Even though we love to travel with our teens, some of the best experiences for kids are actually travel programs for teens. After spending many years working for teen travel programs in the Caribbean and on sailboats, I’ve seen first hand the power of team building, the strength of building confidence, and the friendships that are built on some of these teen travel tours. There are many different options for different teen travel programs from adventure to volunteering to family adventure tours.
Below you can see information to help you decide whether a teen travel program is right for your kid, how to choose the best travel programs for teens and suggestions on some of the best travel programs for teens.
You might also like: 10 Amazing Teenager Adventure Holidays to Plan for Next Year
Do you have other teen travel programs to include in this list of the best travel programs for teens? Drop me an email or comment below.
Is a Teen Travel Program Right for your Teenager?
Sending your teen to a travel program, especially when the program is abroad, can seen like a major decision. If your teen ready? Is it safe? Is it worth the money?
For many kids this will be their first time away from home or traveling without their families. This may feel uncomfortable for kids but offers so many opportunities for growth and learning. In many ways a teen adventure travel program is excellent for confident kids and also a great experience for teens looking to build confidence.
After working for teen travel programs for years, I would say that a school year or summer travel programs for teens is an amazing opportunity for most teens. Here are just some of the benefits of a teen travel program
- Gaining confidence
- Gaining a new perspective
- Building friendships
- Leadership skills and
- Learning travel skills
- Learn about how others live
- Overcoming challenges and learning perseverance
The only time I would be hesitant to send a teen on a teen travel program is if your teen is completely overwhelmed by groups of people. This doesn’t mean that programs aren’t great for introverted teens, but you may at least want to select a program that is smaller or keeps group sizes small.
You can see more about about teen travel on our Family Travel Page.
How to Select the Best Travel Program for Teens
Below are some considerations for selecting the best travel programs for teens.
Epic destinations often make incredible teen travel programs, but at the same time, many of these places can be difficult or expensive to get to. You will want to confirm with the program whether your teen will be meeting the group at the final destination or whether the tour starts before getting on an airplane.
You should also pay attention to the type of destination – if your teen interested in outdoor adventures, look carefully at the destination and whether most of the time is spent on activities versus traveling. You should also choose a destination that you don’t plan to visit as a family or that offers activities you don’t normally do.
Safety is often on the top of the list when choosing a teen travel program. Don’t hesitate to ask about how the organization handles safety. If your teen will be traveling on their own, you will want to make sure they have the tools to manage the situations. Always make sure they have a way to communicate, phone numbers for emergencies and travel insurance.
Many teen travel experience and tours are expensive. When you think of everything that goes into providing these programs it’s easy to see how the total cost adds up. If you can’t find a program that fits your budget, consider looking at programs closer to home or a summer camp experience. You should also consider what is covered in the program including airfare, meals, travel expenses, lodging and activities.
Opportunities and Activities
Don’t let an amazing destination make you overlook the activities. There are many places that seem appealing but when you dig into the activities you will find that the program doesn’t offer much. You should also choose activities that fit your teen’s interest. Instead of starting with the destination, start with the activities they want to do and search for programs from here.
Another consideration is the length of the program. If you can manage the budget, I would recommend programs that are a minimum of 10 days and ideally program that last 3 week. It takes a few days to settle into a new experience and growth and learning really kick starts after the first few days.
Many programs I helped to run lasted for 3 weeks and it wasn’t truly until the last week where we saw teens stepping up and pushing themselves out of their comfort zone.
Questions to Ask Your Teen Travel Program?
Once you’ve decided on a few teen programs you are interested in, you will want to compile a list of questions to ask the organization. Here are some questions that should either be answered on the website/information or you should ask the program directly:
- How does the program handle emergencies?
- When does the program contact families about issues on the program?
- What fees aren’t covered in the program fee?
- Can you contact a past participant as a reference?
- What training do the group leaders have?
- What is my teens responsible on the program?
- If the teen travel program has a homestay component, how are families vetted?
If you decide that a teen travel program isn't for your teen, you may want to consider a family travel program. These travel programs offer guided tours for families and are a great way to meet other traveler of all ages.
Best Teen Travel Programs
Do you have a teen travel program you want to see included here? Please contact us with the name of the program and a short paragraph about what you offer.
The program Travel for Teens provides enriching and fun travel experience for teenagers. You can find many different types of program for travel around the world. The motto of TFT’s is “Teaching teens to be travelers, not tourists.” The program works to provide authentic experiences for the teenagers that include popular attractions as well as local opportunities and experiences, that goes beyond being a typical tourist.
Projects Abroad helps to to set up volunteer and intern opportunities and projects for young people around the world. Whether you are taking a gap year or looking to give back, this is an amazing opportunity to gain new skills while making an impact. With a long track record of safety and successful programs this is a great program if you’re interested in volunteering.
Sail Caribbean offers multi-week sailing adventures in the Caribbean. These programs offer teamwork and leadership training as well as learn to sail and scuba dive programs. Programs last 2-3 weeks and offer true experiential learning and a fun sailing experience.
Another summer program for middle and high school students based in the Caribbean, Broad reach offer sailing, scuba diving and marine biology programs to students. You can also find exciting programs in other parts of the world focused on veterinary science and marine conservation – explore places like the Galapagos, Fiji, Costa Rica and more.
A summer program for teens focused on adventure travel and service, Apogee Adventures offers programs around the world. Climb mountains, go biking, and spend the nights camping under the stars. The programs focus on overcoming challenges, building leadership skills and creating lasting friendships through teamwork.
Outward Bound offers experiential and outdoor leadership programs for kids to adults. For over 60 years, Outward Bound has been running programs that challenge and teach people about working together and outdoor adventure. You can find programs from a few weeks to a few months in beautiful destinations.
This program offers multi-week summer programs around the world, but also offers shorter programs closer to home making it a great choice if you want to try a teen program for the first time. Programs include adventure activities and volunteer focused tours.
If you are looking for a program that has a strong education component – consider Putney Student Travel. Many of their programs offer language or career exploration. Programs are designed to engage students to learn through travel, while being fun at the same time.
Offering short and long term service trips, Rustic Pathways offer impactful programs in the US and abroad focused on specific projects. Meet locals, explore the culture and make a difference on these programs. You can also find language immersion programs.
Offering summer programs for teens mostly in the Caribbean and Montana, Vision Service Adventures has dug deep into these 3 communities and offer programs that benefit both the teens and the communities. Programs focus on building, environmental projects, and social service.
Common Questions about Travel Programs for Teens
Are summer travel programs good on a College Resume?
A summer program that involves cultural immersion, language development, or volunteering is a great way to set yourself apart of a college resume. These programs are also great as the focus for college essays.
Are travel programs for teens worth it?
A vast majority of participants say that their teen travel experience was worth it and they would recommend it to others.