In a prior post, I outlined 10 tips for parents of teens going on their first trip abroad. In part II, my recently returned daughter offers 10 tips of her own based on her travel experience.
1. Jet lag can be hard on your mind and body
Our trip began with a 1:45 am wakeup, a two-hour bus ride to the airport, a five our plane ride, a two-hour time change and another one-hour bus ride to our accommodations. Even though I was really excited, I was sick to my stomach and very out of sorts when we finally arrived. Which leads me to …
2. Speak to your group leader about any problems you have
After speaking to a friend, I decided to go talk to my group leader about how I was feeling. We talked for half an hour and she calmed me down. I am glad I chose to reach to her instead of calling home or continuing to feel bad. After our conversation, I was able to refocus on why I came on the trip and started to enjoy myself.
3. Don’t expect anyone on your travels to speak English
Part of our trip was working as counselors for kids in a local camp. I knew they would speak Spanish but I did not realize they would speak NO English. While I was still able to connect with the children through activities and gestures, some basic Spanish definitely would have been useful. It was a good lesson for me on communication.
4. Things do not always go according to plan
Throughout the trip, many things did not go as expected. Departure and arrival times were constantly changing, and there was never a definite plan for each day. One day we were supposed to raft to our next destination, but there was a huge storm so we took the emergency exit—a three-mile hike through the jungle in the rain. At first it was difficult to have no set schedule, but I learned to be flexible. It was important to just go with the flow rather than worry about the unknown.
5. Local food can be hard on your digestion
Even though it was not on the packing list, I wish I had brought some snacks from home—granola bars, pretzels, etc. While I wanted to try everything that I could not have at home and I enjoyed the new foods, some stuff was tough on the tummy.
6. Photos are awesome but don’t be a slave to your camera
I am conflicted on this because now that I am home, I love looking at the photos from the trip that my friends took and kindly shared. But for me, I did not want the hassle of carrying my camera around and worrying that it would break or that I might lose it. I am lucky that most of my friends did not feel this way.
7. Don’t check your Facebook page or update your status
You are away so be away. Everyone from home will be there when you return. It is unfair to yourself and the people you are traveling with not to be present.
8. Do everything you can
Our trip including many once in a lifetime opportunities—some of which were a little scary.
With careful supervision we rafted, hiked, zip lined, jumped off a boat into the ocean and even repelled down a waterfall. Even though I was a little nervous, I decided “YOLO” (you only live once). While I might not repeat some of these activities, I had so much fun and I don’t have to worry about what I might have missed out on.
9. Don’t tell your parents little complaints—they worry
Communication was a little hard because in many places the phone connection was weak. I liked talking to my parents, and I know that wanted to hear from me. But I tried not to tell them too many little issues because I wanted to take care of myself. Only tell your parents if you have a real problem you can’t handle.
10. Thank your parents
This trip was such a beneficial experience for me. I became more independent, stepped out of my comfort zone, and I had such a great time. My parents are the reason that I am able to have experiences like this, and I am so lucky that they work so hard and allowed me to have this opportunity.