Dear Grandparenting: My grandson says he is finished with school. He wants to get out in “the real world.” He graduated from junior college and has sort of been spinning his wheels since then while working in a health club. He is thinking about hitchhiking through Europe. I might help out financially but I have some concern.
I do think foreign travel is an excellent way to broaden your horizons when you are young. But with all the anti-American feelings in this crazy world, I worry about his safety. He is a big, strapping kid who played every sport going and keeps himself fit. But I doubt that he’ll find Europeans rolling out the welcome mat like in the old days. Do you agree it has become more than a little risky to travel abroad? Blessed, Reading, Pennsylvania
Dear Blessed: How times have changed. When we were kids, we hitchhiked everywhere. It was standard operating procedure for anyone who didn’t have a ride. But nowadays we live in a world of excessive uncertainty. Nobody we know would even think of allowing their grandchildren to hitchhike across town, much less across country. Chalk it up to the free-floating fear of the unknown, the stereotype of the unhinged driver with little to lose. America is among the most violence-prone nations on earth.
European cultures, especially Western Europe, are considered safer. But this endeavor takes more than a strong set of legs and a sense of adventure. Smart travel makes for good travel. The U.S. State Department web site is a fine resource that should be required reading for anyone entertaining the idea of foreign travel. One rule that always applies is to avoid making a spectacle of oneself. Maintain a quiet presence and always be aware of your surroundings. We always paid attention to our gut instincts back in our hitchhiking days. If a ride didn’t feel right, we didn’t take it. Has your grandson considered enlisting a male friend for safety and companionship? We would urge him to strongly think about doing so.
Local sources in Europe will be the best way to get smart advice about travel tips and connections, so a smart phone is another must. This journey will open your grandson’s eyes to life’s possibilities and promote his self-reliance. And in this era of ever-greater globalization, exposure to foreign cultures could become an asset to your grandson during his career. Bon voyage!
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Sammy from Fishkill, New York, reports that things are going great between him and grandson Sam III.
The last time Sam III visited, “he asked if he could come live with me when his mother gets old.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.