We wrote about how some non-profits and volunteer programs are providing travel opportunities for low income kids in the US. But I just ran across a new program in Europe that will be providing free train tickets to a small number of teenagers in the EU. It is available via a lottery, and children from low income families or well off ones can all apply.
You may ask why do this? Well, the European Union wants teenagers to see the continent, visit various countries and cultures, learn and grow. They want the youth to see the culture that is available in Europe. How about that! Maybe those non-profits in the US that are trying to do this are on to something!
The EU is providing about 15,000 tickets this year to teenagers. The tickets would normally cost about $600 American dollars each, but the EU is providing them for free to 18 year olds. This will allow the teenagers to not only travel for free, but their Euros can then be used to pay for other travel costs, such as meals, lodging, or anything they want.
Not only will 15,000 tickets be passed out in 2018, but the EU is considering expanding the program in following years and may provide tens of thousands of tickets to teenagers in 2019 and subsequent years. The long term goal ss that almost 200,000 train tickets will eventually be made available (for free) every year to 18 year olds in Europe.
The train tickets are known as Interrail, and they provide free rides to about 30 different countries. Not only that, but the tickets last for 30 days from when first used. This means that is the 18 year old takes their first trip on July 15, they can travel for free up until August 15. 30 days to visit as many counties and cities as they want. Incredible!
The European Union sees the benefits to youth traveling. They can experience the various cultures in Europe. They can do something as simple as eat a baguette in a Paris café (which I highly recommend!) or order an “un cafee” in Italy. I love that hit of Italian coffee and how Italians often stand right at the bar taking their cafee! While I faced a language barrier when in Rome, they as well as I tried to communicate. Or the teens can go to the Gothic quarters in Barcelona. Or see many of the countless other cultural sites that are available on the European continent.
Teenagers can explore the locations that they read about. Whether it is Normandy where the Allies invaded the beaches to start the end of WW2 or the Eiffel Tower, Greek Islands, or any other site in mainland Europe. Teens can stay is hostels, friends or family member houses in different countries, or sleep on the beaches! Of course, if they can afford a hotel then those are always available. But no matter, the transportation via train is free courtesy of the EU.
The program makes me wish I was 18 years old in Europe. Boy would I love that opportunity. But good for the EU in encouraging, and paying for travel to let the youth see various cultures, learn and grow. As we said, we also think this can benefit kids and the youth in the US as well.