Most young adults, from teens to college students, have some form of wanderlust. The need for independence coupled with the mystery and romance of traveling to a foreign country grip young hearts and minds. There are major benefits to traveling across the world — without parents — that you can't experience by staying at home. Parents worry for their young adult's safety and do so with merit, but there are many ways to satisfy both teens and parents. By taking the time to prepare and setting specific goals for your travels, you can have a fulfilling, life-changing trip and keep your parents happy.
Why Teens Should Travel
One of the most difficult parts of traveling across the world without your parents will be convincing your parents that it's a good idea. Fortunately, there's an arsenal of resources at your disposal to help you out. Traveling will help you grow as a person, broaden your horizons, immerse you in a new culture and give you experience looking after yourself. It's going to be a challenge that will force you to be self-sufficient. If you're traveling with a group, you'll have to learn to live closely with people not from your household. It's a great way to prepare yourself for your experiences in a college dorm.
Ways to Travel
Want to travel and gain valuable experience that looks good on a college application or resume? Volunteer abroad. What could be better than traveling to a beautiful remote country? Giving back to the community while you're there. Help alleviate poverty, protect wildlife, teach kids to play sports, teach ecological sustainability or help impoverished and at-risk children.
The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms helps people find organic farms to volunteer at. You can spend an entire summer taking care of dairy cows in France or just spend a week or two earning your keep at an organic orchard in Germany. You negotiate the terms of your visit directly with your host, so you always know exactly what you're getting into.
Use a service like MindMyHouse to hook you up with house sitting opportunities around the globe. Homeowners can have a hard time finding someone to mind their pets, plants and home while they're away, but this service lets them find people willing to take care of their stuff in exchange for free accommodations. Check it out if you want to travel but can't afford to stay in a hotel.
Taking a Gap Year
One of the most popular reasons for teens to travel is to take a gap year. Take a year off after high school and backpack across Europe, Asia or South America. There are hundreds of places you can go to find information on backpacking, including guides for every country out there and how to save money on your travel.
|Kafka Statue in Prague|
Budget: Unless you get a job during your trip, you'll be living off limited funds. Figure out how much money you have to spend on food, travel and sleeping accommodations, then take your leftover funds and divide them by how long you'll be there. That's your daily spending limit. If you go over one day, you'll have to make up for it later. Wait to buy your souvenirs until the end of the trip, so you can focus on having fun, not pinching pennies.
Be safe: There are hundreds of guides, blogs and websites out there that will alert you to dangerous countries, cities and districts. Before you go on your trip, look up each of your destinations and find out what areas you need to avoid. Do your research on general travel safety tips and stick to them. Learn from others wisdom and keep yourself out of danger.
Use a checklist: Keep a list of everything you need to do to prepare for your trip. You don't want to get to the airport and realize you don't have your travel itinerary or an updated passport. Make a list for things you need and want to do while you're overseas, too. Make sure you take care of the things you need to do before you do the fun things.
Research: Take the time to learn about whatever country you're heading to. Pay special attention to the culture. Learn what phrases, gestures and clothing are taboos so you can avoid them. Take the time to learn a few phrases in the native language, like "Where is the bathroom?" and "I'm lost. Will you help me?" They can save you embarrassing and stressful situations.