What you learn in the classroom during your high school years is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine all that textbook knowledge coming alive as you travel the world and explore new cultures. Enrolling in a high school travel program will not only help you learn about the world firsthand and look good on your college application, it will turn you into a true citizen of the world.
High school is a time of your life filled with transformation, and studying overseas can help you focus, think clearly about your future, and have time to develop your own sense of identity. Whether your experience validates what you've always thought you wanted or opens up a completely new and unexpected path, your perspective on yourself and the world will never be the same again.
Where to Go
High school is the perfect time to go overseas and expand your worldview. Whether you're still figuring out what's next or already have goals involving university and a professional career, a high school travel program can help you gain real-world perspective and experience that will bolster your confidence and inform your next steps.
Europe is such a vast, multicultural continent and yet most students end up traveling to the same countries. It’s time to break the pattern of traveling to France, Spain, or England! Portugal has a little bit of everything: great weather year round, a beautiful and useful language, good food, and lots of cultural diversity.
Besides the draw of Portugal itself, traveling within Europe is easy to do, so you can always hop on a low-cost flight and visit other countries in the region. The westernmost country of the old continent is perfect for cultural immersion activities during an educational tour or by enrolling in a student exchange program and living (and studying) like a local.
High school students with an interest in arts and culture will fall in love with Mexico. The country's cultural identity is a mix of its Mesoamerican origins with European, Asian, and African influences that set the environment for a unique arts and music scene.
Combine your love of the arts while practicing Spanish in a country where you can explore the ruins of the Aztec civilization, one of the oldest in the world, or discuss the work of iconic local artist Frida Kahlo.
When it comes to offbeat destinations, the African island of Madagascar is pretty high on the list. Did you know that over 80% of the plant and animal species are unique to this country and can't be found anywhere else in the world? If biology is your favorite subject, your heart just skipped a beat.
It’s the perfect place for high school students who are looking for a mix between experiencing cultural immersion activities and learning more about wildlife conservation.
Any trip to India is transformative, to say the least. The multitude of scents and colors and ever-chaotic street traffic contrast with the silence inside Hindu temples and ashrams. Experiencing a civilization over 5,000 years old is as impactful as you'd imagine.
This South Asian country is well-suited for high school students who aren't afraid of culture shock and want the challenge of learning about a drastically differently culture and society. Summer programs, where you can choose between cultural immersion activities or volunteering with local NGO's, are popular in India.
It’s not only Lord of the Rings fans who would love to embark on a journey to New Zealand. Breathtaking landscapes and cultural diversity are also two of the country’s strongest calling cards.
For high school students who love outdoor activities and adventure travel, the island country “down under” is the ultimate dream destination. Get in touch with nature while hiking through cinematic landscapes or going back to basics while volunteering at a farm.
Once you have a destination in mind, it's time to take a look at the different types of travel programs offered and choose the one that’s the best fit for you. Keep in mind how much time you plan on spending abroad, what you want to achieve with this experience, and how the majority of your time will be spent, whether studying in a classroom, working in a local community, or just traveling and exploring the culture.
If you want to combine learning with traveling but are not necessarily ready for a full academic experience just yet, a cultural exploration program is a great option. You can choose a provider offering private tours (available for individuals and for families) or group programs and, although they sound touristic, still offer a great opportunity to get in touch with the local culture.
This kind of program typically takes place during the summer and is aimed at high schoolers who have just graduated. It helps to build your experience in a real-world work environment and may even inspire your career goals if you haven’t decided on a college major yet.
The most commonly taught languages in high school are French and Spanish. How about expanding your vocabulary and local culture knowledge by studying overseas in the country of origin? You can opt for an immersion program with other American students or have the full local experience through a study abroad exchange program, where you'll study the language intensively and live with a host family in the country of your choice.
Unlike other volunteering programs where you go to a country or community in need to put your skills to good use, in a service learning program, you’ll develop skills by connecting what you learned from books with real-life experiences.
In an increasingly connected and global world, adventure travel allows you to take the leap and step out of your comfort zone. Whether you prefer a summer program, want to go on a quick trip during spring break or are planning to give back to the community through a volunteering, choose a program that includes outdoor activities. Hardcore outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy activities like river rafting or Scuba diving, while first-timers can opt for low-intensity hiking trips.
Planning Your Trip
By the time you've decided on your destination, you're going to be ready to run off and start packing. But there's a chance your parents have concerns about your safety overseas that they might not have told you yet. Before they hit the red alert button, read through these planning tips with them and include them in your decision-making process.
How to Choose a High School Travel Program
A high schooler wanting to go overseas to experience the world means only one thing: growth. Time is of the essence, so pick a program duration according to your end goals. Spring break programs are good for students who are only looking for a quick trip away from home while still experiencing a new country. For high school students looking to learn new skills or improve old ones, a summer or a volunteer program is more appropriate.
Once you have determined the duration of your time abroad, choose a type of program that fits the skills you want to develop or that will perhaps be relevant to the universities and degree programs you want to apply to.
Health & Safety
Different people will react in different ways to another climate and diet. If over-the-counter medication for upset stomachs isn’t easily available in the destination, consider taking some with you from home. If you need prescription medication, talk to your physician before traveling to make sure you don’t run out.
Some countries require specific vaccinations to enter and some of them may need to be taken a certain amount of days or weeks prior to departure. Visit the CDC website to know more about what vaccines you need before traveling as well as any special health alerts that may have been issued for your destination.
Regarding safety, the US Department of State issues travel alerts when a situation in a given country is considered dangerous. Follow the news and updates on the official website. If safety concerns weigh heavily in your decision-making process, ask questions to other alumni at Go Overseas before committing to a program.
Other Need to Know
Program providers will assist you with most of the logistical aspects of your trip, like visa requirements and housing. After picking the program, take the time to familiarize yourself with the local cultural customs, currency, and cost of living of the country where you'll be traveling.
When packing, consider traveling light and keep in mind the local weather at the time of the year you’re visiting, any cultural or religious customs you need to respect, and the nature of the activities you'll participate in throughout the program.