Ahh, the sweet seconds before the final bell rings and the pearly gates of freedom open up at school to release hundreds of antsy high schoolers to yet another anticipated summer! School’s out for the summer and it’s the moment everyone’s been waiting for for months.
Then, one week later, you find yourself sitting on the couch looking longingly out the window and wishing there was something remotely fun you could be doing.
Sure, there are tons of things you could do during the sultry summer months—a part-time job, endless sleepovers, family vacations, and lots of Netflix—but what’s all the fuss over these legendary, parent-free summer trips you’ve heard rumors about? Whether a gap year is for you or you want to trade in your identity as John to be Juan and live with a host family in Spain for a bit, a high school summer abroad is the perfect solution.
Grab your passport, best friends, and sense of untamed adventure, and set off on a summer trip for teenagers that will uncork your global curiosity and quench that burning desire to eat a sushi every day in Japan or flex your linguistic muscles in China. Warning: The travel bug is very real and once you start young, you’ll never want to stop.
What kind of shenanigans can you be up to around the world?
Read on for some drool-worthy summer trips for teenagers that will open your eyes to new flavors, people, and cultures, while giving you an education no classroom can ever produce.
The best way to learn one of the world’s most difficult major languages? Throw yourself right into the center of it all at an impressionable, young age. China Internship Placement’s High School Summer Camp program ensures participants are immersed in the Chinese way of life through culture, language, and community involvement. Whether lodging with Chinese roommates or a welcoming host family, forging cultural connections stands at the forefront of the program’s mission. Return home after a fulfilling summer with the best dumpling recipes in town and the karaoke skills of a seasoned pro!
Parent Perks: China may be big, but CIP’s got a handle on even the smallest logistics to make sure you’re safe and sound at all times. Support staff is available around the clock and students are welcomed right off the plane with a cell phone, orientation, and a transportation card so no loose ends are left untied.
Whether your knowledge of Greece comes from Disney’s Hercules or your local gyros restaurant, the ultimate source of up-to-date, authentic information on all things Greek is Greece itself. The American Farm School organizes the Greek Summer for high school teens aged 15-18, through which you spend four and a half stomach satisfying weeks learning about sustainable food systems and Greek customs. This unique hands-on experience lets you make yogurt, cheeses, olive oils, and other succulent delicacies with local villagers and your new friends.
Parent Perks: Is there a parent who doesn’t dream of their son or daughter making them a world-class meal that’s not out of the freezer? Besides soaking in the agricultural way of life in Greece, your community service projects will also make mom and dad proud.
Ooh la la, how about building up your art portfolio in the fashion capital of the world and home to the haven of fine arts, the Louvre? Earn college credit through this specially designed summer trip for teens at the world recognized art institute, Parsons Paris. If you have a knack for drawing, fashion, photography, or other art fields, you can get your feet wet at art school to decide if presenting trends on Fashion Week or sketching masterpieces lies in your professional future. With endless street musicians, steaming croissants, and the language of love, you’ll never run out of inspiration in Paris.
Parent Perks: A taste of art school at one of the world’s best will solidify your aspirations and let your parents rest easy that your decision to pursue the arts is well grounded. Students are comfortably accommodated at a hotel, so not only will you be guaranteed 24 hour safety, but also a plush pillow to keep that creativity stirring all night.
Barcelona is a concentrated hub of culture and life, bursting at the seams and luring in visitors of all ages with its proud heritage, cosmopolitan spirit, and stunning architecture. Perhaps Travel For Teens' program in Barcelona is just what you need. Build your Spanish language skills through meeting the locals, get up close and personal in the FC Barcelona soccer stadium, and kick back to enjoy a warm summer adventure under the Barcelona sun.
Parent Perks: With transportation, accommodation, breakfast and dinners covered, as well as having guides and chaperones always on site, you will be able to sit back in relax knowing your child is safe and taken care of. With convenient entertainment and food facilities, and have tons of teen-approved planned activities around, there is no doubt every day will be kept interesting.
Apart from literally jumping forward through time zones, traveling to Japan will unlock a whole new world of technology that makes it easy to imagine where the inspiration for fictional robot animes and the advanced robotics industry stemmed from. On the other hand, Japan is famed for its incredibly unique, rich culture that evolved over centuries of isolation and is still an integral part of daily life. This amazing adventure travel itinerary with Travel for Teens will let you discover the niftiest sides of Japan, while including a service learning project to help clean up the lingering efforts from the tsunami disaster a few years back.
Parent Perks: If you’ve ever wished you could travel the world, but your family isn’t able to tag along, hope isn’t lost! Travel for Teens’ itineraries are specially formulated for the interests of teen travelers and include culturally engaging activities, a variety of diverse destinations, and of course, experienced staff to be throughout the weeks of adventure.
Environmental conservation volunteer projects and adventure travel in some of the world’s most beautiful nature reserves? It sure beats lounging on a couch back home, no matter how comfy those cushions might be. Although Pacific Discovery’s summer program is only open to students who have just graduated high school, it’s a perfect way to infuse some raw adventure into your first summer of freedom and kickstart the next chapter of life. This four week itinerary is certainly not for the weak of heart, and non-stop mountaineering, rafting, cultural exploration, and volunteering will get your energized for the big, wide world waiting ahead.
Parent Perks: Befriending a college-aged crowd on this post-high school summer program is a great introduction to what’s to come and a chance to mature through international travel and philanthropy. Rather than feeling like a summer camp, you’ll have more of a taste of responsibility.
How to Make a Summer Trip Abroad Happen ASAP
Even if you didn’t make the deadlines for this year’s summer trips for teenagers, you can give yourself an entire other year to carefully plan and consider your options for the next summer right around the corner. Graduating soon? Many summer high school programs abroad give new grads the option to participate, as long as you’re 18 or under. Check in with each program for specific application requirements, deadlines, and qualifications.
Stop rolling your eyes at the half-hearted HAGS scribbled into your yearbook by classmates you’ll soon forget, and instead HAGS to the fullest by studying abroad!