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  • Writer's pictureKiah May

Traveling the World as a Teenager

Updated: Apr 9, 2022

Many parents begin to worry when their teen says that they want to travel the world, wether it be solo or with a group of friends.

My international travel adventures (and my love of traveling) began with a spring break trip to Mexico when I was 11. While this trip was not as full of adventure as I had hoped, it was a great way to kickoff my love of travel. We swam with dolphins, went on a boat ride through the local waters, snorkeled, and visited local restaurants.

At the time I was a bit too young for anything more, but even just this little taste of adventure was enough to spark a life-long love of new things.

My next big trip wasn't anything as foreign as Mexico, but my love of adventure grew on our family trip to Southern Colorado. Along the way we visited the Royal Gorge and Garden of the Gods, which were simply fascinating. I loved learning about all the animals we have here in Colorado and the hikes at both locations were stunningly beautiful. Along the way we also visited Grade Sand Dunes National Park and had loads of fun sledding down the dunes.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

We made it to Durango where we visited Mesa Verde National Park, which was my favorite part of the trip simply due to the amazing feat of engineering and the history of the area. We also visited the Four Corners.

Mesa Verde National Park

I continued to travel and my love of adventure continued to grow. My mom and I returned to Mexico the following spring where I got my scuba certification (and saw a shiver of nurse sharks). We also continued to explore places closer to home, including hiking in Telluride and skiing in the Rocky Mountains.

It was in Costa Rica that I began to expand my traveling to include service work. On a 7th grade Spanish immersion trip, I had the opportunity to work with classmates and locals on building a cafeteria for a local school. The hard work set me on a life-long mission to better the world.

This continued when my mom invited me to come with her to a small village in Southern Uganda to help with women's health initiatives. On a hike through villages around Lake Bunyonyi in Kabale, Uganda I had the opportunity to talk with adolescent girls and after that conversation I began working on a program that educated girls about their health and provided them with hygienic supplies so that they could continue to attend school.

You can read more about my work on Women's Health here:

Kiah in Kabale doing Women's Health Work

Taking a break from service work, my dad and I set out in an attempt to deepen our knowledge of the universe and what better place to start than Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral! We continued this adventure in New York City at the American Museum of Natural History and the Rose Center for Earth and Space.

Rose Center for Earth and Space

If you want to learn about how I continue to learn about the Universe, here is my Space Nerd Checklist:

My favorite adventure so far was Iceland which you can read more about here:

Finally, my love of travel took me on my first solo international trip to the Canary Island (with GAdventures) with a stop in London on the way home! This trip taught me that I can travel by myself and I was able to learn so much about myself!

All of these adventures have fueled what I'm sure will be a life-long love of travel and need for adventure. So, as I continue to embark on my world-wide adventure here are a few tips I have for teens to help convince their parents to allow them to travel solo or with friends.

Tips for Teens:

  1. Have a detailed and well researched itinerary planned out including transport and possible hotels. It is also helpful if you will be with a tour group.

  2. Plan a budget including how much you are willing to pay and/or how much you would like your parents to chip in.

  3. Help your parents understand that even with all of the research you've done there are still unknowns that will arise. Have a plan on how you're going to deal with the curve balls. (Something is always going to go wrong so make sure you have backup plans.)

  4. Listen to their concerns. Letting their child leave and go to a foreign nation is scary, so be mindful, but also try to address their concerns.

Tips for Parents:

  1. Understand why your child wants to travel.

  2. Listen with an open mind, but ask questions.

  3. Do your research and understand that your child has done theirs.

  4. Set Expectations.

  5. Discuss back-up plans in case of emergencies.

  6. Understand that even with all of the research they've done there are still unknowns that will arise.



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