Come join us for a trip that provides a thrilling mix of Europe’s most popular destinations and its lesser-known marvels! On this program designed especially for culturally curious teens, you’ll see the best that the Netherlands, Belgium, and France have to offer. Stroll along the canals of Amsterdam, tour its notorious Red Light District, and visit Anne Frank’s house, all while familiarizing yourself with Dutch culture, history, and food! Leave your mark spraypainting graffiti in Ghent, reflect on the lessons of history at Fort Breendonk Concentration Camp, and bike through the stunning Belgian countryside with a local guide. In Paris, you’ll soak up the City of Light as you explore the hip artistic neighborhood of Montmartre, get the best view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, go on a guided tour of the Louvre including a visit to the Mona Lisa, cruise along the Seine at sunset, and so much more. Get to know these three countries just as well as any local with this hands-on travel experience!
During this program, you will…
- See priceless works of Impressionist art at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris
- Experience the famous Dutch windmills, and learn how to make Dutch wooden clogs and cheese in the quaint countryside
- Taste your way through a Belgian Waffle tour of Ghent*
- Stroll along the picturesque canals in Bruges, the Venice of the North
- Explore the Royal Palace of Versailles, learn about the Sun King’s lavish parties, and stroll through the gardens*
- Bike through some of the hidden gems and hip neighborhoods of Paris
- Enjoy fondue in the Latin Quarter, escargot at a classic bistro, and crêpes along the Seine
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: DEPART FROM NEW YORK (JFK)
DAYS 2-3: AMSTERDAM
Welcome to Europe! Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, is known for its vibrant culture of young travelers eager to explore the city’s treasures. The city itself is a sight to behold, filled with bicycles and gorgeous old buildings, which makes it ideal for exploring on foot. Our focus is on providing a safe and energetic tour of this dynamic place, as we tour the Vondelpark, check out the masterpieces on display at the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, and even take a walking tour through the notorious Red Light District. Throughout, we’ll peer back into the origins of Dutch culture, and pause to reflect on the events of modern history as we visit the Anne Frank House, where the famous diarist and her family lived while in hiding from the Nazi forces that occupied the city.
During our time in Amsterdam you will also take a half-day trip out to the Dutch countryside. You’ll get to go inside windmills and see how they work up close, visit a cheesemaking shop, home-make your own hot chocolate, attend a Dutch wooden clogmaking demonstration, and more as you explore this quaint Dutch village that has been frozen in time!
DAYS 4-7: BRUGES > GHENT* > ANTWERP
Belgium awaits! Our first stop en-route from Amsterdam to Belgium will be Fort Breendonk Prison Camp, where we will continue to learn about the toll the Holocaust took on this region. We will be based in Bruges, also known as the Venice of the North with its picturesque canals. During our stay we will be within walking distance of the most beautiful sections of the city, making it easy to walk out the door of our fantastic hotel and be steps from the Burg, the Stadhuis, and the Markt. Perhaps the highlight of our time in Belgium is our visit to the countryside, where our awesome local guide will take us on a leisurely and scenic bike ride to Damme, a wonderfully quaint town that is home to dozens of bookshops and delicious eats. We’ll finish off our time in Belgium with a day trip to Antwerp, where we will explore the Diamond District, stroll through the Old Port, and learn about the immigrants who passed through here on their way to the US.
This trip offers abundant options, and travelers may elect to spend a day in Ghent, where they will go on a waffle-tasting tour to decide for themselves what makes a perfect Belgian waffle! The group will also learn about Flemish culture at the impressive Gravensteen Castle and have time to shop in the beautiful historical quarter of the city. You’ll even get to unleash your creative side and spray-paint in a special graffiti alley!
DAYS 8-12: PARIS > GIVERNY* > VERSAILLES*
In Paris we’ll experience the best of French culture as we marvel at priceless masterpieces and stunning architecture, stroll along the quintessential Parisian boulevards, and eat our way through the different arrondissements, or neighborhoods. You’ll see Quasimodo’s home at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, where the famous French movie “Amèlie” was filmed in Montmartre, and shop til you drop on the Champs-Elysées. Bike through some of Paris’ “hidden” neighborhoods, explore the Luxembourg Gardens or Père Lachaise Cemetery, and take a sunset cruise down the Seine. Try some of your favorite recipes at authentic restaurants, such as crêpes, fondue, and omelettes, or maybe taste something new–escargot anyone? There will be time for you to explore some of the cool shopping districts and street markets with a friend to bring home souvenirs, and our counselors will accompany you to help you get the best bargains. Don’t forget to indulge in a pastry from a Patisserie or a fresh Baguette from a Boulangerie. Finally, let’s not forget the experience of a lifetime going all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower!
While in Paris, you can also choose to take day trips out of the city. Art lovers can sign up for our optional excursion to Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny. Fans of impressionist paintings will recognize his beautiful Japanese bridge over the lily pond. You may also visit the Palace of Versailles and learn about the rise and fall of the French Monarchy, as well as walk through Marie Antoinette’s gardens and go for a rowboat ride on the beautiful lake!
DAY 13: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
Who can go on this program? What kind of teen typically goes on this program?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Amsterdam, the group stays in a family-oriented hostel just outside the canal district, meaning we have direct access to downtown without all the street noise! In Bruges, we stay in a charming hotel also centrally located within the quaint city center, steps from the main square. In Paris, we will be staying in a modern 3* hotel right by the Opera House, in the heart of the 9th Arrondissement.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students generally like most on this program?
Students love that they are able to explore four major European cities in three of the most visited countries in the world. This program allows them to discover the similarities and differences of the unique cultures in the Netherlands, France, and Belgium.
What is unique about this program?
Between learning how to navigate Amsterdam with our local guide, the one-of-a-kind biking experience offered in Bruges, and TFT’s years of expertise in leading programs through Paris, this program provides unique insider access to all three countries.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in the cost (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, lunches, visas and visa application fees, beverages other than filtered water at meals, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not program related, such as movies, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
In Amsterdam we will experience its wide variety of cuisine and indulge in some of the city’s favorite specialties including sweet and decadent stroop waffles and even enjoy a tasty pancake dinner one night at one of the city’s most famous pancake houses! We will also sample some of Holland’s famous cheese and for those who dare, try a salty herring sandwich!
In Belgium, you’ll get to try the classic Belgian waffles and pommes-frites with a variety of different sauces!
In France, we’ll enjoy classic French café fare, including the world-famous croissants, French bread, and a classic fondue dinner. And for the brave, escargot of course!
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
What kind of visa do you need for this program?
Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded Top Youth Travel Organization in 2017.
"This past summer I had an unforgettable experience. Being a curious girl since I was little, I have always dreamed of traveling the world and discovering new places. TFT has allowed me to follow this dream of mine. I never would have thought I would have the opportunity to climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris or hike through Cinque Terre. I even got to go paragliding in Switzerland and hike through the Swiss Alps! Going on this trip has let me experience new things with people who are now my life long friends. We are actually planning on a reunion for this summer! If I had the chance to go on this trip again I wouldn’t even have to think twice about saying yes. This experience of trying new activities and making new friends is one I will treasure. If you are adventurous and a daredevil, I definitely recommend this trip."
"I am so glad I chose to sign up for two trips with TFT the summer of 2019! At first I was nervous traveling without my parents to a country I had never been to before, but this trip showed me my passion for traveling. My favorite thing about TFT is all the amazing people I met. I went on my trips not knowing anyone but everyone was so excited to meet new people so we quickly became a little family. I loved my counselors, they were so fun and amazing role models. They always made me feel safe and I knew I could talk to them if there was ever any problem. If you want to travel TFT is an amazing program and I definitely recommend you take the opportunity."
"I know you saw on social media, but I just wanted to “officially” tell you how wonderful the SHA British Isles trip was. Every day was full of fun and so many different activities and the pacing was perfect. Hannah and Hunt are awesome and felt just like SHA people (like you do too!). Our students were so happy and enjoyed it so much. It is truly a privilege to get to travel with them and be their teacher/friend in an entirely different capacity. All the trips are up on there on my “best of” list, but this one ranks near the top. Thanks for all the work that you and TFT do to make these trips possible. I know how much behind the scenes work goes on and how many different hands are involved. One of our Sacred Heart principles is educating to global awareness and I can’t think of many better ways to help them continue to develop into global citizens than through travel. I hope your summer is wonderful- with travel near and far- and that all the TFT trips are successes! Cheers!"