Although we are unable to remember the first moment of opening our eyes as newborns, we can come close to reliving that moment by traveling. There is infinite curiosity and genuine appreciation for the new setting and the things in it. However, there is also a sense of vulnerability of being a guest. This year I had the pleasure of traveling internationally twice. This isn’t bad for a girl who once believed that life simply could not exist outside the U.S.
My first trip was back in March. It was an internship with my school and we spent a week in The Netherlands. It was the best week of my life! We did so much in a limited amount of time, and the experience was unforgettable.
For my second trip, I went to Guyana, which is in South America near Venezuela. This was the complete opposite of my first excursion because it was a mission’s trip. We spent five days in Guyana and once again, my experience was life changing.
In preparation for my first trip, I, of course, had to get a passport. This process was less intimidating than I anticipated. I went to the U.S Department of State building, then printed and completed the online paperwork (travel.state.gov). I also brought my driver’s license, a money order (they do not take cash or card) and my birth certificate.
They retain your original birth certificate for verification purposes; however, you will receive your birth certificate back in the mail before receiving your passport. It takes about three months to be processed, which is the standard. One last tip: when signing your passport; use a regular black or blue ballpoint pen, no gel pens.
To acquire the funds needed to travel, save a little as you go, and work more often than normal. When you receive a paycheck, remove a portion to save for your trip. Scholarships are another good way to fund your trip. Since my trip was with my school, I received a scholarship that significantly reduced the final amount. There are tons of scholarships and organizations eager to give money to qualified individuals.
However, most people, I included, can be lazy and neglect this very helpful resource, by simply not putting forth the effort to achieve a specific GPA or writing an essay.
Go Fund Me is another great resource for fundraising. I hate fundraising and the whole idea of harassing people for money, but Gofundme.com provides an indirect approach while publishing your message across various social media outlets. People can easily donate their money via web; however, the site takes out a portion for each contribution.
Now that you have the money, it is time to plan your trip accordingly. Since I have only been on two international trips so far and both with large groups that scheduled the itinerary, I would recommend that you either do the same or hire a travel agent.
Whenever you choose to embark on your first international exploit, pack light; take one carry-on and a personal item. You are about to experience a new adventure; you do not want to be held down by baggage. The best part about traveling while you are young: you are only responsible for yourself.