Summer school vacation can be a challenge for parents and kids alike, especially for the parents of teenagers. Many teens tend to become bored and can struggle in the absence of their everyday routine, especially if their friends are away. While encouraging your teenager to get a summer job or signing them up to attend a summer camp can both be good solutions to this problem, you also might want to consider registering your teen for a summer educational tour.
Educational tours are travel experiences designed for teens that allow them to experience a new place and culture, meet people their own age with interests similar to their own, and engage in a hands-on learning experience in a field that interests them. Since teens travel on their own, without their parents, educational tours can also help teens gain a sense of independence and can help foster responsibility, resilience and maturity. Having an educational tour experience on your teenage child’s resume can also be a plus when it comes to applying to colleges.
Most educational tour programs provide supervised housing and meals for participants. There is generally also a daily schedule that includes some sort of classroom or hands-on instruction, as well as opportunities to travel to nearby cities and educational attractions to experience the local food and culture. Tours can last from a couple of weeks to a month, or even the entire summer.
Several companies around the world offer educational tours for high school age kids, with a seemingly endless variety of destinations and experiences available. See below for a few educational tour ideas to get you started with your research.
Educational Tours in Europe
With several countries to choose from and a wide variety of cultural experiences, from world-class museums to ancient ruins, Europe is one of the most popular destinations for educational tours. Some European tours offer language emersion experiences, while others concentrate on subjects like history, art, technology, or writing.
Pros: Your teen will get to experience another culture and language, and will have the opportunity to visit important cities like Paris, London or Rome. Travel to a foreign country can often be a life-changing experience that can help teens better understand the world around them, as well as help them cope with life changes like going away to college.
Cons: Educational tours in Europe can be very expensive, as in many European countries food and lodging cost more than they do in the United States. Airfare to Europe can also be quite expensive, especially during the summer. If your teen is planning to visit Europe he or she will also need to acquire a passport.
Educational Tours in the United States and Canada
Although they might not seem as glamorous as European tours, educational tours in the United States and Canada still have a lot to offer in the way of cultural enrichment and hands-on learning. Many tours in the U.S. and Canada have specific educational themes. Your child could participate in a theater and drama workshop in New York City, for example, learn about wildlife management and environmental protection in Alaska, or about organic farming in the American Midwest.
Pros: Educational tours in the U.S. and Canada tend to cost less than tours in Europe and often have more specific themes, allowing your teen to focus on a subject he or she is interested in. Tours within your home country do not require your teen to obtain a passport, and domestic airfare tends to be less expensive than flying to Europe.
Cons: Teens traveling outside of their home country will still need to acquire a passport. Since most places in the United States and Canada are English-speaking, your child will not be able to have a foreign language experience.
Educational Tours in Latin America
For many teens and their families, educational tours in Latin America offer a middle ground between tours in Europe and in North America.
Pros: Latin American educational tours are offered in several counties, from Mexico to Guatemala to Argentina, and have a variety of educational themes. Food and lodging in Latin America tends to be less expensive than in Europe and can often be less expensive than in the United States and Canada as well. Your teen will be able to experience diverse cultures and will have an opportunity to speak and learn Spanish.
Cons: Airfare to Latin American countries can be expensive, and your teen will need to acquire a passport. Some Latin American countries have high crime rates and travel advisories. Check with your child’s tour company about safety measures before sending your teen on an educational tour in Latin America.