Going My Way? Finding The Perfect Teen Tour - My Family Travels

Considering your teens' summer plans? Read an expert's opinion on the most efficient way to research and make the right choice.

There is probably no more challenging decision-making process for a parent than trying to help (or stay clear of) a teenager in the midst of making summer plans!

Camp counselor? Real job? Au pair on Nantucket? How about world travel?  How about Israel?

“Teen tour” conveys an image of senseless meanderings — bus and train loads of sleeping kids ready to endure the obligatory museum/ruin/museum itinerary in order to win a few hours free time for food, shopping, and fun. Although these types of trips continue to exist, providing as they do free travel and expenses for school teachers and administrators who often plan, staff (and own) them, they are no longer the only items in the teen travel marketplace.

Today there are many wonderful offerings available across the world providing meaningful, well-designed experiences for teens in a variety of special interest areas that challenge the mind, body, and creative imaginations of their participants.

How to Choose a Great Teen Tour

Good teen programs can offer the chance to be with friends for an intimate and intense period of time or, conversely, the opportunity to go off on one’s own, often trying on new “masques,” new personae for the first time.

Choosing a teen trip then can be a complicated process. What should a parent be looking for?

1.  First are the basics. Examine the reputation of the program you are considering. Who is the staff? Can you meet them? What is their experience? Who sponsors this trip?

2. Get practical. How about the fees? What is the insurance coverage? All of these (and more) are perfectly legitimate questions for parents and kids to ask. The answers should determine your choices.

Remember though, teen travel staff are (and should be) hard-working, responsible college and graduate students. Their days will be very long and very hard, with many sleepless nights. You will not likely meet many actual counselors who are older than 30. (If parents had used age as the criteria to judge me, at age 24, conducting my first teen travel program, that trip would never have gone.) Some of the best trips are new. New ideas, new itineraries, new approaches all enter the market each year.

Resources for Teen Camps & Programs

If your teens feel they’re interested and ready to travel on their own, whether for language, sports or cultural reasons, begin your research for the best program with these resources. Sending away a child of any age requires adequate preparation and planning, so allow plenty of lead time when contacting these programs for their brochures.

Peterson’s Summer Opportunities for Kids & Teenagers
A directory of more than 1,600 programs in all price-ranges and interests, including U.S. summer camp programs and learning trips. Information on travel opportunities, tours and work projects includes session dates, activities offered, program history, accreditation, costs and financial aid.

STA Travel
Student travel specialists for air and bus tickets and student identity cards. They list packages, tours, and specials to popular global destinations, as well as information on gear and insurance. STA also participates with many affinity groups to help them organize summer programs.

CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange)
A division of STA Travel, CIEE provides information on work, study and volunteer programs throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico, Latin and Central America, the Caribbean, Australia and the Pacific, and the Middle East.

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