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Unusual request from a father

Plymouth...
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Unusual request from a father

My sweet, pretty, talented and witty daughter just graduated from college (in just 3 years) and is off next week for a solo journey of self-discovery that starts in Amsterdam. Her itenerary from there is open, as is her return date. As her proud and loving Dad I have confidence in her and know enough about your beautiful city and its inhabitants to sleep at night...just!

If anyone has advice for her, I'd appreciate it greatly. She actually listens to her Dad, even at age 21 (that's how smart she is!). Otherwise, I ask anyone who can to be extra nice to Americans for the next couple of months!

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1. Re: Unusual request from a father

awww, you sound a lot like my dad. I did my journey of self-discovery after law school, but I guess to a dad 21 or 25 is not much different ;) Anyway, I think your daughter will be fine, it sounds like she is a smart girl.

My biggest reaction to your post is actually that everyone I encountered, from Amsterdam to Italy to England to Portugal and everywhere I went in between were nice to me as an American. Maybe I just got incredibly lucky, but I think the single biggest thing that helped was simply being polite and trying to follow local customs, embrace the differences, etc. I had a phrasebook and learned the 5-10 basic helpful and polite phrases in each language (though in Amsterdam I was often greeted in English - but in a friendly way!), so I wouldn't worry about her being treated rudely - especially if she's conscious enough to get out of the main touristy squares and go to restaurants and shops off the main streets, where I found people particularly hospitable and friendly (and cheaper prices, and better food, and cuter things in the shops, etc...)!

I also found that people were very nice to me traveling alone. I didn't have any problems at hotels or restaurants and I always got excellent service, even dining alone.

The biggest thing is that she should read up on tips for security (maybe she already has!). Things like wearing a money belt, not taking her money out in public and only carrying enough cash for the day in her bag/wallet, being extra careful in busy places like train stations and on public transport, watching how she holds her purse (and where she puts it when she's eating and shopping), etc. will all help her I think (it all helped me and I got through six weeks without a hint of a security problem). I found that preparing in advance helped me when I was over there, so that I could just go about my sightseeing without having to look over my shoulder every 5 minutes.

Depending on where she ends up going on her journey, I found that the further south I went (particularly in Italy, if she's going there), the men are very...."friendly" and they like American girls. Now, they all took no for an answer and I didn't personally feel unsafe at all, but I also knew to expect this beforehand, and that helped me not get caught off guard. Maybe this is OT for the Amsterdam forum....sorry! But I think this is something important for her to be aware of, but not worry about.

Anyway, I'd recommend she stay away from the red light district at night... even at 11am it made me slightly uneasy, yet not unsafe. And I did wander around Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein after dinner and didn't feel unsafe despite some of the more "eccentric" characters walking around. and there are internet cafes all over, so perhaps you could convince her to check in with home every so often ;)

I hope she has a great time and that her journey through europe was as life-changing as mine. And congrats to you for raising such a wonderful-sounding daughter!

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Amsterdam, The...
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2. Re: Unusual request from a father

As a father of 22 & 16 year old daughters myself I understand your concerns. Amsterdam is a safe city as long as you take the usual precautions so eloquently cited by debstah above. There can be a problem with pickpockets in Amsterdam especially around the Central station area and on public transport so be especially careful there. Also IMO its unwise for a lone female to be walking around after say 4am. There are plenty of taxi's and also the night busses to get you home.

My tips would be for her to carry a photocopy of her passport and also to scan it and send it to a webmail account such as hotmail etc so you can refer to it if you lose yours. Look up the addresses of the American consulates in the countries she is visiting and keep a printout with her.

It might be worth investing in one of those wi-fi enabled Skype phones so she can keep in touch without incuring large phone bills.

I am planning a TAAF meeting on the 20th January to coincide with the Presidential Inauguration so if she is around and fancies a couple of beers with fellow travellers then look out for details on the forum shortly. There will probably be at least two DE's for Amsterdam there plus some other fellow Americans who have travelled extensively so maybe we can give her some travel tips in person :-)

It also bloody freezing here at the mo and although I've not been there I'm guessing New Orleans does not get that cold so get her to pack some layers to keep warm.

Hope she has a great time

regards, Ron

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3. Re: Unusual request from a father

Make sure she understands that you want email updates, even a one liner, as close to daily as she can manage. And she should be able to manage.

My son, a few years older, is doing the exact same thing in South America, right now. In between finishing his masters thesis and staring his fellowship. Those emails are the first thing I look for each day I get up. Not quite as easy to find an internet cafe each day though for him as it will be for her.

Fathers worry. No matter the age of the kid.

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4. Re: Unusual request from a father

Ronaldo . What a brilliant idea to send a copy of your passport to a webmail account. Im doing it now. Can access it anywhere in the world. Brilliant.

Amsterdam, The...
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5. Re: Unusual request from a father

She might enjoy reading this:

www.postwar.nl/pw_2007/pp/amsterdam.php

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6. Re: Unusual request from a father

Our oldest daughter set out in our 1977 VW Bus for 8 months of her journey after graduating college, driving from NY out to Seattle, down the west coast, and then looping back home through the south. She went to NOLA just 3 weeks post-Katrina and ended up staying there for weeks helping out. She then touched stoned at home and announced she was moving to NOLA to help rebuild. She lived in your wonderful city for nearly a year before coming back home. So, my best to you and your city, and my empathy for your concerns as a parent.

Have her send daily/weekly updates via email. Our cell phone (AT&T) works just fine when we are in Amsterdam and call home to check on things, so what about arranging times for her to call?

Better yet, are any of the TA folks who live in Amsterdam willing to provide their personal info (address/phone/etc) to Aldo NOLA via a private message so that his daughter could have a "friend in Amsterdam" if she had a problem?? Just a thought......

I'm sure she'll have a great time. Wonderful (smart) advice already posted above.

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7. Re: Unusual request from a father

Dunno about the OP's daughter Pala but I had a good read of the link you posted and some great info in there with some good humour thrown in. Nice one!

Amsterdam, The...
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8. Re: Unusual request from a father

@Ron

Thanks. Kudos go to the author who used to be a regular contributor at "channels.nl". It's a great primer.

Plymouth...
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9. Re: Unusual request from a father

What great responses and ideas...thanks so much! I have always loved Amsterdam and had great confidence in my daughter so I thought it would be no big deal for me when she flew the coup, so to speak. She flies out today and I have to admit to having a bit of a lump in my throat, though I am of course very excited for her. Her brand new degree in Art History should get quite a workout as she tours the museums and wanders through the cities.

Thanks again for the ideas and kind words!

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10. Re: Unusual request from a father

I understand your concerns. My son first solo traveled Europe for 8 weeks at 20. He told me that he met many girls traveling solo! I was amazed. Since graduating college, he has traveled 8 weeks to Central America, 8 weeks to Asia, and now he is in Chile - he's been gone 6 weeks. He is 24 and always travels alone.

These are all things that you have probably already thought of:

1. He buys a Lonely Planet guide for every country and researches on line before he leaves. Once he gets to a place, he talks to other travelers and decides where to go and how long to stay. He never plans more than the first night or two. If he doesn't like where he is staying, then he finds another place and moves. You can look at one of the hostel sites on-line and read the reviews.

2. He always makes a reservation for the first night before leaving home and figures out how he is going to get from the airport to the hostel. Usually by some sort of public transportation because he is traveling on a budget. The on-line sites will give you directions. I always write the name and address of the hotel on a index card, so that I can hand it to the cab driver or show someone if I have a problem when I travel. Usually finding someone to speak English in Europe isn't a problem.

3. He takes a couple of colored copies of his passport, leaves a copy home with me along with a copy of his driver's license, credit card and ATM card (front and back).

4. He takes a cell phone. It is expensive, but worth it in case of a problem. He can always text us for about 50 cents. He has called us from all over the world with no problem. The phone gives him some sense of security - knowing that he can get us if he needs us.

5. He keeps his passport along with the credit and ATM card in a compartment around his waist. He has had is pocket picketed one time in Thailand. He keeps the money for the day in his wallet.

6. He stays in small inexpensive hotels and hostels. He has met people from all over the world in the hostels.

7. For Europe, he bought a pass for the trains before he left the US.

8. When in Amsterdam, he spent most of his time staying in a small nearby town called Haarlem and trained into Amsterdam, but he thought Amsterdam was a wonderful town.

9. There are computers for emailing in the hostels and internet cafes everywhere so that she can email you and tell you where she is and where she is staying.

He says that people are wonderful everywhere. Our one regret is that we didn't do this when we were young!

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