How To: Travel as a High School Student

joyooyoyoIf you’ve read my sidebar, you know I’m seventeen. I’m actually on my way out of high school [Graduating class of 2016! Woo!] but I know tons of kids my age and younger who want to travel extensively, and feel like they can’t because of age or money, when they absolutely can, with a bit of perseverance!

So, here are a few tips I’ve found to be helpful for my own travels! [This is going to be a lot of writing. Hang in there.]

Disclaimer: I’m a middle class girl living in a suburban neighborhood in California. Therefore, my viewpoint on this matter is very much limited, and I’m fully aware that my own personal experiences and advice may not be applicable to people from other strokes of life. Basically, I’m privileged, and it should be kept in mind while reading this post that everyone has a different set of problems to face when considering traveling. So, if you also love travel and have some insight on other methods of travel that make world-stompin’ more accessible to others, let me know, and I’ll add it to this post!

1. See what your school has to offer.
From class trips to tours hosted by your teachers and powered by companies by efTours, you’re more than likely to find a trip that catches your interest.

On the plus side, these trips are usually way cheaper than what you would be paying if you were going alone, and you can feel safe and secure with your teachers, and fellow students with you all the way.

On the down side, though, there are definitely limitations in terms of freedom and the amount of time you’ll have to explore a place on your own, and the trips offered by schools are almost always going to be geared towards teaching you something. That’s not always a bad thing, of course, but having a super-detailed itinerary can be annoying for anyone who just wants to have a good time and do things at their own pace.

2. Take advantage of your youth.
If your school doesn’t have anything pasted up in the office windows, take it as a sign to hit the internet. There are so many weird and wonderful scholarships and travel opportunities available to students! Of course, like, 99% of the time you’ll have to either apply or pay a lot of money or both, but it’s a resource worth looking into.

The only disclaimer there is to watch out for scams. Please, please, always get a responsible adult figure or two to double-check everything before you send anyone money, ever. Especially if the number is in the thousands.

Actually, wait, I lied. That’s not the only disclaimer – ‘voluntourism,’ as it is generally referred to, actually has the potential to be super harmful, so avoid companies that make you pay money to go somewhere and work for free with orphans or whatever. There’s an article about it here.

A good program to look into, especially if you’re interested in learning a language, is NSIL-Y. The program they offer is government funded and free, and aim to teach students languages that they wouldn’t have been able to learn otherwise. However, it is a lot of work, there’s an application process, and they expect you to have actually learned something at the end of the trip! [Applications for the 2016-17 year closed on October 29th.]

3. …And your kind-hearted relatives. [if applicable]
Not everyone’s parents are able or willing to dump a few grand into sending their kid to a different country, but that aunt with a lot of cats might. Even if they can’t just straight up give you money, setting out on your own to visit that uncle who lives in Canada actually has a lot of benefits, if, of course, you don’t totally hate him. Having a place set up for you to stay is always plus, especially if it’s free!

Of course, if your parents think it’s not safe for you to go somewhere on your own based on the belief that you’re not gonna be able to handle it, that’s another issue entirely, and something I’m planning on covering in future posts, so stay tuned by subscribing!

4. Save, I guess.
Yeah, I know. It’s hard, especially for those of us who can’t get jobs or have to help support our families. But if you keep at it and regulate the amount of money you save, even if it’s only a dollar or two a day, and you make and keep goals, you’ll have enough for that plane ticket to France in no time!

I’m planning on making a separate post covering saving ls

5. Basically, tap your resources.
If you’re reading this, I’m going to go ahead and assume if you’re a kid. [Even if you’re not, this might still apply.] People like kids. They want to help us, because we’re small. [??] Reach out to your family, to see if they know anyone in the area–hell, I spent my time in New York staying with a friend of a friend. Look into places that house students or offer students special discounts. Try staying with host families. Reach out, expand your mind, and build connections. The people you meet while abroad are the people you’re gonna remember and tell weird/funny/awkward stories about for the rest of your life, so don’t be afraid to reach out to people you might not know very well, or might not know at all! 

Just, you know. Avoid the potential axe-murderers, please. If possible, video chat with someone you’ve never met before if you’re going to stay with them, or at least touch up with them on the phone to make sure that your nice German host family isn’t actually a sweaty 45-year-old and twelve cats.

6. Remember that anyone can travel.
The first time I traveled alone, I was terrified. [Picture a fourteen-year-old girl crying in the airport because she had to say good-bye to her mom. Yeah. I was that lame when I was a high school freshman.] Even if you’re a seasoned family-vacationer, it can be rough to set out on your own.

But you know what? You’re tough. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are, and you’re going to have a great time, learn a lot, and try a bunch of new things and be awesome. Also, when you get back, you can brag about how great traveling is and annoy all your friends ignite their wanderlust!

That’s all, everyone! Go travel.

6 thoughts on “How To: Travel as a High School Student

  1. EmelyeKay says:

    Glad you are back 🙂

    In terms of number 1, I agree wholeheartedly. I wish I’d had those opportunities. My high school principal was a total wet blanket, worried about everything and didn’t let us go anywhere. It took an army of angry parents and a signed petition just so that she would let us take a 2 hour flight to Disney World (aka like the safest, most wholesome bubble on earth) for an educational class trip (they actually have educational behind the scenes programs there for students, so cool!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • thesweatergiraffe says:

      That sounds pretty neat! My school is pretty big, so most trips are organized by teachers and clubs. There’s a lot of extra paperwork, but it makes for a nice variety. 🙂 Thanks for reading! I always appreciate your thoughtful comments and support 💛💛

      Liked by 1 person

  2. theepowerofgood says:

    I have to admit that I really didn’t like traveling in a group with I was younger, but it was good in that it built up my confidence and gave me the drive to travel on my own.
    I like making my own travel itinerary and spending more or less time on things – what can I say?

    Liked by 1 person

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