Teen Travel

Summer Travel Programs for Teens

Summer’s here! In our book Reality Gold, Maddie is headed for a community service trip with a Sea Turtle conservation group in Costa Rica. That program really exists, and there are plenty more like it: teens can hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, skydive in Fiji, work with elephants in Thailand, study whales in Australia…the list is practically endless! If that sort of summer travel/service/adventure is for you, here are some great programs to look into. Some of them may even have spots for this summer, but if not, it’s never too early to start planning for next year! If you think cost might be prohibitive, don’t be discouraged. You might be surprised by some of the financial aid some of these programs offer—and they may also have outside scholarship or fundraising ideas. When choosing a program, look into things like group size and number of group leaders, and find program reviews and scholarship opportunities on sites like Go Overseas. www.gooverseas.com

Adventures Cross Country: This is a smaller company with a real hands-on approach. They offer service trips, language immersion and adventure-based itineraries, all planned down to every detail—often years in advance. They have a great safety record. They have a few trips for 7th and 8th graders but most are for high school students. No application, just enroll online. http://www.adventurescrosscountry.com

Rustic Pathways: All of their trips run several times each summer, so if flexibility is what you’re looking for, there are a lot of dates and programs to choose from. Some of their trips are centered at base houses, which allow the students to settle in. These programs are for high school students, and they also offer college gap year trips. They offer discounts to alumni that can cut the cost of a second trip in half. https://rusticpathways.com

Moondance Adventures: Group sizes are small, and intentionally limited to keep the student to staff ratio manageable. They work hard to get to know their students, even before the trips begin. Acceptance is first come, first served based on availability. https://www.moondanceadventures.com

Putney Student Travel: For 65 years they’ve been leading tours for 6-8th grade students and high schoolers, helping them become “travelers, not tourists.” They’re a small, family-owned company known for their personal attention. There’s an application process, with a 150-300 word statement why you want to go, plus 2 teacher references. They’ve teamed up with National Geographic too, offering some unique trips within that partnership as well. http://goputney.com

National Geographic Student Expeditions: This well-regarded program runs “authentic and meaningful” trips for middle grade and teen students ages 13 and older. Kids follow in the footsteps of National Geographic’s photographers, writers and scientists. Trips run once per summer and there’s an application process, requiring a demonstration of maturity, enthusiasm, motivation, and two teacher recommendations. http://ngstudentexpeditions.com

Where There Be Dragons: This company has a 4:1 average student to staff ratio, with 12 students and 3 leaders. Each trip is offered once per summer and there’s a deep commitment to experiential learning and involvement. https://www.wheretherebedragons.com

Amigos de las Americas: Since 1965, this company has been inspiring teens to become lifelong catalysts for social change through their language immersion program. Trips last 6-8 weeks and students live with host families. http://www.amigoslink.org

Global Leadership Adventures: This program has expert staff, and each trip offers home base lodging. They have a small 6:1 student/staff ratio. https://www.experiencegla.com

Experiment in International Living: Founded in 1932, this program offers homestays with language immersion. They have different program lengths and several dates. http://www.globalroutes.org/dates-destinations/

Visions Service Adventures: This company has a strong commitment to community service, and when you go on one of these trips, you know you’re doing authentic work for the host communities. Student staff ratio is 4:1 and they return year after year to the same communities.

Broadreach: Broadreach has been in business for over twenty years offering trips to middle schoolers, high schoolers and college students. http://www.gobroadreach.com They aim to provide fun and adventure with growth and leadership. They also have their own foundation offering scholarships. http://www.broadreachfoundation.org