Blue Bicycle Travel FAQs
What’s up with the blue bicycle? Does this mean that we actually ride bikes?
When we travel, we get around like the locals do. This means using the city bus and the tube or the metro instead of loading up on a tour bus. We also do lots and lots of walking. One of our favorite ways to explore a city is on public bikes. The blue bicycle comes from the Vélib bikes in Paris, which anyone can use for half an hour for free. And while you don’t have to be able to pop a wheelie, you will definitely ride a bike at Versailles. You’ll also row a boat.
How old do I have to be to go on the trip?
Our trip is designed for eighth graders to high school graduates. It’s the perfect graduation trip for a senior and the ideal introduction to Europe for a 13-year-old. Anyone who has completed seventh grade can go on the trip. Our high school students will have more freedom than our junior high students, but we’ll do most activities together.
Do I need to speak French?
No, but you’ll have the opportunity to learn or improve your French in many ways on this trip. You’ll also be a step ahead for AP European History, AP Art History, AP World History, etc.
How do you keep your costs low?
Honestly, we’re not in this to make money; we simply want to show you the world. As savvy travelers and licensed travel agents, we have experience in where to cut costs and where to spend. The biggest factor in our price is the airline ticket. In the summer months, round-trip tickets to Europe from Salt Lake City average around $1400. We believe in staying in safe, comfortable and convenient (but not fancy) hotels, hostels and apartments. We also believe in eating well. You will be well-fed, with three meals a day and pain au chocolat and ice cream to keep you sustained through all the walking. London and Paris are two of the most expensive cities in the world. On that budget you can expect to share a bed (sometimes a fold-out couch) with someone on the trip, and to eat three meals and a few snacks each day. The rest of the fee covers admissions, public transit within England and France, a ticket on the Eurostar train, travel insurance and chaperone costs.
If we plan our next trip over Spring Break and find airline tickets for $300 less, your cost will be reduced by $300. It’s that simple.
What if I want to use frequent flier miles?
While we don’t think that frequent flier miles are a great deal on summer trips to Europe, if you have hundreds of thousands of miles sitting in your account (lucky!!!), you can use them on the trip. We will give you the flight information for the group and you can book your ticket on the same flight under a separate reservation.
What about spending money?
While you won’t need to spend a penny of your own money once your parents turn you over to us at the airport, you might decide you really, really want a miniature sparkly Eiffel Tower or a bust of Henry VIII to take home with you. We recommend that before you leave, you have your bank change about $50-100 into Euros and about $50-100 into British pounds to take with you. You can also bring an ATM card, bring US dollars and use an exchange service in Europe, or bring a credit card.
Can parents come?
We love parents! Any parent who attends should plan to share a bed with their student. While adults do increase our costs on transportation and admission fees (student rates are so much better!) we don’t charge more for parents because we feel like your presence is so valuable.
How many people will be on the trip?
In 2020, we will limit the group to twenty students.
Do I need to live in Utah to join this trip? What if my cousin from Boston wants to join us?
Our trip originates from Salt Lake City, Utah, but anyone is welcome to join us. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work out the details.
How many chaperones will there be?
We plan to have a chaperone for approximately every 5-6 students on the trip. This is a much lower ratio than on most student travel programs, and as parents ourselves we feel that this is one of the most significant things that sets us apart from other European travel programs.
I’m gluten-free/vegan/kosher/allergic to nuts/a picky eater, can I still go on the trip?
If your diet is easy enough to mange on your own, yes. If not, please bring a parent.
What will I eat?
We generally eat a light breakfast in the apartment/hotel/hostel prior to leaving for the day. Lunch is often on the run– sandwiches from a museum café, a crêpe while walking through the Latin Quarter, or a quick stop at a fast food place to grab a burger, go to the bathroom, and use the free WiFi. Dinners are a combination of different things– we might eat steak frites in Paris or fish and chips in London, or grab a pizza to eat back at the apartment after a long day of sightseeing. When we order food in a restaurant, we’ll give you cash to pay for your own food so you can practice ordering in French (or in English, if we’re in London). You’ll bring a water bottle to fill on the run, and we’ll make the obligatory stops for Magnum bars and Berthillon ice cream.
Where will we be staying?
We either stay in apartments (separated by gender), or in private rooms in hotels or hostels. We do not stay in hostels where our students share space with people who are not in our group. Our preference is to have an adult in each room, and when we get an idea of who the attendees will be on the trip we will have more information on that. Junior high age students have adults in their hotel rooms.
What should I pack?
One carry-on size bag (22x14x9) and one backpack. Your carry-on bag should be light enough to carry up four or five flights of stairs, because you’ll have to get this bag all over Europe (on planes, trains and automobiles), most places in Europe do not have elevators, and your dad isn’t going to be there to carry it for you. You need a clean shirt for every day, enough socks and underwear, a pair of jeans, a couple of pairs of shorts that you will wear over and over, a sweatshirt or jacket, something to sleep in, a pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers that are comfortable enough for a lot of walking. If you want to go to church, plan to bring something you can wear to church.
Do I need a passport?
Yes. You can apply for a passport here. If you have a passport, please make sure it does not expire within six months of our arrival date in Europe or you might be turned away at customs.
You keep talking about walking. How much walking are we talking about here?
The truth is, we do a LOT of walking. At least five miles most days, some days more like seven or eight. Start getting your legs ready now.
How do I prepare for the trip?
Start walking! The best thing you can do is go for walks with your friends or your parents or your dog (not sitting on a skateboard while the dog pulls you).
Apply for a passport.
Attend our preparation sessions.
Read books! And get so excited because we’re going to have a fantastic time!
What if I want to go to church?
You’ll have the option of attending an LDS sacrament meeting on Sunday or mass at Notre Dame. We will spend most of Sunday sightseeing.
Your website talks about doing service. What exactly does that entail?
Tens of thousands of political refugees, primarily from Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea, are making temporary homes on the streets of Paris. We will partner with an aid organization to make donations. We will meet as a group prior to leaving for Europe to organize our service plan.
What about the internet?
When Shelah took her teenage son to Europe the first time, they got home and she asked him which place he liked best. “Paris,” he said. Shelah was thrilled, because she’s obsessed with Paris, and when she asked why, he said, “there was good WiFi.” All of the places where we stay have WiFi, so you can keep up on those Snapchat streaks. And we know you’re going to want to Instagram the heck out of your trip, so you can keep your cell phones with you. Many restaurants and museums in Europe also have free WiFi. Most phone carriers allow you to add an international data plan for about $10/day.
I’m an introvert– can I go off on my own?
For safety reasons, we require that no student go anywhere outside of the lodgings by themselves on the trip. We recognize that we have a wide variety of ages on the trip, and we will use or judgment on where and when and who you can go with. Our twelve-year-old seventh graders will not be given all of the same freedoms as our high school graduates. If you go anywhere without a chaperone, you must have prior permission.
What if I need to cancel?
The $200 deposit is refundable until Feb. 1, 2020 when we pay the deposit on your airline ticket. Once you have paid for your trip in full, you can only be refunded for the things we haven’t already paid for (meals, entrances and local transportation). Our cancellation policies reflect the way we would want to be treated.