Traveling to new places is a great way to broaden your perspective on the world, and it’s an experience that will stick with you for years to come. Trips abroad can be difficult to plan as a young person, but lucky for us, there are a lot of programs for student travel that are less of a commitment than taking a gap year or studying abroad. These programs are structured and safe. Group travel may not be your style, but it’s a good way to learn the do’s and don’ts of traveling to other countries so you can apply that knowledge to future trips. Some programs specialize in either volunteer work or adventure activities, and others combine them. There really is something for everyone, and even if you don’t intend to take advantage of these programs, going through their catalogs might inspire you to do something else with your summer.
1. Where There Be Dragons (Adventure/Service)
Image via Where There Be Dragons
Dragons has been around for over 25 years, and their summer programs for high school and college students focus on immersion and education. Each follows nine components, including traveling with respect to the cultures of other countries, teaching students the local language, and service that centers on impact and not hours. Their groups are small and although their programs are somewhat structured in order to minimize risk, they encourage exploration and individual experiences while abroad. They have several programs to choose from in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and offer financial aid for summer sessions. If you are interested in making a commitment, they also offer a gap year – both group and independent – and study abroad programs.
2. Rustic Pathways (Adventure/Service)
Image via Rustic Pathways
Rustic Pathways has multiple different types of programs in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the South Pacific. These range from Critical Issues like climate change to Photography to Language Immersion, and they even have summer sessions exclusively for college students. If you prefer to stick to a schedule, Rustic Pathways has much more structured itineraries than Where There Be Dragons. They also offer scholarships for certain programs and guides for fundraising in order to pay for your trip. The adventure programs tend to be expensive, but many that emphasize volunteer work are more affordable.
3. GIVE (Service/Adventure)
Image via GIVE
GIVE is primarily focused on volunteer work, but their programs also include an adventure component. Each trip has multiple dates, so you won’t run the risk of not being able to go at all because of conflicting plans. They only have summer programs in five countries, but each is well-designed and provides multiple opportunities for different volunteer projects as well as adventure activities, like meditating with monks in a monastery and climbing the Himalayan mountains.
4. IVHQ (Service)
Image via IVHQ
IVHQ was founded in order to make volunteering abroad accessible to more people, and it certainly offers the most affordable programs on this list. They also prioritize responsibility and make sure to be conscious of their impact on local communities and the environment. This program is for adult service work rather than student travel, so there isn’t really a set itinerary for your time abroad. You can choose where to volunteer by destination, of which they have over 40, or by type of service project. These projects include conservation efforts, teaching, female empowerment, and many others.
5. Diverbo (Service)
Image via Diverbo
Diverbo is a program designed specifically to teach English to people in Spain and Germany. The responsibilities of a Diverbo volunteer are simply to talk and provide language immersion for people who are trying to learn English. Volunteers range widely in age, but, like IVHQ, this program is more for adults than for students, although they do have a teen program. Diverbo is a fairly easy but still impactful option for volunteering abroad since the only skill it requires is English fluency.
If you’re dreading having nothing to do this summer, consider going abroad! These programs are a great way to experience and learn new things and make an impact beyond yourself and your day-to-day life.