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Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

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Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

Hi! My daughter is 19 and is taking a gap year this year and was hoping to participate in a travel program/tour group for people around her age (18-22/24 y.o.) She is particularly interested in going to western Europe, specifically the UK, France and/or Italy. She and I have been doing a lot of looking online and have come across a few different programs that seem to offer great tours with excellent itineraries such as Contiki, Topdeck, and EF Ultimate Break. However, these tours cater to travelers aged all the way up to 39 years old, and my daughter would prefer to be with people closer to her age like other gap year students and/or university-age students. Also, these travel programs seem to do a lot of partying/drinking, and my daughter isn't really into any of that. She's a bit more introverted, but loves to meet new, like-minded people at the same time. She's very interested in history, art, nature, local cuisine, and cultural immersion while being able to make new friends along the way! Budget is not our primary concern and is flexible. What's most important is that my daughter has an enjoyable, memorable experience! So, I was wondering if anyone has done or knows of any travel programs that might suit my daughter's interests?

Thank you!

9 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
52,020 posts
22 reviews
1. Re: Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

I don't think there is a mainstream tour provider that offers what your daughter and you want. Unless perhaps thru a university program?

There are small group educational focused tours, but those will be mixed ages. And the ones you mention like Contiki many of their itineraries are know for younger people but more party-focused.

Why don't you and she plan a trip and go together? UK, France and/or Italy are easy places to visit independently. You can add day tours or classes of interest in different cities if you want to add more structure.

Level Contributor
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2. Re: Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

Most 'young' tours will include people up to 35-39 years of age. Your daughter may feel a bit too young for G Adventures / Intrepid, but they can be considered.

I'm 23, and I considered a tour but then I realized that a tour that would suit me just didn't exist or suit my dates. The ones that did the route I wanted were offered by Globus, Trafalgar, Cosmos- not really tour companies for a 20 something who likes to sleep in! So I'm doing it by myself.

I like suze2you's idea. Very nice! Travelling is an awesome time to get to know a family member on a deeper level. It's an effective way to get along and have fun- plus teaching your daughter the basics of travel survival. You could always suggest going it alone, or going with friends. The tour route does not suit everyone.

Level Contributor
52,020 posts
22 reviews
3. Re: Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

Or if not you, can she find a friend to travel with? You could help them plan the trip.

I never count on "making new friends along the way" when I travel solo. Especially in a country where you don't speak the language. Sometimes it happens, but the travel experience, not the friend-making, is my focus :)

Crowsnest Pass...
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4. Re: Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

G Adventures does offer trips for up to 39 that are not "party focused" like Contiki. Not being in that age group, I haven't been on one but the tour leaders I've talked to say they typically have under 30 year olds. One group we met up with when I was on a regular tour with G Adventures had a group of 18 - 22 year olds. No one was older. If your daughter finds a trip that interests her (any company), you can call the customer service line and ask about the demographics of people already signed up. They won't give you names but will often give you ages, gender and nationality.

San Francisco...
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5. Re: Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

STA Travel is a good option. They specialize in student travel.

Might I advise you to consider her doing a solo backpacking trip? I went to Europe for 3 months during college when I was 19, and loved it. I'm also an introvert, but staying at youth hostels is an easy way to meet people (all same age). Many hostels book tours, game rooms, or have bars inside where you can meet others. Not to get drunk, but have one beer or glass of wine and mingle. Depending on her comfort level she can take solo or group tours during the day (check out Trip Advisor or Viator). When Google Maps, Trip Advisor, and other travel blogs its easy to find things to do, great restaurants, etc.

To me tour is too restrictive. I don't want to be told where to eat or have my morning coffee. I want the opportunity to explore, find a cool bakery, choose to sleep in one day, or sit at a restaurant and try to order in the native language. With tours you miss out on many of these opportunities.

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52,020 posts
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6. Re: Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

I wonder if a better fit might not be skipping "gap year" idea and starting college, at a school that offers semesters "Abroad" as part of their curriculum? That sounds possibly more her style??

Edited: 16 July 2018, 00:39
1 post
7. Re: Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

I think our girls are in exactly the same boat! I was about to post exactly the same scenario! The only difference is my daughter doesn’t want anything too academic—she just wants to explore. She likes the sound of EF Ultimate Break—the Ultimate Europe tour. It sounds well organized to me—I think she wants s fair amount of structure for this first trip on her own—but I am concerned about major drinking and partying, also not her thing. Spoke to a rep who claimed the trip is so activity-filled that the kids are tired and don’t party constantly. G Adventures’ web page implies nonstop partying and no sleep. Top Deck sounded possible.

You might also want to look at Art History Abroad’s trips, since your daughter is into history. They sound great!

England, United...
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8. Re: Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

The idea that suze2you seems a good one.

I did my first trip with a college group so I knew who I was travelling with though we were not close friends and there were a couple of adults to go to with any questions and make sure you knew what was going on and included yet still had some freedom.

I used to be introverted then and was able to choose to eat out with the group or stay in my room and read. A few of us went out an explored but everything else was organised around a theme.

It's one of the things that started me travelling.

Edited: 17 September 2018, 01:38
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9. Re: Best travel groups for 19-year-old female on gap year?

I ran into a 19 y/o Australian woman somewhere in western Europe (Berlin, maybe?) who was traveling using Busabout. She said if you stayed at their recommended hostels there was a lot of partying so she had researched her own hostels and was staying at those most of the time instead. It's not really a tour, but they have set loops that they travel I think, and she said it was easy to meet people to do things with for a few days on the bus or in a hostel.

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