Clark Howard

My Daughter Will Be Traveling in Europe. Are Hostels Still a Thing? Should I Worry?

Here’s a scenario for you. Your daughter is studying abroad. She’ll be traveling in Europe with other young people, potentially staying in hostels and visiting cities with which she’s not familiar.

Before you start having nightmares, take a deep breathe — and know that it’s relatively safe.

It’s a common rite of passage for young people and has been for decades.

Are there things you can do to make sure you’re as safe as possible? And are there some common destinations? That’s what one dad wants to know.

Will My Daughter Be Safe Traveling in Europe? And Are Hostels Still a Thing?

My daughter will be studying in Switzerland and traveling through Europe for a combined 30 days. Will she be safe? Do hostels still exist? And where should she go?

That’s what a listener recently asked Clark.

Asked David in Virginia: "My daughter will be studying abroad in Lugano, Switzerland. She will have a Euro rail pass and will have three 10-day breaks.

"Any destination location suggestions you might have for a student? Any suggestions for lodging for students? I don't want her in bad sections of town. Are hostels still a thing?"

Yes, hostels are still a thing, Clark says. But they can vary in quality depending on the city and the area.

As far as safety is concerned, know that how these trips usually go is that the students travel and make decisions as a group.

“They’ll pal around together and make mistakes or make good decisions together,” Clark says. “It’s part of what happens when people do study abroad.

“The students kind of do this as a rugby scrum. The chances of danger — very remote.”

How To Identify and Avoid Some Dangers of Traveling in Europe at a Young Age

Clark says the most likely danger is getting your wallet or passport stolen. And a good money belt that you wear under your clothes to prevent that will be worth the investment.

Christa, the podcast producer, says her daughter recently traveled abroad. The people who got into trouble mostly got robbed after they drank too much alcohol, according to her daughter.

“Most of the problems happen late at night when people have consumed too much alcohol,” Clark says.

“I think it’s more a conversation with your daughter. You know, ‘You’ve got to be careful. Some of these cities will have rough part of towns, just like you might have anywhere in the United States.’ And have that conversation.”

Christa stayed in hostels prior to widespread internet availability. She says that if you’re using hostels, small hotels or Airbnb listings, take the time to read the reviews carefully. And talk to other young people who are familiar with the safety of specific areas.

Don’t Know Where To Go from Switzerland? Start With Italy

As far as places to visit, Clark says that students in Switzerland and southern Germany "very heavily use the Eurail to go down to Italy. It's more affordable for student getaways. There's so much fun there and a lot of fellow students in the big Italian cities."

When Clark’s daughter Rebecca studied abroad in Germany and traveled, Clark told her the parts of town in which to stay. He also sometimes helped her and her friends book lodging. He traveled so much that he knew how to give her specific recommendations.

If you’re nervous, Clark told David, you can do research and offer similar suggestions.

Final Thoughts

Most of the tips Clark shared are common sense.

For example, make sure you protect your money and passport. Avoid excess drinking. And rely on and stick with a group if you can.

It can’t hurt to read reviews carefully for hostels or anywhere you may stay. And there are areas of town to avoid in every country and major city, just like there are in the United States.

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