Subject: Re: Teenaged traveler
Hi JoAnne,

I second Gail's recommendation of the Lonely Planet website. The Thorn Tree discussion board there is a great place to keep up to date with local developments. When people ask me why I don't have a bulletin board on my own website, I point out that LP does it better than I ever could.

If your son is planning to use the train around Europe and wants to wing it, then I suggest he picks up a copy of the Thomas Cook European timetable when he is in the UK. He should be aware though that the timetables can change in late September, although those changes are not major.

Also worth picking up Europe by Train by Katie Wood. It is heavy but invaluable if you are multi-countrying. I almost helped write it one year, except the timing was all wrong. Shame.

If he is not a linguist, try and persuade him to at least get a few phrases of French, Italian, Spanish perhaps. It makes a very big difference, that and some basic food vocabulary. If he ventures out of the cities then be prepared that not everyone will speak English.

And finally - I set off and railed round Europe when I was 18. My first solo adventure, and I absolutely loved it. A mixture of some preparation and spontaneity will ensure he has a great time. The #1 thing to remember if he is travelling on his own is just to be extra careful with documents/money etc. It really is a hassle if those things get stolen. Youth Hostels often have safes if he doesn't want to leave stuff in his room (not sensible!). Youth Hostels are also a great place to meet fellow travellers and exchange tips.

So, don't worry too much about him. He'll have a blast :)

Jonathan No longer in Duesseldorf