How To Compare And Choose A Teen Travel Program That's Best For Your Child - Road Less Traveled

Posted by Liz Seyi on March 26th, 2024

So, you know all about the potential benefits of participation in travel programs for teens, including the opportunity for cultural immersion, developing personal skills, new friendships, exploring new countries, and contributing to meaningful service projects. 

But as a parent, it can be much harder to find “the best teen travel program for your child” and you might be a lot less sure about what you should be looking for in a good travel program. 

To help you narrow down your options, our team at The Road Less Traveled (RLT) has set out some of the things you should expect from the best travel programs for teens!

  • Extensive and relevant experience 

Given that your teen will be potentially traveling to the other side of the world, you will want to make sure you choose a program from a company with an excellent track record of running such trips for young people. Ask them about their experience and leadership running their summer programs. 

Here at RLT, we have been operating successful travel programs for teens since 1991! So, you can have the utmost confidence that we will have everything covered for your teen’s time away. We encourage you to schedule a Zoom call with one of the directors so you can meet us face to face and ask as many questions as you want. We want you to feel happy and excited sending your kids with us, and comfortable that you have made the right decision by choosing RLT.  

  • ACA accreditation 

It is a great sign, too, if a teen travel program that you have your eye on is certified with the American Camp Association (ACA). This indicates that the organization running the program understands and implements policies that adhere to industry-recognized health, safety, and risk management standards. That’s something all teen travel programs should do. It's a good benchmark for high quality programs.

To be ACA accredited, you must be reviewed and assessed by the American Camp Association every 3-4 years, to ensure you are following your policies and remaining up to date with any changes. Here at RLT, we have been accredited for years, and passed our most recent re-accreditation inspection in summer 2023.

  • Inspirational and Memorable Trip Leaders 

Ask anyone who has ever participated in a teen summer program, and they will tell you the camp leaders play an immensely important role. When comparing travel programs, ask about the leaders, and learn about the people who will be caring for your child over the summer.

Sure enough, here at RLT, we take great pride in our highly skilled and experienced trip leaders, who know exactly what to do to inspire and teach the young people who embark on trips with us. The leader's enthusiasm and energy is contagious and every summer students share stories and reflect on how influential our leaders are on their experience. As well as being fantastic role models, they are also Wilderness First Responder certified, driver training checked, DBS checked, and undergo an intensive recruitment and training process before being placed in the field. 

  • Small group sizes 

Crucially, we also maintain small group sizes here at RLT, with three leaders per group. This allows for the requisite individual care and attention to be provided to each child, to support them through every stage of the trip and promote their personal growth. We get to know each child on our programs, build a relationship with them, and spend individual time helping them get as much out of their experience as possible. While the maximum student to leader ratio on our own travel programs for teens is 8:1, it can be as low as 2:1 when working with expert guides. So, this is something else you should be considering when you compare travel programs for teens. 

  • A thorough student recruitment process 

Before your teen enrolls on a particular travel program, it is important for them to be confident they have chosen the right program for them. The company running the trip should also follow an extensive process, so that they can be sure participants are well-matched to the specifics of the program. 

This mutual need is reflected in our own comprehensive recruitment and enrollment process here at RLT. It involves an online application, a teacher or coach reference, a participant conversation with one of the directors, and the child’s parent filling out a comprehensive health history for their teen, so that we can be sure of catering to whatever medical, behavioral, or social-emotional requirements the child may have during their time on the program. 

Whatever teen travel program you ultimately choose, you should make sure a suitably thorough process is followed. This will help reassure you that every student on the trip with your child should be on that trip, and has the same level of interest and commitment to the program. 

  • Positive reviews, references, and testimonials 

Choose your teens summer travel program because it is genuinely the best option for your teen, rather than because the company was great at “selling” it to you! You should never listen solely to the company themselves, ask around to hear about other families' experiences.

Simply typing the name of the teen travel program you are considering into Google, followed by “reviews” or “testimonials”, might be enough to show what experiences past participants and their families have had with that program or operator. 

Or the organization running the program might have a section of its website thatshares some such testimonials and reviews! If so, be sure to check out testimonials both on and away from the travel program’s own website, to give yourself a rounded view of their quality and suitability.

You can see our Google reviews here, our Facebook reviews here, and we are also happy to share reference lists of families who have traveled with us before, so you can hear directly from them about their travel experiences.

Hopefully, the above advice will have helped give you a starting place when you are comparing travel programs for teens, as you consider which ones could be most suitable for your child. With that knowledge, why not check out the programs we have available for summer 2024and schedule a call with a Director to learn more about why we believe our programs are the best student travel program out there! 

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Liz Seyi

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Liz Seyi
Joined: August 13th, 2019
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