Sick and tired of hearing college selections and internships? Are you totally over applying for the same summer jobs as everyone else? Do you feel like you’re going to scream if you hear the words “SAT prep” ever again? It’s cool, we know the feeling and have a solution!
If you’re looking to do something unique, exhilarating, and boundary-pushing, consider participating in a student travel program! Forget boring family vacations or stereotypical high school trips...why do more of the same when you can do something #clutch like traveling abroad? Trust us, your sanity, college applications, and Insta will all thank you. If Lizzie Mcguire taught us anything, it’s that overseas travel is what dreams are made of!
[Watch this: High School Study Abroad is LIT]
What are student travel programs?
Student travel programs are exactly like what they sound like...young students can sign up for a program to take them across all corners of the world! Most have some type of educational component, such as language immersion if it’s somewhere with a different language or a cultural class to engage students more, but the focus is on traveling and exploring. Because meaningful travel has become so popular, there are student travel programs for high school students that focus on one specific country and there are others that take students to multiple countries. Whatever your preference, there’s a program out there for you!
[Get matched with student travel programs like...yesterday]
Who can do student travel programs?
Students, of course! Namely, YOU. Whether you’re currently in high school or looking to take a gap year in between high school and college, there are tons of options! Most student travel programs for high school students require that you are enrolled somewhere and have above a 2.5 GPA, but the requirements are pretty lax besides that. Depending on the specific provider and location, there may be language requirements or courses that need to be completed before departure, so check each program carefully!
[Save and compare your favorite student travel programs with MyGoAbroad]
Can I find student travel programs in Europe?
Yup, all over the world, in fact! From student travel programs in Europe (think Norway) to programs all the way in southeast Asia (hello Thailand!), there are opportunities in areas as remote or as cosmopolitan as you can imagine! Whether you’re looking for a traditional travel program or something more unique, trust us when we say there are so many different options that you won’t know what to do with yourself!
To help you narrow down your selection of awesome travel programs, we have selected our top seven picks:
Top student travel companies
When it comes to student travel programs for high school students, these are the best companies to check out. With engaging curriculum in the most interesting places around the world you can’t go wrong!
As you probably could have guessed from the name, Travel for Teens is one of the best choices for students looking to explore! With over 100 different programs in 40 countries across five continents, this provider is a total winner. With a motto of “travelers not tourists”, Travel for Teens is excellent at providing an immersive and meaningful experience rather than just a tour. Their program types include community service, outdoor recreation, language immersion, college prep, and even photography, so if you’re looking for a provider that offers unique trips, this should be at the top of your list!
API is very well-known in the college study and intern abroad world, and they recently have launched an entire section of the company dedicated to just high school meaningful travel called “Aspire by API”. They offer summer programs in England, Spain, France, Ireland, and Italy, as well as summer community service programs in Ecuador, Argentina, and Costa Rica. Don’t stop here, as API is incredibly popular among gap year students, so if you’re thinking of doing more than just a few week travel program, check out their programs for gappers across nine countries in Europe and South America!
For over 20 years, SPI High School Study Abroad has taken teen travel programs to a new level by incorporating for-credit courses and authentic language immersion. Their goal is to combine academics with hands-on cultural and travel experiences to help young students develop real skills. Students have the choice between Spain, France, Italy, Costa Rica, and China, and in between learning vocab and exploring your new region, be sure to get involved with SPI’s many in-country volunteer opportunities!
Most popular program: Spanish Immersion in San Sebastian
Just like the name of the program suggests, The Experiment in International Living is an experiential international learning provider for high schoolers. The Experiment provides three to five week summer trips for students to become immersed in a new culture, pick up some foreign language skills, and explore a diverse region through hands-on experiences with the local community. The Experiment has been a high school study abroad leader for over 85 years, and each of their 32 programs in 26 countries around the world offers a specific theme for students to learn through. With so many options, there’s definitely one that will fit your needs!
Get ready to get down and dirty with some farm animals! (No, not really…) Since 1904, the American Farm School has focused on the agricultural needs of Greece and the Balkans, and in 1970 created the Greek Summer Program. High school students spend a summer living with a family in a rural Greek village, and learn the importance of agriculture and social issues related to refugees through hands-on experiences. The highlight of the summer is the “Big Trip”, where students participate in an eco-adventure like hiking Mt. Olympus and sailing through island communities and spectacular bays. Sounds much better than studying for the SATs!
Despite the name, Campus Education Australia is not just a program down under. For 20 years, CEA has provided educational programs and homestays for teenagers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, and of course, Australia. Their main goal is to promote cultural understanding and world peace, so students are exposed to all types of cultures, languages, and societies to develop critical thinking and social awareness skills, all while tying in awesome adventures like safaris in the Outback!
Looking for something really meaningful in your summer trip? Head abroad with GoBeyond Student Travel! This student travel company focuses on traveling with a purpose, so all trip options offer “cross-cultural service adventures” where students volunteer in underdeveloped communities while having an exciting “vacation” abroad. Students can enjoy traveling and volunteering in places as kick-ass as Iceland, Peru, Thailand, India, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Australia, and the British Virgin Islands, with program options such as watersports adventure, wildlife stewardship, or hiking and walking tours.
Most popular program: Ecuador and Galapagos - Islands, Andes, and Amazon
Related: See all student travel programs in Ecuador
Next steps to signing up for student travel programs
Thinking really seriously enrolling in a travel program? Time to do some narrowing down! While the above programs are some of our favorites, they are certainly not the only options, so use the below resources to help you pick the right one for your needs!
- Use the MyGoAbroad tool to read program reviews and narrow down your list
- Take advantage of our free OnlineAdvisor tool to get matched with your dream program
- Browse scholarships and financial aid options to help finance your trip
- Learn how to find incredible teen travel programs
- Check out this cheat sheet for can’t-miss high school travel programs
- Ready to get LIT? Watch our video on why you should study abroad in high school
- Consider taking a gap year if you’re REALLY interested in getting away from your parents
Now all that’s really left to do is pack, right?
Au revoir mom and pop!
Whether you’re traveling, studying, volunteering, or taking a gap year abroad, any type of international adventure in high school is important! You are never too young to take the plunge into overseas travel, and if there is an additional component that makes it more meaningful such as taking a class or helping an underprivileged community, then all the more reason to go.
So, escape those nagging parents and pressure-cooker schools by taking your studies and experiences out into the real world. We all know you’ll learn more by spending a summer traveling through South America than you will by taking a minimum wage job at the Tastee Freeze!