How to Travel for 16-20 Year-Olds

Although I’m 24 myself, I tend to have a lot of readers in the 16-20 year old age group.

Not a week goes by where I don’t receive at least five emails or messages from my younger readers, asking how I started traveling and how I’m able to travel so much now.

I’m always happy to answer their questions, but I realized that it might be helpful to write a post about it. So, here are my tips and suggestions for how you guys can get started!

Me at work, age 19
Chances are, you’re a student. Whether you’re in high-school or University, it can be difficult to work while studying. If you can manage it, try to get a part time job after school hours and on weekends.

When I was in high-school, I worked as a part time waitress. Not only was I making money from my working hours, but I was making tips.

When I decided that I wanted to spend my summer in Italy, I started saving all of my tips. I kept them in a sealed jar (I’m talking super glue and tape), until it was full.

I also placed a smaller jar on the counter asking customers if they wanted to contribute to my travels (I lived in a small town, where everyone knew everyone). I ended up saving over $700 in tips alone!

This might sound easy, but it can be quite difficult to save your money. You’re going to have to work at it, and miss out on a lot of the things that you really want.

Do you really need a new cell phone, or that 60 inch flat screen in your bedroom? Do you really need to buy your lunch every day, or go out for dinner every weekend?

Cutting back on the big purchases will obviously make a huge difference. It’s time to start cutting back on the little things, too.

Don’t pull through the drive-through after work, just because it’s easier. Leave your debit card at home, if you’re going to the mall with your friends. Pack snacks wherever you’re going, so you don’t end up buying food throughout the day.

Did you know that you can create a custom name to label your savings account at the bank?

Think of the possibilities. “Summer in France”, “Trip to South America”, “US Road Trip”. The list could go on.

Basically, if you put a name on the account, it becomes more specific. It becomes a goal.

You will not be able to withdrawal this money on your debit card, and will only be able to access it by going into the bank.

This will make it less tempting for you to frivolously spend the money, and you will be able to save more.

There are more exchange programs out there, than I can count. If you do a little online research, you should be able to find ones specific to your own city or region. However, there are a lot of worldwide or National programs as well.

I went on my first youth exchange the summer after I graduated high school. I had decided to take a year off before starting University (I was seventeen), and wanted to spend my summer in Italy.

I applied through Lions Club International, and was soon on my way to Napoli airport. I spent my summer with different host families, and a couple of weeks in an international youth camp.

I still consider it to be one of the best summers of my life, and would highly recommend it to any one that fits the age group!

I loved it so much, that I attended another Lions exchange four years later. When I was 21, I spent my summer doing the same thing in Turkey. I think I enjoyed the “exchange experience” better the first time around, so I would suggest doing it when you’re younger. Though, I absolutely loved Turkey.

This is actually something that I never had the chance to do myself, but always wanted to!

There are a ton of ways to do a school exchange, whether you do one through the school itself, or through an external source.

The process can sometimes be lengthy, and will involves paperwork and interviews, but it will be worth it. Just think of it as a little extra homework.

Many high schools offer school trips or short exchanges. You should speak with a counsellor at your own school for more info.

You could also get involved with an association like Rotary International, which sponsor year-long academic exchanges abroad. I always wanted to do this, but didn’t learn about the Rotary club until I graduated!

Volunteering can be a great way to see the world. Not only will you be traveling, but you’ll be doing something to give back.

There are plenty of volunteer programs out there, so finding one should be a problem. A couple that I’ve spent some time researching are Ubelong and Projects Abroad. These two programs are the best in their categories.

I plan to do some work with Ubelong in the next year or two, either doing environmental restoration in the Galapagos, or studying genocide in Cambodia. Or, maybe both!

Unfortunately you will have to save a bit of money to volunteer, because, even though you will be working, you will need to afford your room & board.

Voluntourism shouldn’t be seen as a way to get cheap travel; it is a way to do something good for others.

International friends, that is. Unless you’re lucky enough to meet international exchange students in your own school, this step might come after you’ve already done a little bit of traveling.

If you have friends in other countries, not only will you be more wanderlustful to get to their country, but you will also have somewhere to stay when you get there!

Don’t forget to extend the same offer to them, but it’s great when you have someone to host you while you’re traveling abroad. Staying with a local will help you see the real lifestyle and culture of a country/region, and you’ll see more than you ever could in a tour group.

When I first started University, I made two trips to visit the home-countries of my new Uni friends. I went to England for about ten days during Winter reading week, and to Trinidad & Tobago for two weeks just after spring exams.

Traveling to spend time with International friends is a great way to travel.

 

A note to my younger readers; just comment below if you have any more questions!
I’m always happy to help πŸ˜€

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10 Responses to “How to Travel for 16-20 Year-Olds”

  1. memographer
    July 9, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Good read! Hopefully, it will help young travelers to make the first step on a travel track. And when one is on the track, it is just impossible to jump off πŸ™‚ You get hungry for more and more and more…
    memographer recently posted..Salzburg: Mirabell Palace in Polaroids

    • Seattle
      July 9, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Haha–it’s definitely a hunger!

  2. Over Shyness
    August 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Some great advice here. I’ve had my pack sitting in the corner of the room for the last few months while I’ve been saving up.

    Thanks for the names of the voluntourism places. Since I don’t really mind where I go I might as well do some good while I’m out there.

    Another handy tip is to remember you can also work online. Places like odesk let you work online while you travel (if you are somewhere with an internet connection) or you can sometimes find part time work while you’re on the move.

    Great blog, cheers.
    Over Shyness recently posted..How to Approach a Girl – Girls Advice

  3. Shirine
    December 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Take off and go! The best thing you can do is to travel when you are young, it will shape your life. I lived in Europe for a year at 16, backpacked alone through South America for a year at eighteen, and now, at twenty, I am cycling around the world (for the next five or six years). Anyone can do it! I was a nanny, making only just over minimum wage, but it is possible to save up when you cut out all the extra things ou don’t need, and it is very possible to live for cheap abroad!

    Travel young people, it is the best thing ou can do!!

    Awanderingphoto.wordpress.com

  4. Maaike
    January 29, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    Hey Seattle, thanks for this post! There are a lot of good tips in here!
    I myself am a 16 year old girl from the Netherlands and I’m really a traveloholic (not sure whether that’s an existing word but you get me :P)
    I’ve already travelled a lot for a girl my age, to England, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Serbia, Italy, Slovenia, Bulgaria… Well, I could go on for a while. But most of these travels were with family who payed and took responsibility for planning the travel/vacation.
    The only times I travelled on my own was when I had to go on an airplane on my own for the first time to Bucharest, Romania, where my dad lives. But arriving there I was with my dad so I wasn’t alone anymore. An other time was a schooltrip to Greece but ofcourse that was with schoolmates and teachers. A third, upcoming time is in May when I’m going to Barcelona, Spain with my best friend; the actual first time without adults.

    It is my biggest dream to travel more and more, to further and more exotic and adventurous countries and cities. And I want to do that on my own responsibility, I want to plan myself, I want to pay myself, if necessary, I also want to travel solo.
    And I always read these texts about the best way is to travel while you’re still young, that you should start now, etcetera etcetera.
    But I always thought: I’m only 16, I’m still in school, I have a job in a supermarket, I’m under age so my parents still have power over me (that sounds more negative than it is, but I simply mean that I’m just not old enough – according to the law – to be able to make my own choices and be truly “free” in what I do)
    So how am I ever going to be able to travel now, at this age?

    But then I read this post of yours and I saw the “youth exchange” part. I immediately looked it up on Google and I was so excited about what I read. This truly seems an amazing experience and I most certainly want to do this! I already even decided where I want to exchange to: to Finland, as I am a huge fan of Scandinavia and its beautiful nature, and I’ve never been to Finland.

    And so I want to ask you more about this youth exchange from Lion’s International Club. How exactly does this work? How did you apply for this, what do I have to do, do I have to do something extra before or after applying? How about the payment? How long is the duration of the exchange normally? What are usual things/activities that are done during these exchanges?
    Just if you could tell a bit more about it, including own experiences, that would be very nice πŸ™‚

    I now see that this is a very long comment, I hope that’s not a problem. Also I apologise if my English is not that awesome, I’m from the Netherlands so there might be a few mistakes..

    And last but not least: I love your blog and you are truly my inspiration! πŸ˜€

    Greetings,

    Maaike

    • Seattle Dredge
      January 29, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

      Hi Maaike, Thanks for your comment, it’s not too long, I love a good read ;]

      First of all, I’m excited for you to go to Barcelona for your first real non-adults trip. I’m sure you’re going to have a great time. But, I’m even more excited that you’re interested in the Lion’s Club youth exchange program. I did it twice (at age 17 and 21) and absolutely loved it. There were some participants from the Netherlands in my groups, so I know the Lion’s Club is alive and well there, as it is Finland. You will want to check out their website, and the Youth Camp exchange directory (a list of the camps available 2014). There appear to be five camps in Finland this year, ranging between July 7 and August 20, all accepting ages 16-21. Most camps are two weeks long with one week of living with local host family (for Europeans, and two weeks for International). Applications are due March 15, so you should get to work soon. You will want to call (preferred) or email your local Lion’s Club, which may be found on the directory page or just do a search online. Just tell them you’re interested in applying for the youth exchange program. They will be able to give you detailed instructions on applying, but basically you will provide your top three country choices, all your personal info and have a meeting with the club. Some clubs sponsor a small portion of the trip, while others sponsor the entire trip. Either way, the only expense is the airfare. your family may be asked to host a youth in exchange. This all depends on your local club. You won’t have much to pay for once you are there, aside from souvenirs, etc. Meals, accom and activities are included. All camps are different activity-wise, but you can see the themes on the directory page. Personally I think the Santa’s Midnight Sun – Rovaniemi one looks awesome, because I love Lapland :]

      Anyway, that got long too, haha. Hope it helps, but let me know if you have any more questions!

      • Maaike
        January 29, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

        Thank you so much for responding so quickly! Thanks for the links, I’ve looked through the camps in different countries, they all seem so amazing! Sadly for some you need to be 17 or 18, but luckily for Finland 16 is accepted πŸ˜€ I had already sent an email to the – I think – chairman from the Finnish Lion’s Club, but I’ll be sending one to the chairman from the Dutch Club as well. And I totally agree with you, the Rovaniemi camp seems the best to me as well πŸ˜€ Northern Lights ^^
        Now I only need to tell my mother about this and hopefully she’ll give permission. But my mom’s not the hardest and she’s a traveloholic herself so big chance that she thinks it’s a great idea πŸ™‚
        Thank you so much again!!

        • Seattle Dredge
          January 29, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

          Ah awesome, seems like you’ve already got it all figured out! I hope everything works out and you’ll be off to Finland this summer. It sounds like your mom will say yes πŸ˜€ There won’t be any Northern Lights in the summer, but there will definitely be midnight sun πŸ™‚ Enjoooooy!

  5. Courteney
    May 20, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    I’m 16 and going to turkey in June on my own but I was worried do you have to be a certain age to get your visa done there I normaly with family just walk up to them and go can I do that now I’m on my own?

    • Seattle Dredge
      June 3, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

      Sorry a bit late.. I don’t think there is an age restriction, but you may want to call the embassy or something before going (if you haven’t already).

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