Thailand. We have all heard of this incredible country before. It’s your perfect tropical Southeast Asian paradise. Everything from encounters with amazing wildlife to some of the best beaches on the planet put this country on everyone’s bucket list. Unfortunately, with this being such a popular tourist destination, it has become overrun with foreigners in recent years. I realized this when I signed up for Thailand Elephant Service & The Islands trip, and I was quite worried that my trip would not live up to the “Thailand paradise” expectations. Fortunately, Travel for Teens understood this as well, and the only time I saw large amounts of foreigners throughout my entire vacation was at the airport, as you would expect. Outside the airport, I was blessed with what I can confidently say is my absolute favorite trip I have ever had the pleasure of going on (and I have been to 30 countries and 6 continents in total, including Antarctica). Travel for Teens seeks out activities to participate in that your standard teen tour group will not do. Nearly all other Thailand “adventure programs” listed on this website will in fact not be much of an adventure at all. They will instead take you to major tourist destinations, and that’s it – that’s where Travel for Teens sets itself apart from the crowd. Of course, one of the major highlights of this trip were the incredible few days up in Northern Thailand where we had the privilege to work with elephants in their retirement parks. Here, elephants rescued from the lumber business and street performing in Bangkok were provided a safe haven to live out the rest of their days in peace. Being able to get up close and personal with these creatures allowed my group and I to see how gentle they truly were. There was a sense of kindness in their eyes that I haven’t seen before – anywhere. It’s truly an incredible experience. We were quite a ways away from the city and in an area where there were more elephants than people, and in this situation we were able to escape the “standard Thailand vacation”. We helped bathe the elephants alongside feeding the baby elephants – they were very cute. We learned a ton about these massive creatures: everything from how they only sleep 4 hours a day on average to how it costs upwards of $300,000 per year for food for each elephant to how riding an elephant for a prolonged period actually gives them back problems later on in life. All of this wouldn’t be possible on a standard Thailand vacation where you may actually ride an elephant yourself, or just see them briefly perform. Travel for Teens gives you the unique experience to work with the elephants themselves and that is something I truly treasure. Another incredible experience this Thailand Elephant Service & The Islands trip provided me was a two-day rafting trip out in the remote Thailand jungle. For nearly two full days, we saw no trace of civilization: no roads, no houses – nothing. This is a true Thailand adventure, given we traveled over one hundred miles downriver between the towns of Pai and Mae Hong Son in far northwestern Thailand close to the border with Myanmar. We camped overnight alongside the river, and despite it perhaps not being your “luxury” overnight stay, it was the time when everyone bonded the quickest. Being in a raft for many hours amounted to great conversations and before long, I realized just how incredible the group I traveled with was. They made the trip fantastic as much as the trip itself did, and that’s saying quite a lot considering just how amazing the itinerary was. Everything else from scuba diving in some of the most pristine reefs imaginable to trying some of the most delicious food you could possibly fathom summed this trip up to be my absolute favorite I have ever been on with Travel for Teens. I have participated in nine trips in total with the company, and this is number one on my list. Do not miss out on an incredible opportunity to see and experience things you will be unable to see anywhere else on Earth. This trip is the trip of a lifetime.