High school is a time when people start wanting to expand their horizons and start seeing more of the world. As our society becomes increasingly global, it seems like people are setting their sights on international borders earlier and earlier. If your hometown is starting to seem small, a travel program might be just what you need to stretch your boundaries and satisfy your wanderlust. These programs give you the chance to go beyond the basic touristic travel experience while still giving you a satisfying break from school. Instead of spending summer or spring break re-watching the best episodes of your favorite TV show, you can be exploring new lands and gaining an international perspective on the world.
- Australia/New Zealand: If you're looking for adventure, where better than in these Oceanic countries. The unique wildlife, beautiful and rugged landscapes, and friendly, laid-back culture make Australia and New Zealand top choices for high school travel. Not to mention, English speakers don't have to worry about a language barrier. Whether you're meeting kangaroos, reenacting your favorite scene from Lord of the Rings, or learning to appreciate Melbourne cafe culture, you're sure to have an eye-opening adventure.
- Japan: From hiking Mt Fuji to visiting local monuments, Japan's rich culture draws people from all over the world. A trip to Japan provides the opportunity to marvel at Tokyo, the world's largest metropolitan area, as well as see what more traditional life is like in the old capital, Kyoto. The excellent food, cutting edge art & fashion environments, and rich culture & history make Japan an excellent place to visit.
- Europe: Because of its small size and open borders, a trip to Europe often includes visits to multiple countries. You'll have the chance to see the birthplace of the renaissance in Italy or modern masterpieces in London's Tate Modern museum. From visits to gothic cathedrals to nights spent experiencing French theatre or Spanish dance, Europe's cultural life is a draw for people worldwide. Whether you're on a multi-country tour or taking a slower look into a particular country, a trip to Europe will give you an education in art history and internationalism.
- Summer: Summer programs are a great for people looking to spend an extended time exploring a foreign country. Although there are short summer programs available, why not take advantage of the months off from school to stay a little longer? In addition, summer has the advantage of great weather in the northern hemisphere. Even places like Sweden, which can get extremely cold, have beautiful summers.
- Spring Break: Spring break trips are great for a quick getaway. Recharge during this short break and expand your view of the world. Traveling in spring also has the advantage of missing the summertime crowds. You'll get a better look at what everyday life is like in the springtime since you'll be ahead of the mass tourist invasions that mark summertime in many locales.
- Volunteer: Both spring and summer programs often have an option to do service work to supplement your travels. It can often be a rewarding experience to give back to the countries you're visiting.
So you know that you want to travel abroad, but what are the steps you should take to make this dream a reality?
A big hurdle for many people is convincing their family to let them go. A child going off to have adventures in a foreign land can be intimidating for many parents. So how do you convince your folks that you should go abroad?
First, research as much as you can. Figure out where in the world you want to go and come up with specific reasons why. Perhaps you want to go to Milan and learn about the fashion industry, or learn about pastry-making in France, or practice your Spanish in Chile. Being able to support your desire to travel with specific, and potentially career-making, interests will help you convince your parents that you are serious about travel.
Once you know where you want to go, start looking into programs to find the one that's best for you. Consider cost, available scholarships, and program offerings. Remember to check whether airfare is included, since that can have a major impact on the listed price of programs. The more information you come to your parents with, and the less work they have to do, the more likely they'll be to let you go.
Once you've got your folks on board and you've decided on the program of your dreams, it's time to figure out how to pay for it. Travel abroad can be expensive; airfare alone is often upwards of $1000. However, trips abroad are still accessible to people from diverse income levels.
Many programs offer financial aid, and some offer scholarships as well. In addition, there many resources online for crowdsourcing, such as kickstarter.com. Lastly, don't forget old-fashioned fundraising methods. A garage sale or bake sale can be a quick source of cash. In addition, teaching lessons in something you're skilled in is another excellent way to make some money.
Once you've gotten everything sorted out, you'll be set to go on the adventure of a lifetime. From trying new foods to learning a bit of a new language, international travel is not only exciting but incredibly valuable. You'll learn about the world and about yourself as well, as you experience life outside your comfort zone. The cultural education you can get in the world's most famous museums and monuments is irreplaceable. Setting out to see the world will give you an international perspective and a better understanding not only of the world at large but also the place you call home.