March 28th, 2010
For our senior year, my friends wanted to plan a trip just for us–a teen getaway without parents, teachers, or the burdens of homework. We had all sorts of suggestions, each more and more elaborate. Bintan! Bali! Eurotrip!
In the end, I went with a friend to Hong Kong for a week during Spring Break. Now that I’m back, I can share some advice on how to plan (and execute) a teen getaway!
- BE REALISTIC: A six week trip around Europe, touring ten countries? Sounds wonderful but…it’s expensive.
- BE CAUTIOUS: Recognize that there are places you are too young to travel to by yourself, or are just way too dangerous. When I was first looking at places to stay, I searched a lot of hostels online that I thought were safe. By my dad’s account, they weren’t. I stayed at a family friend’s apartment instead, which is what I suggest. Also, asking friends and family who have been there is crucial for insider information.
- BE ORGANIZED: Plan out an itinerary before you go and show it to your parents. You’ll feel better knowing you have a plan to pack all the amazing sights in and your parents will feel better knowing where you are at each stage.
- MAKE A BUDGET: Especially if you don’t have a credit card, making a budget is extremely important. Also, keep a detailed expense report, including receipts, during the trip.
- FIND FUNDING: Are you paying for this trip? Start saving up! If you’re expecting your parents to foot the bill, still save up and offer to pay for part of it. The deal my parents and I had was that I had to pay for the airfare and come up with a travel plan and then they would pay for the rest of the expenses as long as it was reasonable.
- SELL IT: Using your carefully budgeted, organized plan, make a pitch to your parents.
- PACK EFFICIENTLY: Lugging around huge suitcases (especially by yourself) is a pain. Do you really need to bring that dress? Are you really going to have time to read those five books? Travel light with as small toiletry containers and as few shoes as possible. I went to Hong Kong with sneakers and flats. That’s it. Also, not everyone on the trip has to bring a camera! My friend and I had one between us.
- BE SAFE: Always be cognizant of your surroundings. Bags that you hold close to your body with several zippered compartments are the best. Also, pack your money as close to your body as possible rather than in the outer pocket.
- TAKE PHOTOS: This sounds obvious, but it’s incredibly important. If your parents are funding this, they want to know that you made use of their funds.
- SHOW OFF: This goes along with the previous step. When you get back, don’t go hide in your room. Show off! Tell all the incredible tales of your journey! What did you see? What did you do? And, most importantly, what did you learn? Give a slideshow presentation answering these questions, and you’ll have a lot better chance of going on a trip again.
Good luck planning your trips! Anyone else have some good advice?