Give Your Teen an International Experience

travel, international vacations, travel with teens, international experiences, international travel, summer vacation ideas, vacation, authentic experiences abroad, travel abroad
Brian is a seventeen-year-old with a passion for traveling and learning languages. He loves writing and dreams of becoming a travel writer when he’s older.

 

In the fall of 2008, I received a letter from an international organization inviting me to spend two weeks in Europe. Before my early summer departure, I prepared for my adventure and met periodically throughout the year with some of the other teens I’d be traveling with. I had no idea how the experience would change my life.

During those two weeks, I traveled with about forty others to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and England. We toured museums, snapped pictures in front of famous landmarks, and ate interesting foods. Despite doing mostly tourist things, the trip exposed me to unfamiliar places and the European way of life. I returned home with a greater understanding of the world and historical events. I wanted to go back.

The next summer, my family traveled to Italy. Although we still went sightseeing, we succeeded in ditching the swarms of other tourists by traveling off the beaten path. Our journey led us to a small mountain town in the Abruzzo region and a costal town in the L’Aquila province. We saw how real Italians lived, and I loved it.

My parents gave me something more valuable than any gift or gadget; they gave me international experiences. Before embarking on my first trip to Europe, I knew very little about the world outside America: Canada is to the north, in Europe they speak dozens of languages, Africa has some wild animals, and China might be communist. That was basically it. After these two experiences, however, my entire perspective on the world has changed. I’m inspired to learn dozens of other languages, study different governments, and see dangerous animals in their natural environments. I now realize there is a world outside of America, and it is mine to explore.

So I encourage you to give your teen an international experience. No, a trip to a Vietnamese beach resort or an American hotel in Cancun doesn’t cut it. For the most part, places like those seek to make tourists feel comfortable and at home in a foreign land. They deny travelers authentic experiences, chances to mingle with the culture. Instead, take a look at what your teen is interested in. Is he taking French in school? Talk about a journey to France or other Francophone countries around the world. How about marine life? Think about a trip to the Great Barrier Reef or other exotic places. Whatever it may be, don’t forget to meet the locals, eat authentic food, stumble over the language, and learn about the religion—avoid exclusively doing touristy things.

Although I’ve traveled only to other parts of the Western world, I’ve learned so much. I want to change the world and see it for how it is and not from a sheltered point of view. I want to learn about different cultures, live abroad, and explore foreign lands. I am forever grateful for these experiences, and they have had a lasting impact on me. How much your teen will take away from your international experience is uncertain, but I promise if you do it right, your teen will gain so much. I promise.

 

Photo Credit: my own photo.

 

The Top Four Summer Plans for Teens

summer vacation, summer camp, summer programs, summer jobsHannah is a 16-year old from New Jersey. She loves to compete with color guard and marching band, and play piano. She hopes to become a writer one day, and to inspire others to follow their dreams.

Every teenager has a different idea of an ideal summer. For me, I like to stay busy and keep my mind occupied. For other teenagers, summer is all about resting in the sun and relaxing the mind. Luckily, no matter what type of teen you are, as long as one plans early, there are a variety of summer options available, as shown below.

1. Volunteering – Volunteering can be one of the most valuable ways to spend a summer. A relaxing summer activity, community service can boost self esteem and give teens a sense of belonging. For those not old enough for jobs, volunteering at a library or animal shelter can provide opportunities to train for future careers. Additionally, volunteerism and service are qualities that appear on almost all applications for colleges or even high school honors clubs.  Volunteer jobs include: animal shelters, libraries, soup kitchens, children’s programs such as Safety Town, cleaning up parks and public areas.

2. Jobs – Around the ages of 15 or 16, many teens start to seek out their first jobs. Having a job can be beneficial to provide money for the expanding teenage social lives that come with licenses and cars. Many teens make the mistake of trying to become employed at a franchise store or a mall. However, lately, teens find themselves not being hired, or having trouble managing the job when the school year comes around. A better option for teens is a summer job that requires new employees each year. Come March or April, teens may want to contact an employer and ask for an application. Good options include: snack bars, life guarding, water bars and ice cream stands.

3. Educational summer programs – This option has presented itself time and time again to me. I found RadicalParenting as I searched for a summer internship last year. Most teen summer programs require applications, and one normally is required to apply during the winter months. It is difficult to give examples of summer programs, but any student interested in broadening their minds during the off-months should seek advice on ideal programs from a guidance counselor.

4. Relax!– After months of intense work at school, the summer is a chance to rejuvenate. So, if you are a teen, even as a volunteer or with a summer job or program, it is good to take a break.  Hang out with your friends, go to a beach, take a trip, have a barbeque, camp outside, see a movie or two, get a tan, and just take advantage of your summer months before another difficult school year begins.

Traveling with a Teenager

Kendal is a passionate and ambitions 16 year old from Jersey. She enjoys leadership roles/partaking in events and organizations, public speaking, listening to music, and photography. In a nutshell, she’s a little bit of everything.

 

“Pack your bags kids! We’re going on vacation!” Does this statement send a shock of grief and moans of exasperated “Ugh do we have to” through your household nowadays?  With a 17 year old, this isn’t out of the norm. I bet you’re wondering, what ever happened to the days when you took your child to Disney World and everything went smoothly as planned.  Activities that used to seem “fun” are now boring to your teenagers. So as a parent, what do you do? There are several ways you can have a great getaway for the whole family with your teen.

Believe it or not, most teens actually would be excited to go on a family vacation! (Just as long as there’s something in it for us.)
            First of all, you need to create a vacation plan; but before you start jotting down what sites YOU want to see, consider how many other family members are accompanying you. Take into account your teen’s interests; include them in the planning stage. If they enjoy shopping sprees: scope out for places near big malls. Or even if they are the daring adventurous type, search up resorts that offer rock climbing or water skiing. Arcade game rooms and large pools are often available with various hotels as well. The active teenager will appreciate a golf course, basketball courts, or tennis nets nearby. More directly, just ask your son or daughter what they would like to get out of this vacation. It eliminates the guesswork and you can’t go wrong if THEY tell you what they would like to do.

Because teenagers are in that middle stage, in between adult and child, it seems there are less activities for us to do lately; too juvenile to do arts and crafts and not old enough to go to the bar and mingle. Well, many vacation spots have tons of activities for the 16 year-old guests such as the ones mentioned above and more.

Managing to squeeze in every site to see and every family activity on the list is near impossible. One of the best things you can do is have some down time to just relax. Make sure your teen has packed some things that will keep them entertained on the trip, like a good book, their laptop, or a couple CD’s. Kids don’t love being dragged around like a wagon all the time especially on a summer trip.

Generally speaking, teenagers want freedom on vacation. As much as we like you mom and dad, we’d rather not spend every second under you guys while on summer break. Remember, it’s our vacation too! So let them roam around a little. Young people like to meet new young people. When you or you and your spouse go down for a drink by the poolside, encourage your teen to take a walk on the beach and socialize. (Just remember to have them check in with you by sending a text letting you know where they are and who they’re with.)

Also, you might want to try bringing a friend along for your son or daughter on your trip. Doing so, keeps your kid entertained, and saves you a lot of the “Ugh, when are we going back home?”

All in all, a family vacation means spending time with each other and escaping from the stress and difficulties of everyday life, (even if it’s just for a week or so).  So enjoy that trip to Florida or your cruise to the Bahamas with a happy teenager. Get out there and start booking your flight! There’s only a month of vacation time left!

Photo credit: photon_de from Flickr

 

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Top 5 Vacation Ideas for Teens

Dana is a 16 year old from Hi-nella, NJ. She loves to write and enjoys reading, singing, and shopping. Her goal is to help others through her writing, and bring attention to important topics.

     Planning a much needed family vacation can be fun and exciting when mapping out things like where you will go and what you will do. However, it can be very stressful finding some common ground between what you as parents would like to do, and what your teenage kids desire to do. For example, parents may want to take a relaxing trip to the country where everything is simple and wifi is simply nonexistent; mean while your teenager may want to hit the beach everyday and still have the ability to stay connected to their virtual social life. Well, I have carefully thought out 5 Vacation ideas that not only your teen will love, but you parents can enjoy as well!

Florida
    In my opinion, Florida is one of the perfect family vacation destinations because it has something for every age group that could possibly exist in a family. Adults, teens, and youngsters! One of Florida’s biggest attractions though, is yes you guessed it, Walt Disney World. After all you are never too old to meet Mickey Mouse! Even so not to worry teenagers. Despite contrary belief, there is plenty more to do at Disney World and in Florida than meet fictional characters and go on kiddy rides. Disney not only has some tempting rides even adults will love, but water parks as well that the whole family can enjoy! After a day of the most magical place on earth, there is certainly a plethora of other things to do in Florida. You and your family can dine in style at any one of Florida’s star rated restaurants, or simply take some time to enjoy the breath taking view and weather. There is even something for the men in the family, like the beautiful upscale golf courses of Florida. Does it get any better than that?

Brigantine
    Do you desperately need a family vacation, but don’t want to break the bank? Well have I got good news for you! In my opinion Brigantine, NJ is one of the best kept secrets in the world of vacations. Brigantine is placed in a very convenient area if you enjoy things like fishing, kayaking, crabbing, or simply catching some waves. On my vacation to Brigantine, we rented a pretty fair priced shore house and stayed there for a week. We saved a decent amount of money by buying groceries and stocking the shore house fridge. That way five people did not have to eat out for every meal, which saved us a bunch and left more money for other vacation activities. Our house was one street away from the beach and the parents AND kids had fun. For example, on days when the parents would want to go fishing or do something quiet, or just spend some time alone, we teens would walk to the beach and tan, or go in the ocean, walk around town and go in little shops, grab a bite to eat, take a short drive down to Ocean City and walk he boardwalk, or just do our own thing. What a great way to stay close, have fun, and exercise your independence no matter what member of the family you are!

 NYC
Are you and your family not necessarily the outdoorsy type and enjoy being wowed by good food, exciting places, and high fashion? Then New York City is a perfect spot for your next vacation! While it may not be the typical spot many choose for vacation because it’s not exactly the best place to “catch waves” NYC still has loads to offer, and you can always just go swimming in the hotel you are staying at if they have a pool! There is never a dull moment in the city that never sleeps. You and your family can go to the famous wax museum or any kind of historical museum, go to a musical on Broadway, go to a fashion show, eat any type of cuisine your craving, and go shopping of course! After all it is NYC! So if this trip sounds like its right up your ally, look into going to NYC for your next family vacation!

Ocean City, Maryland
   Ever since I was little, OC Maryland has been a frequent family vacation spot. On each trip it gets better and better! Not only is Maryland home to wonderful tasting sea food, it is also a great place to vacation if you enjoy crabbing, speed boating, going on the beach, walking the boardwalk, and much, much more! Maryland has exquisite crab houses you and your family can dine at, and gorgeous beaches to walk on. Go to a great musem while you’re there, or even take a walking tour of OC’s historic down town area. Even with all that keeping you busy, don’t forget to stop by and check Maryland’s famous Assateague’s wild ponies which are only nine miles from OC! Went I first saw the ponies when I was younger, it was a really great experience for me! I will always remember my trips to OC Maryland, and hope other people can have the same magnificent experiences I did!

Virginia
Vacationing in Virginia was also a great experience for my family and I. There was so much to do, and when our few days were up it just didn’t seem long enough! In Virginia there is so many family activities to do that every age group can enjoy. On your trip you can dine at great restaurants, visit national and state parks, relax at spas, golf, visit  historical exhibits, have a blast at Virginia’s theme parks and zoo’s, play outdoor water sports, etc. There are so many exciting and active things to do in Virginia which is why it made my top 5 list! If you’re looking for a great family vacation to be treasured forever, Virginia is your destination! Oh did I mention their salt water taffy is to die for!?

In conclusion, this year when you and your family are struggling to find a place you can all enjoy for a family vacation, why not go to Florida, Brigantine, NYC, OC Maryland, or Virginia? Each place has their own ability of offering you and your family a good time! No matter where a family goes on vacation the most important thing is that they are spending time together and enjoying one another’s company. That being said though, it doesn’t hurt to visit a place like one of my top 5 vacation areas to jump start the fun a bit! Where ever you chose to go on your next family vacation please remember these three things. Have fun, enjoy your family, and be safe!!

Family Vacationing Spots for Teens

Aimee is from West Chester, PA, and she is 16 years old. She has a passion for figure skating, ballet and playing the piano. She loves challenges and aspires to be a lawyer when she is older.

Traveling and making traveling plans when teens are involved can sometimes be more stressful than usual for parents. Teens want to be able to do their own thing, and being on a family vacation can sometimes infringe on this level of independence. It’s important for parents to remember this when they are planning on vacationing with teens and to take it into account during the vacationing process.

Parents can first address this problem by getting the teens involved in the initial planning of the vacation. Teens want to be independent and make their own decisions, so allowing them to have a say in the vacationing location, hotel, or day plans can give the teen a voice in the family and in the vacation planning process.

The ideal locations for vacationing with teens are often on large resorts and places that have room for teens to be more independent during the vacation. Allowing teens to have the freedom and space can make the holiday a lot more enjoyable and allow parent to know that their teens with be within the resort while they are on their own. If there are plenty of activities available to teens – and those activities are interesting and enjoyable for the teens – then they will have no reason to leave the area and parents will be able to know where their teens are even when they are not with them. This level of freedom is a good thing for parents also, because they get relaxing free time of their own also!

Surviving Long Flights with Kids and Teens

This guest post is by Momaboard.com is a site dedicated to making travel with kids fun! We seek out child-friendly hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and cities in general and also provide general travel tips. Check us out at www.momaboard.com or join our facebook page at www.facebook.com/momaboard.

Travel can be daunting, even if it’s a short trip down to grandma’s.

Clothes, food, accessories, a multitude of gadgets, shoes and oh yeah, a $50 fine on overweight baggage.  And an additional $10 if you didn’t pay it online before you were even fined.

With the recession and rising oil prices, airlines certainly don’t make it seem like they put the customer first. I mean, why else would you be allowed to travel with an infant, but not given any excess baggage allowance? Was it a non-parent who made that rule? Don’t they know that infants equate to more stuff than the rest of the family? And with further cost-cutting, who knows what else we will have to give up on flights – free water? Oh wait, too late.

But, there are some joys associated with traveling: vacations, adventures, family reunions, friend visits, and a sense of liberation as you ascend to the skies. Parents particularly get so caught up in the logistics that they forget how much children can learn through travel, by seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, in someone else’s language.  But the distances can be tough so here are some tips to follow to survive long flights when you are traveling with your kids.

1.     Choose your time wisely: If you are doing a long haul flight, try booking a night sector. This may seem counterintuitive but kids (infants included) have a much higher need to sleep through the nights than adults, so it’s possible that the whole gang will be “lights out” before the dinner service is concluded.

2.     Book your seats before hand: Have a broody teenager who wants to be by the window? Need a bassinet seat for your baby? Don’t leave it to chance. Make sure you call the airline way in advance and set up your seating configuration to save you the hassle of having to juggle fellow passengers around to get the family seated together.

3.     Pack plenty of entertainment: Most international flights these days are equipped with personal entertainment systems and many have separate channels for kids’ programming and games. While you don’t want them glued to their joysticks until their eyes turn square, you may want to relax the rules a bit while they are on the flight. If you have an infant or toddler, make sure to pack plenty of books and toys. I usually have my iPad as my one can’t-live-without travel accessory.

4.     Food can be fun: Like you would do at home, use meals on the flight as a time to chat, and engage your children with conversation about what they are eating. For toddlers, you can burn through a good hour playing with the bread, cheese and fruit salads. In addition, make sure to carry several types of snacks to keep them busy for the rest of the flight.

5.     Avoid sugar for kids under 10: Fruit juices, candy, cookies, are all no-nos for your sake more than theirs. You don’t need them going hyper when the aisles are packed with people waiting for the bathroom post-meal.

6.     Be considerate, but not obsessive about other passengers: Sometimes I feel like airlines should do “adult-only” sectors for a large premium for all those people who look offended at the fact that kids are allowed on planes. Obviously they have never had children, or had such horrible experiences traveling with theirs that they are determined to make everyone else’s worse! Keep decibel levels to a reasonable low, and apologize if things get out of hand, but don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s not easy to do what we do.

7.     Delegate: If you are traveling with multiple kids, give the older ones jobs that will keep them occupied, and out of trouble. For instance, your 6-year old can color with your 3-year old so you can take a break for a few minutes. Get your 10-year old to read off the passports to help you fill out the landing cards. If you have a teenager, put them in charge of the whole lot and see if you can spot an empty seat on the other side of the cabin! (Just kidding. Sorta).

8.     Beat the pre-landing bathroom rush: If you have an approximate idea of when you will be landing, start getting the troops prepared 60 minutes before arrival. This is because the bathroom queues usually get longer just after the captain turns on the seatbelt signs. And after that you could be circling for a while and unable to get out of your seat. This is also a good time, while everyone is standing, to pack up the belongings that might be strewn all over your row.

9.     Beat the lag: If you are going to land in the am at your destination, try to get the kids to sleep a bit before you land. That way, you are all able to stay up for a while and give your body a chance to adjust to the local clock. Similarly, if you are landing at night, keep everyone awake so that they crash when you get to the hotel (NOTE: This does not apply with infants who should not be made overtired or it will lead to complete hysteria!).

10.  Make sure your arrangements on the other end are made and that you have enough cash in local currency for a cab and one night in a hotel. The last thing you want is to be stranded with grumpy kids and no place to go after a long flight.

11.  Split your clothes: Pack such that every suitcase has a little bit of everyone’s clothes and toiletries. That way everyone at least has clean underwear if the airline loses one of your bags!

Hopefully these tips will make your flying experiences more manageable, and perhaps even enjoyable!

Bon Voyage!

Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan is a mother and blogger who travels around the world with her 22-month old son, and catalogs her experiences at www.momaboard.com.

Join her facebook page at www.facebook.com/momaboard.

How to Become A Summer Chaser: Follow the Best Weather Around the World

 

vanishing point
Photo credit: [JoeInSouthernCA]
 I, unfortunately, grew up in Southern California. I say unfortunately because although it was beautiful, it spoiled me. Now that I am in my twenties I have decided I want to move away from the Southern California lifestyle, but not the Southern California weather. Since, I am addicted to traveling, I have slowly found a way to pursue the best weather around the world…and cultivate a lifestyle as a summer chaser.

Here is how you can be a weather chaser:

1. Pick Your Ideal Climate

I tend to like Mediterranean climate—70  to 85 degree weather year round and do not care much for seasons. This might not be ideal for you. I know many people who chase moderate seasons all year round. Others, who prefer cooler 50 to 60 degree climate all the time.

2. Match Locations

If you are lucky there are one or two places that actually have your ideal weather year round. Use a climate map to find your places.

 

3. Choose Locations

Even if your locations have your perfect weather, they might not be your perfect place, as I found with Southern California. This is when you can get creative and pick your perfect locations.

4. Make Your Cycle

Once you have picked your perfect locations and weather areas, you can match up when you want to be where. Here is a sample:

Fall: New York City, Chicago, Boston

Winter: Austin, Los Angeles, San Diego,

Spring: Florida, Atlanta

Summer: Portland, Seattle, Napa Valley

Now you can start to plan how you can make a lifestyle to take you to a different place every season or every two seasons. Check out our article on how we make it work and travel for a living.

Ways to Stay Productive over the Summer

Rachel is a 17-year-old born and raised in NYC.  She enjoys writing on any piece of paper on which she could get her hands.  Her favorite subject is English; she wishes to pursue a career as a fiction author in the future.My friend Cůca in dark photo. Summer time :) by MartinVagner.

Summer is here!  Time to relax right? Not quite.  Since there is no school, summer is the perfect time to do what you have been putting off.

  1. Take a class – Whether it’s for SATs or ACTs or even college credit, if you have some time on your hands, find a way to save money!  It’d prevent the thought that going to school would be better than being as bored as you are…and, trust me, we’ve all been there.
  2. Get a job – In a few words: to make money.
  3. Intern – Build up your résumé in a career you would like to pursue.  You would be learning from people who actually work in that field for a living.  An internship can help you create connections, which could be vital when you actually start looking for an opening for your career.
  4. Volunteer – Colleges love well-rounded students.  It could make the difference between an okay college application and a really good one.  It also helps when you need to write your entrance essays.
  5. Research colleges – Just face it: when your senior year finally arrives, the last thing on your mind will be college applications.  Start early!  Get your essays and research all sealed up in an envelope until you need to mail them.  And while all your friends start scrambling at the last minute to finish their applications, you can just smile and simply put your packets in the mailbox.
  6. Spread out your summer homework – I’m realistic: I do not finish all my homework during the 1st week of vacation.  However, I know from experience that if you finish at least one project per week, you will need to do minimal amounts of work per day AND you won’t become an insomniac during the two weeks prior to the resumption of school.  (You know who you are.)
  7. Shop for school – Believe it or not, the best sales for school shopping occurs a month after school ends.  For the past several years, I have been buying all of my school supplies for under $1 (in TOTAL).  “How?” you may ask.  Well, Staple’s has annual PENNY sales; in other words, practically any common school supply cost one cent.  Pack of pencils? 1 cent.  A folder? 1 cent.  The list goes on and on.  Only select brands are sold for this sale price.  Of course, Staple’s does not publicize this event much lest it runs out of stock.  Keep your eyes peeled for those subtle advertisements during the summer time.  You never know; you just might see my siblings and I making cycles from the store to the car.  (You’re only allowed a certain amount of supplies per purchase.)  Save a bundle by stocking up for school!
  8. Plan ahead – Make a calendar to keep tracks of your events this summer.  It’ll help you organize your work, hang outs, and travelling. Happy summer!

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Q & A on Solo Teen Traveling [Teen Article]

Becca is a 16 year-old from West Palm Beach, FL. She loves to cook and travel, and she would like to study International Business in the future.
Solo Teen Travelling
Last summer, I went on a group trip with 30 other teens to a foreign country, and this summer I went back with just one friend to travel solo. These questions and answers provide some insight into the benefits of solo traveling as compared to family trips or teen tours.

Q: Why should a teen travel without a group?
A: Independent travel provides a great opportunity for teens to learn about responsibility. While the responsibility may seem to be too much to handle at first, teens will be forced to rise to the challenge. It can be the introduction to self-reliant living before the reality of life after school sets in. Solo traveling also allows teens to make decisions for themselves at all times. While this may be intimidating for parents, it gives teens experience and can help make them less dependent on adults.

Q: Is solo traveling safe for teenagers?
A: Traveling in general can be as safe or risky as you make it. With careful planning, solo traveling can be safe. The U.S. Department of State provides travel warnings and alerts for countries it considers unsafe to visit. Many precautions have been taken to make traveling safer to help increase tourism worldwide. That said, there can always be risks involved when traveling, but teens, like any other traveler, can take precautions to help decrease that risk.

Q: How can I make solo traveling safer?
A: One way to make solo traveling safer is actually to make it non-solo. Taking one or two friends has a wide range of benefits. It is still virtually independent traveling, as you do not have to worry about the constraints of a large group, but safety in numbers always holds true. Also, traveling with a friend ensures a constant companion and hopefully a reprieve to any potential moments of boredom. Having someone with you may also lead you to visit sights you would normally skip, which you may end up appreciating in the long run. Another way to make solo traveling safer is to do as much research as you can beforehand. If you go prepared with information, you’re less likely to get caught in a problematic situation.

Q:
Where should a solo teen traveler go?
A: That entirely depends on the traveler. There are plenty of cool places to visit both in and out of the country. The first time a teen travels alone, it may be a good idea to visit a place where he or she has friends and family in case of an emergency. If you’re a teen who wants to make an independent trip, prepare a few possibilities to present to your parents for approval. Parents have different comfort levels, and this will play a large role in determining where the teen can travel.

Q: Why not go with a group?
A: While going with a group may be easier than going alone, solo traveling allows teens to experience what they want to experience. In other words, teen tours often have strict schedules and don’t allow for the flexibility of solo traveling. For teens who like to be independent, solo traveling is definitely the best way to go. You can make your own itinerary and only go to sights that you’re interested in and skip those of lesser importance to you. While you won’t have the comfort of counselors, you have the freedom to make your own decisions.

Q: Is solo traveling different for a girl and a boy?
A: As much as I hate to admit it, gender does make a difference in solo traveling, solely based on statistics. This just means that girls may have to take more safety precautions than boys and be more alert. One way to make traveling safer for a girl is to travel with a guy friend if the parents are comfortable with it.

Q: When should teens take their first solo trip?
A: Some airlines consider teens unaccompanied minors through the age of 14 or 15, which is still young for a solo trip. With a planned trip, there is no reason why a 16 or 17 year old couldn’t have as good of a trip as an 18 year old, though there may be restrictions. Younger teens may need to stay with friends or family because most hotels have an age minimum of 18. However, younger teens can still go on great solo trips and have the opportunity of experiencing the maturity earlier on.

Q: How should we get started planning a solo trip?
A: The first step in planning a solo trip is choosing the destination followed by the mode of travel and then accommodations. Research is important because travelers will have to rely on their own resources on the trip. Teens can either plan everything themselves or use a travel service for help. The planning is the first step in independent decision making for the teens.

My solo trip this summer was one of the best experiences of my life, and I highly recommend it for other teens. I learned many valuable lessons and feel more independent and self-sufficient. I hope that other teens’ solo trips leave them with as many amazing memories as mine did.

What Teens Are Doing This Summer [Teen Article]

Stephanie is a sophomore in high school residing in suburban New Jersey. She loves free-writing and dreams of traveling the world.

What Teens Are Doing This SummerWe’re well into the Summer of 2009:

The days are hot,
The nights are long,
And the ocean waves are cool and strong.
(Sorry. I was never good at poetry. But that’s besides the point.)

The point is, with a great year like this, teenagers are not about to let an economic recession ruin their summer fun.

Ever since the recession, families have had to cut down on spending, especially when it came down to vacations or planning summer getaways. Driving becomes a pain when gas prices are sky-high, so road trips have become tough to finance, too.  Many friends and family members of mine have decided to skip the fancy vacations and instead keep their summer plans local and affordable. How is this possible, you ask?

Go to the beach with a group of friends. Check out your neighborhood pool (or relax in your own if you’re lucky enough to own one!).  Visit an amusement or water park for a day. Invite some kids over to have dessert at the local diner, then crash at your place. Want to get a little adventurous? You can always go on a hike, or plan to go parasailing with a buddy. Throw a few well-planned house parties if your parents allow it. It’s so easy to find things to do with friends without going over your budget.

Still finding yourself short of extra cash? No worries. Nothing’s better than saving up with money earned from a summer job. Plenty of my friends have found daytime jobs at restaurants, farms, bakeries, supermarkets, clothing stores, and offices. I know of teens that have even taken to starting their own businesses! Some find it exciting to shadow their own parents at work and gain insight into the business world as well as work experience. Volunteering is also an option that teens are considering as a summer activity. I myself have gotten involved with my town’s local animal shelter, spending time with abandoned animals and helping to raise money for needed supplies. One of my close friends is currently volunteering at a soup kitchen – she absolutely loves it! Volunteering is that special kind of work that gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as peace of mind knowing that through hard effort you’ve managed to better your community. Not to mention, it looks great on your resume! (Plus, come September you’ll have something to brag about to your new teacher. Cough cough.)

Plenty of teenagers are willing to work and stay close to home during their summer break, but others are still itching to hop on a plane or drive down somewhere exotic for the vacation of their lives. I’ve noticed that teenagers are now more frequently going on vacations together and splitting the costs. Renting vacation homes and booking cruises are popular, especially since you can find some cheap deals with both options.  Even though you only have to pay half the price, you’re learning to spend your money wisely which is totally boosting your financial responsibility. Isn’t it more exciting to learn about managing your finances during vacation-time rather than in a boring accounting class at school, anyway?

Before I wrap up, I think it’s important to mention how much of a role technology is playing this summer, too. The internet is HUGE this year. So many websites became popular with teenagers – obviously the more widely-known social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter – but some surprising winners were found in websites like FML.com and textsfromlastnight.com. I can assure you that if teens aren’t hanging out with friends or lying out under some umbrella on the beach, you can bet they’re typing away to their friends on AIM or updating their MySpace status. Looks like being tech-savvy can come in hand!
Okay, so Summer 2009 has been influenced by our nation’s economic state – but not completely revolutionized. Teens are still into having a good time and aren’t about to give that desire up just because money may be a little tight. To all my fellow peers who are looking to make the best of what’s left of our break: enjoy the heat, stay smart with your cash and take the opportunity of making this your best summer yet. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen.