When I look at my high school and college years, I see my biggest mistake… Why did I wait so long to do my “meaningful travel?”
Engage in “Meaningful Travel”
“Meaningful travel” is travel in your country or abroad that enriches your mind and heart. So many people take a vacation to Walt Disney World, or Las Vegas or even Ocho Rios in Jamaica. But do these fun time vacations ever enrich your mind? Did they ever imprint a foreign culture into your life? Do you learn things that change your life? How many vacations opened your heart to poverty or injustice? Did you learn a foreign language there? If you answer these questions with “Yes!”, then you’ve engaged in “meaningful travel.”
So, Can This Kind of Travel Not Imitate A Pitbull Song?
Read this disclaimer! “Meaningful travel” isn’t imitating Pitbull’s title of “Mr. Worldwide” on your vacation. “Meaningful travel” would never mean creating another male or female version of “Mr. Worldwide.” I am not responsible for occasions when vacationing individuals act irresponsibly. I only promote moral and responsible travel. Get the point?
Now, prepare to engage in travel which tugs at your heart and soul.
What Are Some Examples of “Meaningful Travel”?
How does one find “meaningful travel”? Take a look at these examples.
Study Abroad Programs
Take a look at these exceptional programs: Rollins College’s Semester Study Abroad Programs and the University of Florida’s Merida Study Abroad Program. My first study abroad experience was in Merida, Mexico.
Do your research and find a trip that excites you. That way, you’ll love studying abroad and earn valuable college credits!
Service Learning Trips
Where Do I Look for Good Service Learning Trips?
You can find churches, synagogues, and other places of worship with exceptional service-learning trips. Many universities have programs, like an alternative Spring Break, where you can travel and help the less fortunate. Some high school groups offer them as well. The Catholic Diocese of Orlando’s Mission Trip to San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic will give you an unforgettable experience serving others, just as it did for me. Perhaps you are a teen helping disabled people with home repairs in Gap Mills, West Virginia with Evergreen Ministries (EGM).
The best part of service learning opportunities is that there’s something for everyone. You might travel with a surgical team as a doctor, or you may repair homes as a teen who’s never held a hammer before. Each trip comes with guides who’ll teach you everything you need to know. The only thing they need is willing volunteers.
Now, Let’s Talk About Money
Many sources exist for funding a study abroad or service learning trip. Universities provide student loans, scholarships and other means for studying abroad. They understand that you are making an important investment. Sit down with your financial aid counselor or program director about the options. Even a low-interest student loan can open up an incredible study abroad experience. Remember, though, if you do consider a student loan, consult with your financial aid office before taking any loans, and only do so after you’ve checked for travel funding that doesn’t create debt.
Most service-learning trips are very affordable. Why? Because institutions or people will help fund part or all of your trip’s cost. In return for this assistance, you often help with fundraising for the area you visited. Think about it for a minute like a parent. If your son or daughter wanted to help less fortunate people, you’d find a way to make it happen, right? Likewise, many people feel that way about young people wanting to serve abroad. As a result, they contribute money to help young adult and teenage volunteers. In addition, places of worship often pay some or most costs for willing volunteers. So, don’t hesitate and please ask your pastor, religious leader or civic organization for financial assistance.
Start Your “Meaningful Travel” Experience Today
Studying abroad and service learning trips will enrich your soul in so many ways. Don’t wait as I did to enter graduate school before going on a life-changing trip. Our world calls you to engage in “meaningful travel” now, while you are young and free. Fill your life with meaningful travels, just like me!