How Teens Can Travel with Friends (And Why That’s a Fantastic Idea!)
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How Teens Can Travel with Friends (And Why That’s a Fantastic Idea!)

We know life is better with friends. Who can argue with that? It’s like the ending of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. The key lesson in the movie is:

“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”

So traveling with friends seems like a grand idea. But you may have some doubts.

You might have concerns about travel safety for teens. You also don’t want a vacation ruined by any unexpected tension.

Sometimes even the closest of friendships can hit a snag when you’re on unfamiliar ground. On the road, disagreements can arise over money, accommodations, and travel activities. You may even disagree on whether you should sleep in or get up early.

The easiest way to avoid these concerns is to pick a student travel program. This takes away the stress of planning your itinerary. And it adds peace of mind since young students have adult supervision around the clock.

Rustic Pathways Team Fiji welcoming high school students for summer travel with traditional songs played on guitar

Rustic Pathways program leaders perform traditional songs to welcome high school students to Fiji.

When you go this route, you’ll soon see why traveling with friends is a fantastic idea. But first you have to find the right travel program.

How Friends Can Select Summer Travel Programs

It starts with communication. Maybe it begins with texts, though it’s good to be realistic. We’ve all had cases where a plan was abruptly made or canceled via text.

A summer travel program involves much more coordination. So longer conversations are in order. Here are the steps to consider:

1.) Decide when you want to travel

Look ahead and do your best to check various calendars. This may include questions, such as:

When does the school year end and begin?

High schools and colleges will have their current year and upcoming year calendars out by late winter. You can check both calendars for dates.

Do your activities have summer camps or other practices you can’t miss?

Many activities have mandatory – or at least highly recommended – summer sessions.

This may include events ranging from band camp to sports conditioning sessions. You and your friends may not want to miss practices or tryouts that are planned for your favorite activities.

Do your families have any vacations planned?

You have to make sure you work around any family plans. You certainly can’t miss your cousin’s wedding or a chance to see your grandparents.

Do you have work obligations?

Most summer jobs are happy to give you some vacation time. Still, you may have to work around their schedules, so it’s good to check on that.

How long do you want to travel?

Summer travel programs often are about a week long, plus a little extra time for travel. There are longer programs though. And, you can combine two programs to extend a travel experience. So how long you want to be on the road is a key question.

2.) Find a teen travel program that’s right for you and your friends

The next step is the fun part. Where do you want to go and what do you want to do? You can sit down with your friends and look at the options. Among the factors you may consider:

  • Flight time – Do you want something close to home or a farther destination?
  • Accommodations – Are you all okay with camping, or do you want all your accommodations to have Western amenities like bathrooms?
  • Service opportunities – What kind of service would you like to do, and how many hours?
  • Adventure activities – Are you thrilled at the idea of white water rafting or surfing?
  • Cultural immersion – Do you want to spend time with local community members? Is it important to you to have a homestay or cultural activities with villagers?
  • Previous destinations – Maybe your friend has already been to a certain country. Is it time to try something new?

Once you pick your ideal travel program, it’s time to take care of logistics.

3.) Coordinate Your Student Travel Program Registration and Trip Planning

Next, you’ll need to solidify your plans and coordinate your program registration. Try to enroll at the same time as your friends. That way you can ensure there’s enough room in a group for more than one person.

Make it known you’re traveling with a friend or friends. That way the program managers can put you in the same room in the accommodations.

Then you can countdown to your trip together. Among the things you’ll need to do:

  • Make sure you have a valid passport and see if you need a visa.
  • Check to see if you need any immunizations.
  • Sign up for the group flight or book self-managed flights. If you opt for the group flight, plan on how you’ll get to the hub airport.
  • Look at the packing list and buy anything you need.
  • Research your destination, so you’re mentally ready for your adventure.

Once the preparation is done, you’ll be set to go.

What to Expect During Your Teen Travel Program & After

On your program, you’ll have plenty of time with your friends. You’ll travel together, do service and adventure activities, discuss deeper topics, and hang out at night. No doubt it’ll strengthen your friendship as you try new things and explore your destination.

You’ll also have many chances to make new friends. Don’t pass up on that opportunity. Travel programs allow you to meet people from all over the world. And sometimes you’ll find you click with someone from another place. Ryan Barish found this when he traveled with his friend Dean to Fiji.

Ryan hangs out with his new friends on his Rustic Pathways travel program.

Ryan hangs out with his new friends on his Rustic Pathways travel program.

“The trip was so memorable because Dean and I met a guy who would become a close friend. We went into the trip thinking we would meet new people that we’d enjoy being around, but we met someone more than that – someone who shared so many interests and made us laugh like never before,” Ryan said.

These connections often stay strong after returning home. Gabrielle Antolovic says she’s built a network of peers around the world because of her trips. That has prompted her to travel more.

Gabrielle flew to Japan to reunite with some of her newfound friends. She met Joanna and Karen during her Rustic journey to Laos. Joining her on her Japan trip was one of her newer Rustic friends – Conor, who she met while in Peru.

Gabrielle made many friends during her travels with Rustic Pathways.

Gabrielle made many friends during her travels with Rustic Pathways.

“I’m very fortunate to have met the kindest, coolest, and most interesting people on these trips,” Gabrielle said. “It has changed my life in so many different ways, and I’m so thankful.”

These types of friendships are not uncommon in Generation Z. Studies show Gen Z is a leading force in connecting people through travel. When you travel with a friend, you may be motivating other people to do the same.

How Gen Z Teens Travel Abroad

The WYSE Travel Confederation says young people play a key role in creating “buzz” about a destination. Dr. Jeff Jarvis studied this effect in Australia. He looked at international students taking a higher education course in Australia.

He found that 47% of respondents had friends and relatives visit them, and 79% said they’d encourage their friends to come to Australia on a Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa.

In simpler terms, Gen Z teens and young adults encourage their friends to travel and explore. This is leading to an increase in young people traveling.

The Gallup Youth Survey showed the rise in youth travel in years past. In 1986 only about 16% had traveled overseas. By 2005 the percentage had increased to 27%. With Gen Z influence all signs point to a continuous increase since then.

The reasons for travel also have changed with the generations. The travel federation found half of Gen Z travelers are taking trips for holidays with family. That is common in older generations.

But the other 50% of Gen Z travelers take purpose-driven trips. This includes travels for volunteering, working and studying. This percentage is high in part because of the power of friendships.

Friends are encouraging each other to find meaningful experiences and to share them. If you travel with a friend, you aren’t just helping yourself. You’re also making an impact on your friend.

That’s the bottom line on why traveling with friends is a fantastic idea. So if you’re ready to travel with a friend, reach out to a travel advisor and get set for the summer.

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Lead Editor

Mary is the Lead Editor at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.