What does teen need to know / bring for Italy tour?

We signed our DS16 up for a 10 day tour of Italy with his class awhile back, and now that tour is coming up in a month. :open_mouth: We will get info on plane tix and room assignments very shortly. I am starting to low key panic about all of this b/c it is not only his first trip like this, but the first time he will ever travel anywhere without us, except an overnight trip once. Most of the kids have parents traveling with them but he has no one. I decided not to go b/c I can’t keep up with the group, plus I wanted to go to spring break trip with DH and our other 2 kids.

This is what I know we need to do:

–find out if he’s supposed to only use carry on luggage or if he can have a checked bag. This is not obvious from the EF tours website (to me anyway…) and his sponsoring teacher is on a long leave and I haven’t heard back. If he can only have a carry on, will they be doing laundry? No idea.

–get him the international cell phone plan from Verizon and explain to him how to set it up.

–make sure that he has copies of his passport and other docs and passport photos in case of emergency (that news story about the group from the UK having all their passports destroyed by the hotel has led me to be more worried about this than before…).

–probably purchase a new luggage b/c ours have gotten to that so so state.

–have him learn a little Italian. He knows a couple words. He’s with an English speaking tour guide though.

–We’ve been going over basic stuff like what to expect at the airport and how to avoid scams in Italy. We’ve flown with him a few times but last was when he was 12 and he didn’t know any of the stuff like that you can’t go to the bathroom if the seatbelt light is lit, etc. I’m going to teach him how to check for bedbugs, which really worries me since they’ll be at many different hotels.

Thanks for any advice. I think this will be a great learning experience for him, I just don’t want to drop the ball on something important. We know the teacher who sponsored the trip pretty well and trust him.

I am worried however b/c DS does not pay attention, ever, to anything anyone says. He doesn’t intend to be like that, he just doesn’t pay attention. I am worried he’ll get split from the group and get lost etc. Also worried he’ll do something like walk out into traffic b/c it’s not going the same way he’s used to, etc. Most of this is scheduled tours but in the evenings the groups may go off on their own, I think they need a chaperone however. That is info I need to get from the sponsoring teacher. Please tell me anything you think I should know about these kinds of teens tours, thanks!

2 Likes

Make sure you have copies of his passport, insurance etc. too.

Make sure he has emergency numbers in his phone. When my DS went to New York and Washington with the school at about the same age, we got a full itinerary and phone numbers of each of the teachers. We made sure he had those in his phone.

Show him how to use Google maps. DS navigated NY using Starbucks locations (no joke lol!).

Get him some Euros and find somewhere he can keep it safely - an inside pocket of his jacket, for example. Tell him it’s for emergency use only.

Double check about luggage. Transatlantic flights usually allow a checked bag, but weight limits and carry on regulations vary by aircraft. It’s normal here at least for a cabin bag to have to be of a certain size, plus one “personal” item that fits under the seat.

A waterproof jacket plus warm layers are essential. Plan for snow. Not just hoodies! You can’t make him wear them but hopefully his teachers will.

I really doubt they’ll let him go off on his own. That said, DS did get lost in New York but he wasn’t on his own. They had free time but had to stay in groups of 3-4, and check in either in person or by phone every hour.

And try not to worry. He’ll have a blast and will be fine. :blush:

1 Like

Oh yes, the Euros, we had that on the list to get before the trip.

He will be provided with breakfast and dinner but will have to be paying for lunch, so he needs a credit card and / or Euros. And for souvenirs etc. I’m ok with him spending some money as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. They also said to have about $100 worth of money for tips.

Are you from the US or the UK?

If you are from the US, do a little research into this. It is probably cheaper to use messages and google voice on wifi. We never get the International plans when we travel unless he’s planning to do LOTS of texting/calling back to you when not near wifi.

Does he have a credit card in his name? Even an authorized user on your card would be the best thing. Setup apple or google pay on his phone.

1 Like

Have him email pictures of these documents to himself and that way if he loses his phone he can still access them. Or put them in Google drive. Or both.

1 Like

In no particular order:

  • If it’s allowed, the backpack is your friend. Whether the luggage is checked or carry on doesn’t matter. A backpack with a change of clothes, book/kindle, paper and pens, etc. will come in handy in a variety of ways, such as carrying loot back to the hotel or insuring against lost luggage. Consider printing out some maps of the local area and putting it in there as well.

  • Consider getting a power bank–they’re great in a pinch and for long days away from a charger. A phone uses a lot more power when using cellular all the time than it does when using WiFi. (Wouldn’t recommend the case power banks, those have a tendency to overheat.)

  • If your bank has a youth account option, and doesn’t have large foreign transaction fees, consider setting up a youth checking account (if you haven’t already) and debit card for allowance. Apple Pay works great with most banking apps too, if you’re afraid of them losing the card.

  • If you haven’t already, you should talk to a doctor about ADHD or Autism, and learning/management strategies.

  • Life360 is a great app you should get your chaperone on board with. It basically allows you to join “circles” (code protected of course) that allow you to see the location of all other members and set up geofence alerts. The tour group can see the location of every other tour group member, but you can also set up a private group with just your family that no one else can access. The paid plans allow you to access their dispatch services such as travel support, medical support, etc. There’s lots of alternatives like it, but I’ve never had a reason to dislike Life360 so I’m passing it on to you :smile:

  • Google maps has an offline maps feature where you can download custom regions and access them without cell service. It works great so I recommend using it.

Also, even without any of this, they’ll be fine (and hopefully have a blast) :smile:

2 Likes

A universal power adapter that covers Italy (and any other stops if connecting flights) would be a good idea even if he only uses it to recharge phones. For the power bank, I’d suggest an Anker - they’re great.

2 Likes

If he is checking a bag, make sure he has everything he needs for 24-48 hours in a carry-on. Changes of clothes, travel size toiletries etc.

Which also means talk him through security - removing “liquids” etc. make sure he knows that toothpaste is a liquid as far as airport security is concerned.

Get him a couple of travel adapter plugs. Don’t rely on USB charging being available.

Check out the hotels he’ll be staying in. Room facilities will almost certainly be different to what he’s used to. There’s unlikely to be a room refrigerator, for example, and if there is it might be a mini bar where he’ll be charged €5 for a bar of chocolate. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

3 Likes

I would also have a conversation about drinking as he will be legally able to in Italy. I imagine there are controls in place through the program, but I would recommend a conversation about possible scenarios and some language for him to use with his friends around what he is/is not comfortable doing.

1 Like

Pretty sure it’s 18 in Italy.

1 Like

I think some beer and wine is allowed at 16? At least according to my student.

1 Like

I guess 18 is the legal age but restaurants/bars only get fined for under 16, so it’s gray. But I would expect some more alcohol exposure to teens than is usual in the US.

2 Likes

Teach them the art of throwing their parents under the bus to get out of situations they don’t like. “No, my parents would get mad if they found out”, “they said if I did that they’d take away my phone for a month”, “they watch my social media”, “they have a tracker on my phone that alerts them if I’m in a ___”, etc.

It doesn’t matter if they make it up. There’s no way for their peers to know anyways.

5 Likes

Great tip!

1 Like

My DS16 is actually currently in Italy on a school trip. It’s not with EF Tours but I’m familiar with them (my DDs did a tour with them–it was great but absolutely exhausting; they kept the kids so busy).

My DDs were allowed to check luggage on their EF tour. My DS was not (but again it’s not an EF tour). We got him a great backpack suitcase (so it’s a backpack that opens like a suitcase so much easier to pack). I was worried about packing 11 days worth of stuff in carry on only but it wasn’t a problem at all.

I would not recommend this at all. One of my girls studies abroad in London in college. We have Verizon. We got the international plan. Five hours after she landed she had already accrued $95 worth of additional charges. If he must have cell service then buy an international SIM card. Or you can have him use WiFi only when he is there (so remove his US SIM card or keep his phone in airplane mode). This is what my DS is doing. He can get on hotel WiFi in the evening to text us, but it keeps him off his phone during the day (which is a good thing).

This is important. We’ve traveled throughout Europe and found more issues with scams in Italy than other countries.

I hope he has fun. It’s a great opportunity for him!

2 Likes

Before Covid, I went to Italy for two weeks almost every year. If you have unlocked phones, getting a local SIM card is the cheapest option. You can order them from the US. Do you already have an international use on your Verizon plan? if not, look into their TtravelPass; It’s $10/day for Europe.

Where in italy will they be traveling? In the major cities, most people speak English; the smaller towns, it’s hit and miss. As for Apple/Google Pay and credit cards, again it depends on where you’re going. I’m usually in a little town and cash is the norm there; major cities credit cards sholdn’t be a problem. I don’t know how common pay-by-phone is; I only started seeing smart phones there a few years ago.

4 Likes

Oh, forgot to add: passports. I keep a photocopy of my passport in each of bags (checked and carryon). That way if one bag goes missing, I still have a copy in the other. By I’m paranoid.

1 Like

I know it’s been mentioned to have all kinds of emergency numbers in his phone. I think he should also have a paper copy of these somewhere, in case his phone is lost or broken. Since it’s so easy to just look up a number in your phone, people don’t often bother to memorize a number.

2 Likes

DH and I recommend using a carry-on size suitcase and a backpack. Do not bring a full-size suitcase that is heavy - it’s no fun to haul up and down the steep, narrow staircases in cheap old hotels (voice of experience). Make sure the carry-on suitcase has good, sturdy wheels - you will do a lot more walking with it, over rougher terrain, than you would in the US.

3 Likes

I’m from the US.