Taleen Cochran spent part of her summer in Italy with Travel for Teens.
Why did you decide to participate in an overnight summer program?
Traveling is incredibly important to me because I feel like there is so much to learn from each destination you visit. It broadens horizons and encourages independence and quick-thinking, which are all important traits to have. I have always loved to travel, so in the winter of 2017 when I heard that a few of my friends were going to be going to Spain for a couple weeks over summer, I was immediately intrigued. My older sister had also done a trip to Costa Rica when she was around my age, and she absolutely loved it. I knew I wanted to undergo an experience like she did, and hearing my friends discuss their Spain trip made me realize that it was the right time for me to find a trip that I would fall in love with.
Why did you choose Travel for Teens?
There were several factors I considered when deciding on which trip I wanted to take. For example, I knew I wanted to go somewhere that was warm and had beautiful beaches, but I knew that I wanted my trip to have a service aspect, too. I also needed my destination to have good food because exploring different cultures through cuisine is one of my favorite things to do. As I researched I realized that I really wanted to go on a cultural immersion trip that had a few service days in either Italy or Spain. If I am being honest, the main reason Italy won was because of the food! The idea of Italian culture and cuisine was, and still is beautiful to me. As I filtered through Italy trips, I finally decided on the Italy Service and Adventure trip offered by Travel for Teens. It was filled with volunteering and exploration, and included visits to numerous cities in Italy, all of which I fell in love with!
What was a typical day like in your program?
The Italy Service and Adventure program I did was fairly fast-paced. Each morning we would wake up around 7 or 8 a.m. surrounded by new friends. Then, we would all eat breakfast and have amazing Italian espresso at our hotel and begin the day. On days that we were volunteering, we would head to either an Italian monastery or elementary school and help out until lunch. After eating lunch, we would continue to volunteer for a few more hours and then head back to the hotel to discuss plans for the evening. Usually, we would be able to go to the beach or go shopping until dinner time and then pick up gelato on our way back to the hotel. On days that we were not volunteering, we would go sightseeing, hiking, swimming or shopping to fill the space in between meals.
What was the most memorable moment of your summer?
The most memorable moment of my summer was the day that we spent on a boat cruising up and down the Amalfi Coast. I regard this day as one of the best days of my life as I love the sea and am passionate about swimming. We started our day like every other with breakfast at the hotel, and then we walked to the dock where we boarded our boats. We rode the waves and sunbathed on the front of the ship for hours. Sometimes, the captains would take us to popular swimming spots on the coast where the water was such a deep blue I could have sworn it was fake. We also stopped at small beachfront cities where we would indulge ourselves with pasta and gelato. Over all, the day was absolutely incredible and I wish I could relive it.
What advice do you have for teens considering a summer program?
Picking a summer program is not an easy task as there are so many out there! I would say that it is important to pick a company you trust and that has positive, reliable reviews. You want to feel safe wherever you go, so this is essential. In addition, begin to narrow down trips by activities before you filter through them by location. Whether you want to take a trip for photography, language immersion, service or just adventure, there will be many locations that have what you are looking for. Most importantly, keep an open mind when searching. You might find a trip that you never would have thought of doing but that is perfect for you and your personality!