What do you do when faced with many good options—and very limited resources?
That, in a nutshell, is the challenge of traveling in Europe.
In this choose-your-own-adventure style trip, our group of teens and trip leaders will work together to create a 6-week European itinerary that begins in Poland, ends in Portugal, and in between… well, that’s up to us!
This is not mere tourism; it’s about tackling the hard, messy challenges of group travel. Negotiating, budgeting, researching, compromising, organizing, economizing, stepping up, stepping back—you’ll do it all. You won’t get everything you want, but you may get everything you need.
Make no mistake: this trip is designed to breed future world-travelers with highly developed social skills.
Welcome to Unschool Adventures Eurotrip 2022.
February 12, 2022: Unfortunately, EuroTrip has been cancelled due to low enrollment. We’re sorry!
Sept 15 – Oct 27, 2022 (may shift slightly)
Starting in Krakow (Poland), ending in Lisbon (Portugal)
12-13 participants (ages 14-19)
Blake Boles and 1-2 other leaders (TBA)
$5750 (plus flights & lunches)
Unfortunately, we did not receive our minimum number of applications by the priority application deadline (February 12th, 2022).
↑ Finding our way, old-school map style. (Unschool Adventures Argentina 2012)
Every Unschool Adventures trip is created with specific purposes in mind.
Here’s what we’ll set out to achieve on this adventure.
If you’ve ever dreamed of a grand European adventure, this is your chance!
Europe is a big place, and you’ll get to see a lot by traveling from Poland to Portugal. But let’s also be clear: we’ll only be scratching the surface. To really understand this vast continent would require multiple lifetimes. So it’s better to think of this trip as a “teaser” that will help you decide where to go when you return to Europe for your next adventure.
We won’t try to “do it all” on this trip—which would leave us burnt-out and broke—but rather to seek a diverse set of experiences that strikes a balance between city/country, high-energy/low-energy, and depth/breadth.
If you have specific places you want to see and things you want to do in Europe: fantastic! Bring your ideas and enthusiasm to our pre-trip planning sessions (which will take place over Zoom). But leave your rigid expectations at home. For a trip like this, it’s better to remain flexible, plan to be surprised, and buckle up for the ride. At the end of the day you’ll still have a grand European adventure… just not the one you were expecting 😉
Fifty dollars is either a lot or a little in Europe, depending on your flexibility, creativity, and bargain-hunting skills.
Want to visit Switzerland? It may be outside our trip budget… unless one of our group members has a family friend with a Swiss chalet! Want to take an amazing-but-pricey side trip? It might not be possible… unless we find a way to feed ourselves for just $5/day for a few days!
A standard distribution of $50/day in Europe might look like this:
…or it might look totally different, depending on how we prioritize our destinations, how much we push our comfort zones, and how good our research is. Now matter what, you’ll learn how to make the most of a fixed budget in a land where things can get pricey, quickly: a powerful skill for young adulthood in general.
Solo travel, small-group travel, and large-group travel each has its advantages and disadvantages.
On this trip, we’ll aim to make the most of our rather large group by tapping into our collective resources (like foreign language skills), enjoying “economies of scale” (like home-cooked group meals), and creating our own entertainment (like DIY evening socials at our hostels). But we will also split into smaller groups on a regular basis in order to pursue our different interests, fulfill our different needs, and better secure accommodation. Whenever possible, we’ll create space for individuals to do their own things, too.
The Eurotrip planning process will begin some months before the trip and continue throughout the very last day. For teens with limited experience with group decision-making, this trip will serve as a crash course in modes of governance (democracy vs. consensus vs. benign dictatorship), deep listening, effective negotiation, and clear communication. We’ll employ non-violent communication as our framework for expressing feelings, needs, and requests throughout the trip.
↑ Trying new foods is fun… sometimes! (Unschool Adventures Spain 2018)
Our group will meet in a major U.S. airport (TBA, most likely on the east coast) and fly together to Krakow, Poland, where the adventure begins. From here we’ll venture across Europe until we reach Lisbon, Portugal from which we’ll fly back to the same U.S. airport.
Our group will always travel together to the same major destinations (i.e., we won’t split up and go in totally separate directions), and we’ll always remain within the Schengen area, pictured in the map below.
While a “typical day” will hardly exist on this trip, here are the kinds of activities that you can look forward to every day:
We’ll focus on trains and buses as our primary forms of transport. Ferries are a possibility (from Italy to Spain, for example). And we may hop on a budget flight (but we’ll try not to make a habit out of it).
Rome2Rio is a fun website for exploring the many ways one can venture across Europe.
While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to complicate travel around the world, we feel confident that we can run a European adventure. We will wait until summer 2022 to finalize our health policies for this trip, but it is very likely that Covid-19 vaccination will be required for all participants.
↑ Just a casual group meeting (Unschool Adventures New Zealand 2016)
When I was 19, I embarked upon my first European adventure: 7 countries over 5 weeks with 4 friends. The trip was enlightening, invigorating—and a total mess. We had no idea what we were doing, and we got sucked into all sorts of tourist traps. Yet I knew I had to go back, because Europe was just so dang charming, accessible, and steeped in history.
I eventually returned many times: to visit friends, to go on outdoor adventures, and sometimes to just wander. I spent a rainy month in Amsterdam, danced all night in Spain, hiked the Camino de Santiago, Couchsurfed in France, fell in love with a German, and crossed many borders on a bicycle.
No matter where I traveled in Europe, I learned fascinating things about geography, culture, language, and politics. And traveling in Europe felt easy because most people I encountered spoke some English.
But the real trick to European travel was always about the money. For me, Europe was a training ground in frugality. How creative could I get with my housing? How inexpensively could I eat without completely sacrificing my health? How could I entertain myself without purchasing experiences? Unlike South America or Asia, where a western traveler could afford to not worry, Europe could break your budget in a hurry. This meant I’d have to get smart—fast—or face the consequences.
I’m excited to share my love of European budget travel with you on this journey. We’re starting and ending in two iconic (and rather affordable) cities: Krakow and Lisbon. Between lays the whole of western Europe. Where we go is up to us. What an adventure!
↑ Blake, age 19, “freestyle walking” in Paris
What are the additional costs?
The Unschool Adventures program fee ($5750) includes:
In addition to this program fee, participant costs include:
Who are the trip leaders?
Blake Boles and a female co-leader (TBA) will guide this trip. We may also have a “trip assistant.” Learn more about all our leaders here.
What will the trip planning process look like?
After finalizing our group roster in Spring 2022, the planning process will begin. This will initially involve a good amount of emailing and individual research, followed by a few long planning sessions over Zoom. We will do our best to accommodate everyone’s schedules for the Zoom calls, while also recognizing it’s unlikely that everyone will be able to attend every call. No matter what, we will make sure that every voice is heard.
Will it help if I speak a foreign language?
Yes! We are hoping that our group members bring a diverse set of foreign language skills (however minimal) to help us navigate the different countries we pass through. (But fundamentally, one can survive anywhere in Europe with English, Google Translate, patience, and a positive attitude.)
How can I stay in touch on this trip?
For group communication and safety purposes, we will require that all participants bring a smartphone with an international mobile data plan. We also expect to have wifi access in virtually every accommodation.
What will the accommodations be like?
We’ll typically stay in youth hostels with bunk rooms (4-8 beds per room) and shared bathrooms. Teen participants may share rooms with participants of other genders or with trip leaders; they will not share rooms with strangers. While we may split up within a city in order to better secure accommodation, one staff member will always be present at any particular accommodation.
What gear do I need to bring?
This will be a classic European backpacking trip, and you won’t need anything special: just clothing, toiletries, warm layers, and a smartphone. (If you can fit it all into a carry-on sized bag, more power to you!)
What happens if my child needs medical attention?
If a participant requires medical attention, a trip leader will accompany them to the nearest medical facility and immediately get in touch with parents/guardians. Safety is Unschool Adventures’ number one priority, and our company maintains a perfect safety record.
How does U.A. manage the risks of letting teenagers independently explore on trips like these?
Unschool Adventures gives its teenage participants more freedom, responsibility, and opportunities for self-direction than the typical trip-leading company. We’re also still responsible for their safety, which is why we have a few non-negotiable guidelines for unsupervised time:
If you’re nervous about the thought of letting your child wander around in foreign cities—we understand! And please know that we have more than a decade of experience in safely facilitating this kind of exploration in cities such as Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Bangkok, and Kathmandu.
Whenever a young person spends time in any large city, whether in North America or abroad, some level of risk is involved—but we believe that the biggests risks can be mitigated with clear, common-sense rules. The personal growth and empowerment that comes from this kind of urban exploration is huge, and it’s a core part of the Unschool Adventures experience.
Can you accommodate my special diet?
We can accommodate vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free (but not celiac) diets. Please remember that while traveling, it’s not always easy to cater to special diets. The more restrictive your diet, the more flexibility and patience you’ll need to have a successful trip.
When is the program fee due?
A security deposit of $1750 is due upon enrollment, and balance is due on June 15, 2022. All fees are payable by check, money order, or bank transfer. You may also pay by credit card with a 3% surcharge.
The international plane tickets will be purchased a few months ahead of departure, facilitated by our group travel specialist; these are payable via credit card. If you require a payment plan, please write to email@example.com.
How can I raise money for this trip?
We’ve got lots of ideas! Click here to read all about them.
Is there a possibility that this trip won’t happen?
While the majority of Unschool Adventures trips do end up running, sometimes a trip fails to meet minimum applicant numbers and we must cancel it. We hate to disappoint applicants, but we also don’t want to waste your time if a trip is clearly not going to meet minimum numbers.
The priority application deadline for this trip was February 12th, 2022.