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Have you noticed there’s no other place for teenagers to talk about travel?

Here you can read what other teenagers have to say about travel – from day trips to journeys abroad, shopping, eating, coasting, and other activities on vacation. Also, parents can read what teenagers like and dislike about family vacations and destinations so that they can plan a family trip that YOU will enjoy.

 

Teen Travel Talk is also interested in YOUR travel experiences. If you want to become a paid blogger and publish your travel stories on Teen Travel Talk, click “contact us” on the left hand side, fill out your contact information and tell us why you’d be a great teen travel blogger.

 



Thrifty Thursdays: How to Survive in Boston on a College Student’s budget

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As a resident college student of Boston, I make up 1 person out of about half a million people in my demographic. Luckily, Boston is a fantastic city for college students for many reasons, one of those being the lack of necessity to spend tons of money to have fun during the school year and summer break. Here are my top four tips for how to survive on that minimal salary you receive from your campus work-study job, while still having maximum amounts of fun.

1) Explore, explore, explore!

Boston is known to be a fabulous walking city and while there is a severe lack of a grid system, one can waste the day away walking around all of Boston’s vibrant neighborhoods. Downtown Boston is the place to be if you want some solid seafood, a nice waterfront view, and a lot of tall buildings. If you’re more like me, some could say “hip-er” neighborhoods like Brookline and the South End might suit your fancy. Plenty of cute storefronts, friendly looking people, and even outdoor markets on the weekends and during the summertime. Just walking around and looking at the architecture is a great time, but do stop in to some of the great bakeries and coffee shops and treat yourself once in a while. My personal recommendations include Flour Bakery in the South End and Athans bakery in Brookline—the best places to get a croissant and a coffee!

The North End is Boston’s resident Little Italy and a small price can be paid for some of the best cannolis you’ll ever eat. If you’re looking for a more post-grad, particularly music-oriented area to wander through, try out Allston/Brighton right along Commonwealth Ave…you’ll be sure to run into some fellow college students. And speaking of college students, Cambridge anyone?

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2) History doesn’t have to be a mystery

Boston is wrought with history, dating back to the 1600s. While some may consider it a little “lame,” walking the entirety of the Freedom Trail is still on my Boston to-do list after three years of living in the city. It’s free, interesting, self-guided, and a perfect way to make fun of tourists (slightly kidding about that one). There are many organized tours throughout Boston, but why not take it upon yourself to be the explorer while also saving some cash for adventures later on. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is another worthwhile option; although there is a small, but worth it, fee to explore that historical museum

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3) Take advantage of free events!

Many museums in Boston offer free viewing nights, such as the Isabella Stewart Gardener, Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, and all are worthwhile events to observe. Boston is also known to have many free food festivals (honestly, what gets better than that?) during the summertime so watch out for those! Additionally, like in many other cities, Boston also offers many summer free outdoor movie showings.

 

4) This isn’t New York…nature is right at your doorstep

From the pond in the Boston Gardens, to the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, to the Newton Woods just outside of Brighton, to the Blue Hills Reservation just outside Boston in Milton, MA, nature is plentiful in Boston. Take a bike-ride down Commonwealth Avenue and you’ll encounter a plethora of parks, green spaces, and-gasp-trees!

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The beautiful thing about Boston is that it is a relatively relaxing city for the average over-committed and stressed-out college student to chill out for a change and enjoy the nature and pace of life in one of America’s oldest cities. And you also don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy some of the best things about the city. So, what are you waiting for? Go have some free fun!

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Healing Thermal Hot Springs

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On my recent trip to visit family in Mexico, we got to visit the Aguas termales (hot springs), located near Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. The ranch is called San Carlos, where you can find many hot springs and campgrounds. My family and I enjoy our trips here because there is something relaxing about the hot thermal water. The water is known to have healing properties since it is enriched with minerals. On a side note, there is a distinct sulfur odor that comes from the hot springs, but once you are there for a bit, you get used to it.

There are many pools and watering holes, that resemble hot tubs, that vary in temperature. There is a large pool that is filled with warm water, this is the most occupied pool.

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There is another large pool, however this particular one is filled with hot, HOT water. Imagine a pool sized hot tub with boiling hot water that is barely tolerable. This one was pretty much empty, for the most part. My grandfather decided to give it a try and withstood the hotness for about 5 minutes but once he got out, he said he felt relaxed.

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On one far end of the campground, a medium sized pool with warm water is located. We preferred this pool because there was lots of shade, on the other two large pools, there was no shade to be found. The sun is pretty intense here, so make sure to bring sunblock!

There is a mud pit for those who want to try the natural exfoliations. Its something that we use to be silly and we had a great time!

If you are ever south of the border, don’t be afraid to explore the road less traveled.

Thrifty Thursdays: Summer in the City (NYC edition)

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Tired of feeling like you have to spend a lot of money to have a good time? I’ll be starting a weekly blog pertaining to ways that the average teenager or college student can enjoy the beauty and excitement that US cities and places of nature have to offer on a shoestring budget for the lazy and unemployed (kidding about the lazy part…watching Netflix all day during the summer totally takes a lot of effort). This summer, I will be living and volunteering in Manhattan’s vibrant East Village neighborhood, and am looking to maximize my fun and minimize my costs. Sound like an Intro to Econ class? Nope, having fun for free is actually quite simple…as long as you do your research. Here are a few categories of entertaining activities that one can partake in for free or at least a very minimal budget.

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Free music

New York is bustling with free music festivals, concerts, street performances, and the Subway also has some serious talent these days as well. As a music lover, my starting point was this nifty compilation put together by the Village Voice. Check out all of the venues listed for some true variety!

My free music summer highlight has been, for the last few summers, the Village Voice’s 4Knots festival that takes place on a Saturday in July in the Southstreet Seaport. Free samples, free music, free fun! Doesn’t get much better than that. Central Park stages many shows throughout the summer as well, and most performers can be heard from just outside the venue fence…why pay to see artists like Beck and Conor Oberst when you can listen to them for free? For you Brooklynites, McCarren and Prospect Park also host some sweet summer lineups as well.

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Dancing and art

Nothing but class in this category. For you artists among us, ArtForum is a great resource to discover up and coming artists in New York’s various neighborhoods. It’s also a helpful tool to use if you want to attend the multitude of free gallery opening events, many which often offer free food and drinks if you arrive early enough. If you’re like me and a classy night out at the galleries isn’t enough, stop by many of the free dancing venues in the city. One that comes to mind is Sunset Salsa in Chelsea, all the way on the West Side between 14th and 15th streets.

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Food and movies

There are ways to score some free food that are more acceptable than going into WholeFoods and trying all of the samples (trust me, we’ve all done it). On any given day in New York, there are likely at least one or two food festivals happening. Sampling all of the scrumptious bites is one way to go but also check out NYEater for a list of some concrete places that cater to the thrifties among us. Free movies are perhaps more plentiful than free food and are offered at a variety of venues that include: Bryant Park in Midtown, Coney Island, Hudson River Park, McCarren Park, and many others. Check out NYCgo for more ideas!

 

Parks and nature

For people looking to steer clear of spending temptations entirely, no worries! As long as it’s a nice day, New York has plenty to offer. Try walking some of the East River Bridges. The Brooklyn Bridge is classic but don’t underestimate the beauty of the Manhattan or Williamsburg bridges. If parks or more of your thing, obviously check out Central Park (touristy but worthy of the title), Washington Square Park (always something happening, especially a great fountain), Union Square Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, or McCarren Park. If nothing else, park-hopping will help you get some much-needed New York people watching in.

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Check out some helpful websites

Research is key. I have multiple websites and online platforms that I check regularly. TimeOut New York is a big help for deciding what to do on a given day or what to do over the course of a summer. There is usually a “free” or “cheap” search tab that makes your hunt simpler, but the site also contains some great resources in case you do want to drop a couple bills for a fun night out. TripAdvisor is also a dependable choice for research, especially with the capability for user reviews and suggestions. NYCgo is another helpful site if you’re looking for more classic suggestions on how to spend your New York minutes. Whatever venue you choose, just make sure to seek out the typically unsought and unknown; that’s where the real magic happens.

The Great Outdoors In and Around NYC

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Palisades Interstate Park

Summer is officially here, which means vacation season is in full swing for most people. I like travelling in the summer too, but prices for everything are higher, so it can inhibit many travel plans. I have to admit that the higher costs have squashed some of my own in the past, but I refuse to surrender my wanderlust hopes altogether. At the same time, I don’t want to drown in debt. So, while I am in the midst of putting together and pruning down some possible big trips for this year and next year, I have some ideas for day trips to explore natural beauties which are closer to home. There are lots of things to do in New York City, but the idea of not getting away from the never-ending traffic, noise, and the baking concrete on days when you can cook an egg on the sidewalk is inconceivable to me. Here are some travel ideas, so please feel free to take advantage of them, if you want to!

If you love nature and want to explore parks beyond Central Park and Fort Tryon Park in Manhattan, check out Palisades Interstate Park, which is part of 100,000 acres of parklands and historic sites and shared between New York and New Jersey. Palisades Interstate Park in New Jersey consists of 2,500 acres of gorgeous hiking and ski trails, trees, and more. Visitors will feel that they are far away from away the chaos and humidity of New York City. I must give honorable mention to Marine Park in Brooklyn and Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, which will make people forget about their everyday, hectic lives for a morning, afternoon, or a whole day.

Beaches are usually crowded on most summer days, but Fort Tilden in Queens may provide some relief from large crowds of sunbathers. Once named the best kept secret beach in New York City, it was re-opened after being heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Now that more people outside of the Rockaways have been made aware of Fort Tilden, make sure to check out the beach in the middle of the week or early in the morning while the weather is still pleasant, if you are able to.

There are so many other well kept secrets close to home for everyone, so do your research and make the best of public transportation and a car if you have access to one. You don’t need a boatload of money to get away from the dog days of summer, so take advantage of the longer, sunny days while you can. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!

The Abroad Option

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Thinking about studying abroad? While to some it may seem like a no-brainer to spend a semester studying somewhere else besides one’s home university, others may need a little convincing. As a recent abroad alumna, I can honestly say that it was the most fulfilling experience of my life thus far and I encourage all those considering the abroad option to keep on considering. Here are a few common concerns with some seasoned advice from myself and peers who have also spent more than a few weeks in a foreign country.

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Q: What if I’m homesick? Four months is a long time to be away from home!

A: Yes, four months can either seem like eternity or it can fly by in a second. Homesickness is a common concern and is entirely valid. Many study abroad offices have sessions for learning how to cope with these issues and have many resources available. Often, when one travels for an extended period of time, the initial phase may seem too-good-to-be-true (commonly referred to as the “honeymoon phase”) but it is quickly followed by an intense period of homesickness. It will likely happen, but for most, it passes quickly once one develops a routine, schedule, and sense of comfort in a new place.

 

Q: Is culture shock real?

A: Culture shock often occurs when one is a culture very different from their own. The common luxuries of home that we take for granted seem necessary when we’re suddenly in a place without them. Culture shock is best dealt with by finding some similarities from home. If you miss your morning cup of coffee, find a nice place for coffee or the local version of coffee in your new locale. It is also best dealt with by shifting your perspective. Instead of thinking all new things are “weird” or “bizzare,” try to see them as unique and ways for you to learn more about a new place.

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Q: What is this “reverse culture shock” I hear of?

A: Culture shock’s evil twin, reverse culture shock, is a mean version of this type of experience when one returns to their home country. Old ways of living, material objects, the pace of life, all can seem strange when one has been somewhere very different for a while. The traveler may feel out of place and confused in his or her own culture, which is not the best feeling. This is often cured by visiting places and people at home that the traveler loves. Both forms of culture shock will pass eventually, one just has to be conscious of their affect.

 

Q: What are the benefits of going abroad? What will I get in insert-exotic-country-name-here that I couldn’t get at home?

A: It’s a big big world out there, and having a small worldview is often limiting in this ever-globalizing world. By getting out there, exploring, and seeing what the world has to offer, we get the chance to be more informed, aware, and active global citizens. Every town, every city, every country has something unique to offer to new-comers and unless we take time to really get to know a new place, we’ll never know what we’re missing. So take the plunge, you’ll be glad that you did.

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