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on my own

3:53 p.m. on January 18, 2004 (EST)
(Guest)

i want to visit portugal for about 10days on my own. i am 17. everyone is telling me to travel with a mate. but i just want to experience it all on my own. what should i do, a mate will slow me down but would it be a laugh?

9:46 a.m. on January 19, 2004 (EST)
(Guest)

This is the message that I poster for another person who was as traveling:

"Another suggestion is to travel by yourself and NOT with a girlfriend/boyfriend or friend. Here's why. See what you want to see. Go where you want to go. No negotiations or compromises. Also, and more important, traveling alone forces you to meet other people. OK, so you hit a new town, found your lodging, and its time for dinner. If you have a freind with you, you will get socially lazy and have dinner with that person BUT if you do not have a friend with you, you will look around and ask someone to join you who you met at the hostel (or on the hike/tour that day). Or, you might ask to join another group as a tag along. The conversations I had with travelers from other countries was fascinating. Its as easy as "Hey, did I hear you're gonna see the Coloseum today? Mind if I tag along? Maybe we could share a cab?"

Ok, the only clarification I would now add is that I met, and traveled with, people I met on my trip on a short term basis.

9:49 a.m. on January 19, 2004 (EST)
(Guest)

Sorry if Garbled

I shouda profraed my messaage firrst! Can't edit this darn things after the fact.

11:31 a.m. on January 19, 2004 (EST)
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Yes and no

It really depends on you, your experience, maturity, etc. I can't tell from your post name if you are male or female, but I would strongly advise females under 20 or 21 to travel Portugal and Latin countries in general with a companion (because of local attitudes about lone females, especially young ones). If you are male, 17 is ok if you are pretty mature for your age and have travelled alone in your home country, and, very important, if you are fluent in Portugese. Keep in mind that there are laws about crossing borders if you are under 18 (or 21 in some cases) - you probably will need documentation from your parent or legal guardian, regardless of whether you are with a companion or not, male or female. Groups like the youth hostel tours have paperwork for your guardians to sign and a trained adult leader and chaperone. The attractions of rambling on your own at your age are great, and you can have a lot of fun and a really great adventure. But there are pitfalls that you may have a hard time dealing with, unless you have a lot of previous travel experience. If you have travelled to other countries with family and/or friends before, you will be aware of some of the problems that inevitably crop up (solving the problems, such as navigating in a town where you don't speak the language or know the local customs, is part of the adventure).

I agree with Paul to a large extent. My first trip to Europe was more or less on my own. I had agreed to meet a couple of friends in Chamonix for some climbing of the Aiguille and another friend in Zermatt to do the Matterhorn. Otherwise I just played it by ear. But I did have a lot of experience with travelling and backpacking on my own, building on a lifetime of family travels and living in multiple countries. And I had some knowledge of the languages. I met and travelled for a day or two here and there with new friends, a couple of whom I still see (I occasionally climb with the son of one of the climbers I met in Cham). There were a couple of times where I came close to getting in trouble (a fellow I met in Geneva who was travelling by motorcycle and I were riding around town and, not knowing the traffic signs, rode through a pedestrian walkway, right up to one of the local cops - got off with just a lecture. Another time I was hitching rides, and the driver took a "shortcut" through back roads, then dropped me in a place where I had no idea where I was, except that it was in the middle of nowhere - luckily, a local farmer gave me a ride to the town I was intending to spend the night at anyway). If you are resourceful, these incidents are amusing to look back on, but they could produce panic if you haven't dealt with such situations before.

You will have to judge for yourself, but I would think that you should build a bit of experience travelling on your own in your own country for a couple years. Whatever you decide, post back here to let us know how it worked out.

12:33 p.m. on January 19, 2004 (EST)
(Guest)

Re: Yes and no

Bill's advice regarding age and experience is right on. At the age of 16 I found myself in Hawaii on my own for about a week. Unfortunately, my lack of age and experience caused me to be more worried about my safety than enjoying myself. I ended up just going to the beach instead of traveling around because that act was easy and familiar. With more experience, I shoulda/woulda/coulda done a lot more and enjoyed myself.

By the time I got to Europe for my "long hair-train pass" trip, I was 21 or 22, a college graduate, and I had a BLAST. I was old enough and had enough experince to enjoy being "foot-loose and fancy-free" and not worry as much about my personal safety. I had the confidence to know that I (generally) could get out of the trouble I got into.

A lot of that confidence comes from "being prepared" as much as possible (yes, I'm a Boy Scout leader). As Bill relates, make sure you can get across country lines (have all of the paperwork ready, take a student indenfication card with you to get discounts, and read up first. At least know what you want to see BEFORE you leave. It would be a shame to learn after you get back that a event/site/thing occurred while you were there but didn't know it.

12:48 p.m. on January 19, 2004 (EST)
(Guest)

And Another Thing....

Bill is also right on about the male/female aspect of traveling in Latin countries. I am male and so enjoyed unharrassed traveling. However, I was asked several times to join single women for dinner. (Yes, it was a fun time in my life.) Unfortunately, the women asked me to join them more as a defensive action rather than because of my charm and boyish good looks. ;) Seems a single woman traveling alone gets hit up ALL the time from the local men. Something to do with the sterotype of "loose" Western women. The single women were making a calculated decision that it was safer to have dinner with me (sad but true) than get hit up by the locals constantly throughout dinner and maybe even followed back to the hostel/pension. Of course, other's experience's maybe differnt.

4:56 p.m. on January 19, 2004 (EST)
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Re: Sorry if Garbled

i dont plan on crossing lines, just staying in lisbon and near beaches for 2 weeks.

im male and plan to travel when i am 18

8:39 p.m. on January 19, 2004 (EST)
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Border crossings

Quote:

i dont plan on crossing lines, just staying in lisbon and near beaches for 2 weeks.

Unless you are already in Portugal, you will cross a border entering and exiting, and thus will go through Immigration on the way in and possibly an exit process when leaving (some countries have this, but I do not know what Portugal does these days). When you pass through those gates (different from the Customs people, which you will also pass through), your passport will be inspected. Depending on their regulations and which of the international treaties they have signed, you might have to have documentation giving parental/guardian permission (18 for some, in which case you will be ok, but 21 for others). Take a look on the web for the Portugese government sites for the latest official information and in some of the student travel books.

One caution that Paul and others have given to others asking similar guidance - do not carry anything with you either going in or leaving Portugal (or any other country for that matter) that might be considered "contrabundo." This means no drugs of any kind, legal or illegal, prescription or "recreational", unless you have a full set of prescriptions with you (carry duplicate copies) and are sure the drugs are legal in Portugal (and your home country). Not all drugs legal in one country are legal in another country, even with prescriptions. If Customs or the police consider the drugs illegal or contraband, you will spend time in jail. And yes, unfair as it might seem, young people, especially foreign teenagers, are considered to be suspicious by the authorities. Young people travelling to countries with the reputation of being tolerant have gotten some very unpleasant surprises when they discovered that the authorities are not as tolerant as the country's reputation. Be very cooperative with the authorities and they will be tolerant of you. Get confrontational with them (as anywhere), and they will be rather intolerant of you.

Keep your nose very clean, keep your eyes open, safeguard your wallet and passport, be very flexible, and you will have a fun time. Remember that you are a guest in their country - if you mind your manners, you will be welcomed back.

10:01 a.m. on January 20, 2004 (EST)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Scott, Scott M
Re: Border crossings

When I went to Portugal they never even stamped my passport as having arrived in the country. In fact, I think we just walked out of the airport somewhat stunned that nobody cared if we were there or not. While in Lisbon I think I was offered hash about 5 times as well as many other good for sale such as cell phones, etc. Overall, I thought Lisbon was very safe but if you want to find trouble, as in any big city, you easily could. I thought Lisbon was an amazing city. We also visited Salema in the Algarve and stopped in Evora for an afternoon.

Quote:

Quote:

i dont plan on crossing lines, just staying in lisbon and near beaches for 2 weeks.

Unless you are already in Portugal, you will cross a border entering and exiting, and thus will go through Immigration on the way in and possibly an exit process when leaving (some countries have this, but I do not know what Portugal does these days). When you pass through those gates (different from the Customs people, which you will also pass through), your passport will be inspected. Depending on their regulations and which of the international treaties they have signed, you might have to have documentation giving parental/guardian permission (18 for some, in which case you will be ok, but 21 for others). Take a look on the web for the Portugese government sites for the latest official information and in some of the student travel books.

One caution that Paul and others have given to others asking similar guidance - do not carry anything with you either going in or leaving Portugal (or any other country for that matter) that might be considered "contrabundo." This means no drugs of any kind, legal or illegal, prescription or "recreational", unless you have a full set of prescriptions with you (carry duplicate copies) and are sure the drugs are legal in Portugal (and your home country). Not all drugs legal in one country are legal in another country, even with prescriptions. If Customs or the police consider the drugs illegal or contraband, you will spend time in jail. And yes, unfair as it might seem, young people, especially foreign teenagers, are considered to be suspicious by the authorities. Young people travelling to countries with the reputation of being tolerant have gotten some very unpleasant surprises when they discovered that the authorities are not as tolerant as the country's reputation. Be very cooperative with the authorities and they will be tolerant of you. Get confrontational with them (as anywhere), and they will be rather intolerant of you.

Keep your nose very clean, keep your eyes open, safeguard your wallet and passport, be very flexible, and you will have a fun time. Remember that you are a guest in their country - if you mind your manners, you will be welcomed back.

11:16 a.m. on January 20, 2004 (EST)
(Guest)

is

i have calculated flights and hostels adding to

12:32 p.m. on January 20, 2004 (EST)
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For 2 weeks???

That seems like enough for some pretty fancy living to me. 1200 euros for food and spending money is 86 a day, which is more than 3 of us spent per day a couple years ago, and that was in France and Switzerland which are way more expensive than Portugal. You must plan to eat in fancy restaurants, or else buy some pretty fancy mementos. You will actually enjoy your trip more if you eat where the locals eat, not where all the tourists eat.

Short answer is 1200 euros is way more than enough for 2 weeks in Portugal.

12:52 p.m. on January 20, 2004 (EST)
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Re: Border crossings

Scott -

Remember that he will have just turned 18 and apparently has little experience travelling outside his home country (UK?). It is way too easy for someone young on their first time trip to make mistakes. Well, we all make mistakes whenever we travel, even with experience and at all ages. But a first-time 18-yr old on his own should be extra cautious. After a couple of trips and a bit of experience, then he can go wild.

Yes, many countries do not stamp passports these days, even with 9/11. Even back in '64, my first trip to Europe, I had to ask at most border crossings to get my passport stamped, just to have the stamp there. More recently, we flew into Copenhagen, picked up our bags at the baggage claim, followed the signs and found ourselves on the street at the bus stop (taxi stand was 50 meters away), not even anyone official-looking to ask which way to the campground. But I have noticed that when I get waved through Immigration and Customs without even a "bienvenidos", young people, especially lone teenagers, will get picked for a more extensive interview. He should at least check the regulations to be prepared. Notice I didn't say anything about haircuts, clothing, and other appearance items. That used to be a trigger for interviews (once returning directly from the mountain on a climbing trip, I got a very long, up-close and personal interview - the officials seemed very disappointed when they didn't find anything except some very stinky underwear).

Yes, Portugal, and Lisbon, and even more the countryside, is amazing.

-- Bill


Quote:

When I went to Portugal they never even stamped my passport as having arrived in the country. In fact, I think we just walked out of the airport somewhat stunned that nobody cared if we were there or not. While in Lisbon I think I was offered hash about 5 times as well as many other good for sale such as cell phones, etc. Overall, I thought Lisbon was very safe but if you want to find trouble, as in any big city, you easily could. I thought Lisbon was an amazing city. We also visited Salema in the Algarve and stopped in Evora for an afternoon.

8:04 a.m. on April 15, 2004 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: is

Quote:

i have calculated flights and hostels adding to

April 19, 2014
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