Alumni Spotlight: Olivia Haan


I am a second-year college student from Minnesota studying biomedical and neuroscience. I love traveling whenever I get the chance and love trying to learn the language of the place I'm going!

Why did you choose this program?

I have traveled with Travel for Teens before and loved every minute of it! I was constantly busy with fun activities along with meaningful service.

I choose Thailand because I wanted the opportunity to work with elephants and experience the culture of of the beautiful country of Thailand. I have never been to Asia and I haven't had much experience traveling abroad in the first place, but TFT made it really easy and stress free.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Travel for Teens again, planned an amazing trip for us. They provide and plan all of the housing, meals, transportation, and extra activities. Before I departed, I was able to read over the whole itinerary with every day planned out. It made it easy to wake up in the morning and know exactly when and where we would be.

There are also optional excursions that they provide which allow the travelers to pick and choose certain activities to cater to their interests. It was also easy to communicate with TFT before departure and have any of my questions and concerns answered quickly.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

The best way to prepare for these trips is to read the itinerary and pack smart. Many of these trips, including this one, travel to multiple cities and, in some cases, multiple countries. It can be difficult if someone has a giant unorganized suitcase. Not to mention that souvenirs are a must! By reading the itinerary beforehand, it is easy to see exactly what is needed.

Also, when you're traveling abroad, it is always best to keep an open mind and have a go with the flow attitude. Sometimes the weather is not cooperating or flights get delayed/canceled and activities cannot be done that day. It can be difficult especially if it's something that has been anticipated but the best way to fight that disappointment is to have an open mind in the first place, which is something I had to learn.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Its hard to say what an average day looks like because we did something new each day. The first week, roughly, was working with the elephants and in Chiang Mai, the second was spent on the islands, and the third was in Bangkok.

Throughout the trip, we also had a two-day rafting trip and temples from all over Thailand. Some of my favorite activities were seeing the famous Muy Thai boxing, learning how to cook authentic pad thai, scuba diving, and competitive scavenger hunts!