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Author Topic: DD#2 -- Going to France! -- OP #17, #28  (Read 6239 times)

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DD#2 -- Going to France! -- OP #17, #28
« on: March 04, 2013, 08:16:25 PM »
Last December I posted a question about study abroad:

All of the replies on that thread were so extremely helpful, I don't have a lot of questions left! ;D

DD#2 has been studying her phrases and, while certainly not fluent in the language, I know that she'll be able to politely communicate at least to the point of "May we please speak in English?" if she doesn't understand the answers.

We went to an informational meeting tonight and the "trip counselor" (TC) for lack of a better term -- the person that will be in charge of 10 students, including DD#2 -- was very informative on what to wear/pack, money exchange, cell phones, etc. So I think DD#2 is in good shape, information wise.

A few questions:

-- Cell Phone. DD#2 has a stupid phone, so data charges do not apply except for texting. I know that I have to check with my carrier in order to see if her phone would even work in France (doubtful, it's almost 3 years old.) But, in this day and age, going anywhere without a cell phone (especially in unfamiliar places) seems foolish. Any thoughts on this?

-- Camera. We do not have a digital camera, and since her cell phone would probably be out of commission (would the camera function still work?) I thought of the disposable cameras. If she packs them in her check-in suitcase, or even one on her carry-on, does the x-rays affect the film in any way? Or should I buy her a cheapy digital camera? Any thoughts on which camera to buy?

-- Places of interest. She will have some free time every day, sometimes for lunch or dinner. If anybody has any suggestions for "The Must Do*" place to eat (they will be given 30 euros for on-your-own meals) or shop or see in Paris or Nice, recommendations would be appreciated. The top touristy places (the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, etc.) are covered. One day, she gets an On&Off pass with a tour bus (she can get off to visit the area and then get on the next bus.)

Other than that . . . we bought an adapter for her curling/straightening iron, DD#2 was informed as to what to pack/how to dress. TC mentioned pick-pockets (especially around the Eiffel Tower) and other safety measures. The hotel does have complimentary computers available for e-mail. I will have emergency info for DD#2 to carry with her passport (and send an extra copy to TC.)

What am I forgetting?

*If you have ideas, please PM me and I'll give you the location of her hotel.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 06:40:41 PM by jpcher »


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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 08:24:39 PM »
The camera on the phone will work, its only the connectivity which is a problem (calls, internet, texts).  All other functions will work.

Other than for the camera, I wouldn't take the phone.  Even if you have data roaming so it can be used, the costs will be astronomical.


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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 08:33:57 PM »
I would see about getting an international pay as you go phone.  I can't speak about the disposable camera part because it's been ages since I've used one and traveled with one.  What I do remember is that it's safer in carry on for some reason.

If your DD2 is a literature buff at all, I would recommend Notre Dame and Shakespeare & Co Bookstore.  I say lit buff with Notre Dame because I finished up the book around the same time I was in Paris, visited the Cathedral, and went alllll the way up to the bell tower.  It is one of my best memories of the trip that I took.  And I was all of 14 at the time.  :)

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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 08:42:07 PM »
Can you get disposable film cameras anymore?  If you can, they'll be either 100 or 200 speed film so they're fine through the X-ray.  Last time I took a film camera through, they told me that only 400 or 800 film would be damaged.  I think, if you want to get her a camera, that a basic digital is the way to go.  That way, she isn't as limited in the number of pictures she takes.

I agree with seeing about an international pay as you go phone, maybe even a disposable type one so it isn't attractive to thieves.  But if she has access to a computer, I think I'd depend more on e-mails to communicate.  Not as satisfying as talking but you don't have to worry about the time difference, which is about 6 hours, I think.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.

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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 10:46:19 PM »
I was in France in November and used an iTouch for my camera and emails. I used free wifi available in many locations.  I didn't have a cell phone usable in France, but would recommend renting one or buying a simple one depending on length of time in France for your daughter. 

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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2013, 11:00:32 PM »
Tmobile phones are cheap and can be used overseas.  I have a new provider, but when I visit Europe I pull out my old Blackberry, buy a cheap pre-paid plan to activate the SIM and then contact t-mobile to let them know I'll be using it overseas.  You can buy a new SIM card pretty much anywhere over there, pop in the new SIM card and the phone will be up and running within 15 min or so.

A phone card is a good option as well and you can top it up over the phone or online.

Most cities have internet cafe's to keep in touch via email and facebook

Canon and Nikon make cheap good quality digital cameras.  You can buy a 16 or 32mb memory card so she can take a ton of pictures without running out of space.  OneSaleADay always has them on sale for 8 or 10 bucks


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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2013, 07:37:46 AM »
What does she need the phone for?

If she has internet at her hotel, she can contact you daily to let you know she's okay. You'll be able to email her. There will be a phone in her hotel room, which she can use to call you, and you can call her on, if there's an emergency on either end.

If anything bad happens, she is with a tour group. The leader of the tour, or the management of the tour company will get in touch with you if necessary. On the flip side, if anything happens at home that she really needs to know about right away, you can contact the tour company and they will get in touch with her.

It's not as if she's heading off to the back of beyond. She'll be in a major city with multiple ways to contact family and friends. And she's with a large group, not wandering around on her own.

I'd save money by not getting a phone and put it towards a camera so that she can get good pictures of a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2013, 07:40:25 AM »
You need a phone that uses GSM (e.g., has a SIM card).  If you have Verizon they use a different technology that won't work in Europe.

I would consider getting her a digital camera...she could up load pictures while still there!


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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2013, 09:16:55 AM »
As long as everyone is clear on what they are doing/where and when to meet up, I don't think a cellphone is indispensable to communicate with her group, and as others have pointed out, she has plenty of other opportunity to contact you if she needs.

For the camera I pod the cheap digital one, it will be cheaper than a disposable film one and the cost of developping, and it's 1000x times more usefull (you can erase unwanted pictures and send one by mail in a matter of minutes, versus days (finishing the film, processing the pictures, scanning them or mailing them..) and she can keep using it after the trip.

Is it 30€ for lunch and dinner? A good sandwitch can be found in most independent or chain* boulangerie (* Paul, la brioche dorée are a few good ones), there's often a menu with sandwitch/drink/dessert for 8€.
If she likes Japanese food there's a well known street near the Louvre, Rue St Anne, that has a lot of good ones.


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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2013, 10:16:37 AM »
Get a pay as go you phone in the airport.  You can buy one here, but I think that's mainly useful if you know you're going back to Europe a few times.

Get a money belt or money pouch.  If she prefers to carry a purse or a backpack, the pak-safe brand is really good. 
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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2013, 10:38:02 AM »
A backpack is easier to pickpocket. 
I suggest an inside the shirt pouch for small valuables. 
take money for the toilets!  :)
You can order maps online and study them before the trip, marking the must-sees. 
Good thick socks and walking shoes.
Wear black as a staple (goes with everything) and use scarves to accessorize.
Eat, drink, breathe, and memorize the moments. 
what a treat!
Fear is temporary...Regret is forever.


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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2013, 11:48:30 AM »
RegionMom - the backpack I mentioned has locks on the zippers, steel mesh to prevent slashing through the bottom, and unbreakable straps, so it's pretty safe.

Admittedly, the neck pouch is easier, but I loved the backpack and the purse I've used.
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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2013, 12:43:32 PM »
Quick question for you, OP - you mention you have an adapter for her straightener/curling iron. Is the appliance dual voltage (built-in), or does the adapter also have a converter? I've fried a number of straighteners even WITH a step-down converter because of the high heat involved. She may want to consider picking up a cheap one in France, depending on how long she'll be there.

I only say this because I killed a $100 Chi in France and bought a replacement at an Auchan there for less than $15!

Regarding the camera - this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for her. I would say, if at all possible, budget for the digital camera so she can take unlimited photos. I still treasure the goofy photos I took with friends on my study abroad, and I wouldn't have taken those if I'd only had a disposable because I would have saved it for sights and formal photos.


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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2013, 01:17:52 PM »
Here are some travel tips I made for a young (15 yr old) girl travelling to Europe for the first time (a summer trip to Italy and Spain in her case).  She was also travelling with a small school group.  Its a bit long, but here goes:
Make two copies of your passport, ticket, medicare card, travel insurance, debit card and credit card, if you have one.  Leave one copy at home with your mom, pack the other copy in your suitcase (black out the expiry dates on any credit cards).  That way you will have the information you need if you loose any of these things.

You absolutely MUST use a moneybelt at all times, from the moment you leave home. There are pickpockets everywhere in Europe - on the streets, in airports, on trains, in museums and cathedrals, and they are very, very good.  Never carry more than that day's spending money in your purse or pocket and always keep your debit/credit cards and the rest of your cash in your moneybelt. My mom and my dad - both very careful and experienced travellers - have been pickpocketed (in Spain and Italy, actually) and I had my purse stolen in Athens, but because the bulk of our money and our credit cards - and our passports if the hotel didn't have a safe -were in our money belts, none of us actually had much stolen.  (There are moneybelt thingeys you can wear around your neck under your shirt as well.)

You can do advance check in online, 24 hours in advance of your flight.  But if you are travelling as a group maybe your leader will do this.

If you have any liquids in your carry on bag, they can't be more than 30ml each and you have to put all of them into a ziplock bag to be screened separately when you go thru security.  Include lip balm, lipgloss and stuff like that too.

Get some euros in advance from your bank, in small denominations.  Once you are in Europe it is easy to get more from most ATMs with your debit card. 

Prepare a currency conversion card (like on an index card) comparing Euros and Canadian dollars so you'll have some idea of what things cost in Canadian funds. 

Take a bunch of ziplock bags, sandwich size and the large size.  These come in handy for bringing a snack with you on day trips (sneak something from the breakfast buffet, if there is one) or for transporting damp laundry in your luggage.

You won't get fed on the plane from/to (small Canadian City to large Canadian City).  Bring food (peanut butter sandwich, a banana or a couple of granola bars).  Food - and everything else - at the airports is horrendously expensive. You will be fed on the overseas flight, and I believe this meal is still free.  If you want to buy anything on the plane (unlikely) they now only take credit cards, no cash or debit accepted.

Pack a change of underwear and a Tshirt in your carry on bag just in case your suitcase is late arriving.

If you plan on touring any churches/cathedrals or especially the Vatican, many won't let you in if you have bare shoulders and some won't let you in if you are wearing shorts (tourists are the only ones wearing shorts).  (The nearby vendors selling shawls do a roaring business.)

Stuff to pack that you might not think of:

travel alarm clock (also always call room service for a back up wake-up call if you have an early morning start)
used books that you can leave behind when you're done
notebook & pen - keep track of your purchases for your customs declaration when you return to Canada
sun hat
sun screen      
sun glasses
ear plugs (great if you don't need them, but very good to have if you do.  And they are tiny.)
hand sanitizer (purse size).  Keep it in your carry on or day purse and use it constantly.
diarrhea medicine, like Immodium.  You don't need the whole package, just a few.
advil or aspirin (just a few)
one of those little rain ponchos
a small cloth day bag for carrying purchases
small flashlight
a watch
facecloth (this is changing now, but many European hotels still don't provide them, you are expected to bring your own.  Get some cheapies from the dollar store and just leave them behind.)

It is very hard to walk on cobblestone streets all day in flip flops.  Bring proper sandals and good walking shoes (sneakers).

After you have packed your clothes, take half of them out.  Really. For one thing, you are probably going to want to buy some clothes while you are there and you are going to need room for them.  Also, it is easy to wash shirts & undies in your hotel sink.  Wring them out as best you can, then roll them up in a bath towel and walk on them to squeeze out as much water as possible.  Hang to dry. 

For 10 days: one pair of jeans, one lighter pair of long pants, two pairs of city shorts (or maybe one pair and a skirt).  4-5 short sleeved shirts (ones that will dry relatively quickly), maybe one long sleeved one, but I doubt very much you'll need it. A sun dress, if you like.  One long sleeve light jacket/sweater/hoodie for cool evenings (something you can tie around your waist when you don't need to wear it).  Wear the bulkiest stuff on the plane (like the sneakers, the jeans and the hoodie). 

Everything should easily fit in a rolling bag 23 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm (9 in x 15.5 in x 21.5 in) and your carry on bag - at least on the way over.  (Getting everything home can be a bit more of a problem!)  Don't pack a great big suitcase, you will really regret it, especially as it sounds like you're going to be moving around a bit.


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Re: DD#2 -- Going to France!
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2013, 01:20:47 PM »
You can buy a cheap pay as you go phone for Europe from

She can use an iTouch for a camera or I'd buy a cheap digital camera and some sd cards. Disposable film cameras don't have many shots on them and the film quality probably isn't good enough for some of the light conditions she'll encounter. Plus the disposable cameras take up valuable space in limited packing space.