How Teen Travel Prepares You for College

Tziporah Lax05 Apr, 2023

ecuador galapagos teens on a boat

Traveling with a teen adventure company like Bold Earth is more than just a two week vacation. On Bold Earth trips, you’ll have the opportunity to learn many real world skills that you’ll need moving forward in life, whether that’s back at home with family or making the leap to college. Trips like these are launching points for teens who are beginning to think about what comes next. If that’s where you’re at in life, read on to find out what kinds of things you might be able to learn on one of our trips.

Packing Up

When you prepare for a Bold Earth trip, you’ll be faced with the challenge of figuring out what you really need with you on a daily basis. You’re limits are usually what you can carry comfortably in a duffle bag and a backpack or some combination of similar luggage. You might be going somewhere that can have variable weather, like sudden rainstorms in Costa Rica. You might need clothing for all kinds of sports, like rock climbing, rafting, and surfing in the Pacific Northwest. You’ll also need your overnight essentials and required gear, like tent and sleep set up.

It may seem daunting at first to figure out what you really need, but once you have a system down for packing and re-packing, it’ll become invaluable knowledge to have. Having everything you need for several weeks of travel is pretty similar to knowing what you’ll need for your first semester of college. Being an efficient and streamlined backpacker makes travel and moving easier throughout your life. 

Group Dynamics

Flying to a brand new place with a group of strangers who you’re going to live with for the next couple of weeks is a pretty wild thing to do. It takes a certain willingness to put yourself out there. Just like showing up in the dining hall for the very first time or taking a seat at your first college freshman lecture, there will be moments of awkwardness where you miss the people and places you’re familiar with.

On a Bold Earth trip, you always have one thing in common to fall back on. Everybody there chose to come on this trip because something about it excited or interested them. Finding those common interests and activities is a huge part of navigating the social dynamics you’ll find in college. Making friends with people you meet through school, work, and circumstance is a life-long skill that you never really perfect. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at it.

teens together in costa rica 

What’s for Dinner?

One of the great joys of independent life is getting to choose what you cook and eat. For some, it comes as a surprise when they realize the time and effort that goes into meal planning and preparation. Many college students live off of instant noodles because it’s challenging to figure out how to cook and meal plan while also tackling difficult academics, new social lives, and work-life balance. Apart from being unhealthy, eating only instant meals takes away your ability to enjoy the foods you grew up loving. It also robs you of the chance to discover new cuisines and figure out your own, unique tastes. 

Traveling with a teen adventure group is the perfect place to learn these skills. On a Bold Earth trip, many teens are learning how to cook their favorite meals for the first time. Some come in knowing lots about the kitchen and act as mentors. Others haven’t done their own grocery shopping before and are just figuring out how to make the foods they like to eat. These trips are a creative space to design your own connection to food that will grow with you into young adulthood. 

Evaluating and Managing Risks

Travel is risky because it’s filled with things that are new to us. Landing in a foreign place exposes you to whole host of unfamiliar sensations that can be positive or negative, fun-filled or extremely challenging. Going to college carries its own emotional risks because we don’t know if we’ll fit in, how we’ll react, and who we’ll end up making friends with.

New experiences like these contain aspects of risk, but they’re also incredibly rewarding. Doing something that scares you is an important part of growing. Without challenge, there’s no opportunity for us to learn new things about ourselves and empower our identities. However, there’s an analysis that must take place. Weighing the risk and the reward of a certain experience and learning where the balance lies is a key skill in life, even beyond college. 

Many of us don’t have opportunities to learn how to evaluate and weigh risk versus rewards until we’ve learned something the hard way. On Bold Earth trips, we want you to be able to start thinking about these concepts in the real world. That’s why our trip leaders encourage independence by having students lead aspects of the trip through rotating duties.

teens rock climbing in mountains

Relational Learning

Many of the most important things we need to learn when we make the transition from living at home to being an independent college student aren’t things we learn academically. Navigating the world as a young adult is a complex blend of managing your own physical and emotional needs, pushing outside of the comfort zone, and balancing conflicting desires.

How to be a human in the modern world is a lesson we never stop learning. We take many of our cues from role models, people we meet in life who we admire for the way they choose to navigate these complexities. At Bold Earth, we invite students to become both mentor and mentee in their relationships. There will be moments on each trip where different strengths are needed and different students will step forward as leaders, collaborators, or supporters.

Having groups of kids from all over the country and world creates a unique and diverse set of peers to learn from. Everyone has a different way of approaching a certain challenge and each method comes from their perspective, background, and past experience. This provides an interactive learning platform where students are in open dialogue about the many ways to problem solve.

In reality, this process often looks like a group of friends sitting in the grass or walking through the campground, talking about what they should do next. When they have some ideas, they’ll come to the trip leader who will give feedback. Trip leaders are often learning as much from their students as students are from leaders.

The community we build between students, leaders, outfitters, families, and the places we travel becomes a life long resource to look to when trying to figure out how to overcome challenge.

A group of whitewater rafters paddle through a portion of the Grand CanyonIf you’d like to learn more about our 2023 summer offerings, you can find our full list of adventure camp trips here. Still have more questions? Feel free to reach out. We can’t wait to meet you.


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