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17 yr old boy alone in Houston

Cardiff, United...
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17 yr old boy alone in Houston

My son will be in Houston alone for 5 days at the begining of August. Can anyone recommend safe places for him to stay, things to do.

Thanks

San Antonio, TX
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1. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

A little more info might be helpful - his interests, what area, will he have a car, etc. There are several museums, NASA, Galveston that offer things t do. The Galeria area has tons of restaurants and shopping.

Cardiff, United...
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2. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

My son is visiting Houston, from Britain, at the end of July to compete in the Annual International Space Settlement Design Competition, NASA. At the end of the competition he is staying in Texas for 5 days. He has never been in Texas before and currently has no where to stay.

He is studying A levels in Maths, English, Physics and Chemistry and is applying to Oxford to study Maths. He is also a very keen sportsman, particularly Tennis, Cross Country and Taekwondo. He will be in Houston to compete in the Annual International Space Settlement Design Competition, NASA at the end of the competition he wants to stay for 5 days. He has never been in Texas before and currently has no where to stay. He can't drive.

Ideally I'd like to find a family to host him.

Is Houston a safe city?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Edited: 15 June 2011, 14:57
Texas
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3. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

I would contact the people that are hosting the competition and see if there are any host families available. Houston is very much a driving, car-oriented city and very spread out. It will be a lot easier for him if he has someone who can drive him. There is a rail line, but it's very limited in where it goes. If he enjoys sports, he would probably love to go to an Astros game if they're in town. Minute Maid Park is beautiful with lots of neat features like a retractable roof, and a train the runs along the top of the stadium if they hit a home run. And of course he'll want to do the tour of NASA while he's there. The Kemah Boardwalk is nearby, and it's a fun place to eat along the water.

Houston, Texas
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4. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

Houston is a safe place but it is a very large metroplex and certain areas should be avoided. I will PM with more information.

Houston, TX
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5. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

Congratulations to your son on winning, with his team, a spot in this competition. Very impressive. Best of luck to them.

NASA is located about a 30 minute drive to the south of downtown Houston. It is also about a 30 minute drive north of Galveston. As mentioned above, mass transit (especially as you know it in Cardiff), is very limited and, left to his own devices, could find a 17 year old who does not know his way around in some dicey kinds of places. He really does need to find some adults who can host and/or take him around to places, if for no other reason than he cannot do it on his own. I am assuming the group will be accompanied by teachers/adult chaperones of some sort. Perhaps they can contact the organizers and explore the possibilites of host families.

Another possibililty would be to book him into a hotel in the Galleria area (lots of shops and restaurants) where a major tour company would make stops and he could go on day tours. Not sure what's out there and if, at his age, this would be OK with him, but it does get around the not having a car issue, if the hotel will let an unaccompanied 17 year old book in. Check also to make sure he can get transportation to the airport from the hotel for his return. He would still have to get to the hotel somehow--maybe a private car service? If his group is going back to IAH after the competition perhaps he could go with them to the airport and then take a shuttle to the hotel.

I know this is not the concrete help you need, but perhaps it gives you a starting point. If you come up with anything, come back to the forum and I'm sure people will be happy to help.

McGregor, TX
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6. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

It might be worth contacting Rice University to see if they have any Alumni families who would be willing to host a "visiting prospective student" ;) for a few days.

Cardiff, United...
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7. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

thanks to everyone for the tips posted so far, this will be his first trip abroad alone, and I am a nervous mother.

So any other advice would be greatly appreciated. he would also like to play tennis while there, any recommendations on places to play and find partners?

Texas
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8. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/tennis.html is a link to some tennis info. that may help you.

Houston, Texas
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9. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

Unfortunately, Houston is very much an automobile city. I live in a very good area on the west side of town, just about five-minutes' walk from a park that runs literally for miles and miles along Buffalo Bayou. I feel very safe walking to and from the park, and I feel safe all throughout its miles of jogging and bike trails, regardless of time of day. Yet, I wouldn't walk a mile in the other direction after dark. Houston doesn't really have any large areas that you can point to as safe or unsafe. It really does vary by neighborhood.

As I indicated above, everyone in Houston drives, so you'll probably want to somehow set up your son with someone that can drive him. Very little sits within walking distance of anything else. I live right on the bus route, but I've never had any need to use it, so I can't say much about it. Most of the people who use the bus in Houston do so because they have no other choice (i.e., can't afford a reliable car). Therefore, he'll want to be careful if he decides to make use of public transportation. (I don't mean to stereotype bus riders, but's it's generally not a popular form of transportation in Houston.) If he stays in the Galleria area, it's probably okay to use the bus from there. He could use it to intersect Houston's one train line, which I believe is quite safe, and I doubt the bus ride would take him through any bad areas to get there. I don't think he would have any issues while he's ON the bus...I'm more concerned for his safety while waiting at stops. From the metro rail line, he could access a number of museums and safe areas, as well as downtown. Our downtown area can be very photogenic. I've had to pick up a number of foreign exchange students from the airport on occasion, and I always tried to drive them past downtown afterwards. They were all impressed with the sight of it. If you haven't been to New York or don't come from an area with a lot of skyscrapers, it's quite awe-inspiring.

Cardiff, United...
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10. Re: 17 yr old boy alone in Houston

thanks for that, i haven't found him any accommodation but he is booked in for an interview and tour, that is one day sorted.