Comprised of five islands and two atolls, American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Samoan and English are both spoken on the islands, making it an accessible destination for high schoolers who already know English -- especially for students who want to volunteer in a warm destination, but perhaps don't have the language skills necessary for a Central American program.
That said, it is pretty far off the beaten path and best for students who can handle a challenge and a bit of culture shock. But for those high school students who open themselves up to it, they'll find friendly locals, a unique culture, and mesmerizing scenery in American Samoa.
American Samoa is great for students who are interested in the tropical life, spending time outdoors, marine life, adventure, and drinking lots of coconuts.Photo credit: U.S. Department of the Interior.
Teen Travel Tours
Teen travel tours are a beneficial way for students to study and learn in American Samoa while experiencing the adventure of a lifetime. Tours integrate educational components like language and history, while having an overall focus on elements like volunteerism, adventure, or cooking.
Students wishing to make a difference can spend time volunteering in American Samoa. High school students with a desire to assist with teaching English will find there is a good demand for English teachers on the islands. Providing medical assistance and teaching a healthy lifestyle to locals is the subject of many programs in American Samoa. Programs range from a week to a few months in length.
United States citizens need a passport but do not require a visa to visit American Samoa. Citizens from the UK, Australia, and Canada are permitted to stay up to 30 days with no visa required. If you’re traveling with a program they will provide assistance with completing and obtaining the proper visa.
Volunteer programs will either arrange for a home stay or provide hotel accommodations. Students participating in teen travel tours will share a hotel room with fellow travelers. Homestays may be included as a part of the itinerary so students can experience the local culture.
If you’re coming from North America to the Pago Pago International Airport in American Samoa, it can cost you around $1,700 to $2,200 USD. Students flying from Europe will spend around $3,000. Flights are not found every day, so be sure to plan well in advance your arrival and departure dates.
American Samoa uses United States currency. It is best to carry cash as credit cards are only accepted at major hotels and car rental agencies.
Costs for American Samoa programs can vary according depending on length of stay and what’s included. It can range from $2,500 for a two-week trip to $4,000 for a month-long program.
For a tropical, equatorial destination like American Samoa, you’ll need to pack fewer layers and most likely more gain gear. The dry season is June through September, while the wet monsoon season is October through May.
- Breathable and UPF (sun resistant) clothing
- A raincoat and rain boats (which can be bought once you’re there)
- Solid walking sandals or shoes for outdoor adventures
- Swim gear and a sarong (for women)
- Sunscreen and mosquito repellent
- A hat
- A power and voltage converter
Staying Healthy in American Samoa
It's recommended travelers receive hepatitis, yellow fever, typhoid and tetanus vaccinations before traveling to developing nations. Mosquitos in American Samoa can carry diseases like Dengue Fever and the Zika virus, so high school students should use bug repellant and cover their skin. Health facilities are basic and those with more serious health problems may need to be evacuated by air to Hawaii, New Zealand, or Australia.
It is recommended you drink bottled water in American Samoa. Sometimes salads are washed in impure water, making them hazardous to a traveler’s stomach. When eating meat or shellfish, make sure it’s thoroughly and properly cooked. With American Samoa’s hot and humid climate, be sure to stay hydrated.
Crime rates are very low on the islands. Stay away from packs of stray dogs as they can be territorial and aggressive, known to bite. American Samoans still follow old traditions, so students should ask for permission while in local villages to do things like taking photos or going to the beach. Permission is usually granted, but it’s just important and respectful to ask.