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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Teen Girls in Paris

L to R: Jazmyne, Chemere, Kamryn & Lauren…in Paris
Photo +Tracey Friley 
I took 4 girls and 1 college senior to Paris this summer (July 2014) for a 2-week travel abroad experience like no other. The parents paid some and I paid some. As is the case with The Passport Party Project, it is my way of giving back.

Kamryn (14), Jazmyne (16), Lauren (15), Chemere (14), Mary (24) & I (age unknown) lived in our very own apartment in the Le Marais. We ate escargot, croissants, and French onion soup. We explored the Catacombs and went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and Montparnasse. We shopped for our own groceries and rode the Métro to Père Lachaise. 

We traveled with heart and donated diverse children's books to Libraries Without Borders. We sang an Al Greene song out loud in a Paris boutique and sat on the grass at both Versailles and Parc des Buttes Chaumont. We walked and laughed in the rain. We tried new things and made new friends. The girls learned their way around Paris on their own with a map and a gentle nudge from me. They took a photo with a French model. 

Seeds were planted. Lives were changed. Lightbulbs went on. It was a great trip. They are great girls. And I am just grateful that I was there. =)

Here is a photo essay of our trip in 20 photos (in no particular order)…

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 12, 2014
Wonder in Paris ~ at Notre-Dame De Paris
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 10, 2014
This is THEIR trip, not mine; so they are planning their own 
#Paris itinerary
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 10, 2014
Kamryn eats her first escargot; while next to her, Chemere has her first French onion soup.  
They were both smitten.
Photo +Tracey Friley

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 11, 2014
It's Friday night, so after a late dinner we explored the cobblestone streets of Paris
. This was at about 10:15pm.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 11, 2014
After strolling the Champs Élysées today, we came back to our apartment and everyone made their own flower crowns as a fun craft project. If the sun is out tomorrow, the girls say they want to wear them out. We'll go out to dinner in a few hours.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 17, 2014
One of the stops on our 10-mile Night Bike Tour that started at 7pm and ended at close to midnight and included a boat ride along the River Seine. Long day. Hot day. Fun day. Pooped.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 17, 2014
Random cool photo on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois.
Photo +Tracey Friley
TRACEY'S NOTES from July 14,  2014 ~ BASTILLE DAY
Some of the girls are watching the Bastille Day parade on the television right now; but before we turned it on, we got our own show of military planes in the sky.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 16, 2014
Domaine de Marie-Antoinette, Versailles.
Photo +Tracey Friley

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 18, 2014
Their first fashion show in Paris
. Hoping it's not their last. With the exception of one young lady who isn't into fashion (which is just fine), They. Were. Ecstatic.
Photo +Tracey Friley

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 16, 2014
It was hot. At least 100 degrees. And we were at Versailles 
walking from the chateau to the Petit Trianon on a dirt road between manicured hedges; the sun blazing. The girls were ahead of me. And then I saw a small opening to my left. It was a gate. So I pushed it open and called the girls back. We were in another world entirely. I had no idea if it was okay to be there, so we were quiet as we walked through the shaded woods. Is that a rabbit? And then it was time to go, so we left out of the same gate we crept into.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from Paris Trip, July 2014
14 year old Chemere led our group on this day and figured it all out with no help from me.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from Paris, July 2014
16 year old Jazmyne wants to be a professional photographer, so I encouraged her to check out any photography studios she might see on our walks in Paris
. She's a thinker. I like that. And I really love this photo.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 13, 2014
We pack our lunch every day since we're always out & about. Today was no exception. It is a unique experience to have lunch at a cemetery in Paris, n'est-ce pas? But, alas, life is MADE for unique experiences.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 20,  2014
Today we went back to the Marché! Flowers, food & personal shopping. Headed back out. There's more to buy, more to see! *twirling*
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 19, 2014
Explorers. The plans we had when we left the apartment this morning went up in smoke. Instead, we let Paris speak to us.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 18, 2014
We got to sleep in this morning. It was much needed, as we've been some busy bees here in Paris
. Walked by Lauren & Jazmyne's room and saw Lauren in the window reading. I thought it was a darling sight. 30 minutes later, she was back in bed fast asleep. We're all up now. Getting ready to go to a 30-minute fashion show at Galeries Lafayette and then see what else Paris has to offer today and into the night.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 22, 2014
On their 13th day in Paris
 and after numerous interactions with the Iron Lady from below, the girls finally made it to the tippy top of the Eiffel Tower today.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

Versailles selfie.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

TRACEY'S NOTES from July 20, 2014
One of the main tenets of The Passport Party Project (and any teen trips I curate) is to give a little something to the local community wherever we travel. The idea is to travel with heart. On this trip to Paris, the girls all brought children's books to donate to Libraries Without Borders
. Great job, ladies. Great job.
Photo +Tracey Friley 

I believe in the power of the passport. Do you believe?

Founder & Executive Director
The Passport Party Project

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Submissions are open for Phase 2: Apply Today!

Monday, June 30, 2014

#PassportPartyProject Photo-A-Day Challenge!

Share your favorite travel photos
across your favorite social media channels
in support of the #powerofthepassport & The #PassportPartyProject!

July 1 - 31, 2014

Don't forget to use the #PassportPartyProject hashtag!

You can click on the image to make it larger. =)

Day 9 says: Yes, Chef!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Villa Caloukaera: Our HomeAway from Home … in the French Islands of Guadeloupe

Pictured above: Saint-François Lagoon, Grand-Terre, Guadeloupe Islands

He who returns from a journey
is not the same as he who left.

If you haven't been following The Passport Party Project on its Phase 2 journey so far, then you don't know that 10 American teen girls are going to the Guadeloupe Islands next June to get their very first passport stamps and to experience the French culture, environment and people of Guadeloupe. They will not be the same when they return to the United States. Of that, I am 100% certain. Submissions for the 10 coveted spots opens August 15, 2014.

If you haven't been following along on our journey so far, you also don't know that these same 10 girls will shack up in their very own home away from home sponsored by HomeAway, the world's number one source for vacation rentals with one million listings. #1MilWaysToStay

But, hey. Now you know. ;-)

Of course, as the Pied Piper of Passports (haha), I'm going too, along with Advisory Board Member, photographer and travel writer Lebawit Lily Girma, and my college staff Mary Mitchell, who is an American Red Cross certified lifeguard and who has traveled with me on teen trips to waterfront destinations before. There will be 13 of us females in total. And before you ask, yes, there are 6 toilets. Hey, it matters. #IJS


Our HomeAway from home villa is located on Guadeloupe's main island of Grand-Terre, in the commune of Saint-François, which is on the south-east point of the Gwada butterfly

It doesn't hurt that Saint-François is often compared to the Cote d’Azur in the South of France with its stunning location that combines the tropical Caribbean setting with French style and flair. Stroll along the bistro lined streets, go shopping at the markets for fresh fruits and vegetables, dine and shop at the beautiful marina on the calm turquoise lagoon, spend a day playing golf at the international golf course or enjoy its spectacular white sand beaches. #lesigh

Villa Caloukaera: Our HomeAway from Home

And here, mes amis, are the photos, courtesy of HomeAway and Villa Caloukaera:

That is a parental unit attached to the back of the house.
Guess who is staying there? #PiedPiperofPassports

For more images (of the inside) and to check out the entire listing, please click here.

And hey, why not buy a virtual (or real!) airplane ticket and join us? HomeAway has plenty of rentals to choose from. And besides, you won't be the same once you get back. Promise. ;-)

Saturday, June 21, 2014


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November 17 - 21, 2014

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Teen Travel Summit & Extravaganza Weekend

At about the halfway point of Phase 1 of The Passport Party Project, I started thinking about all of the emails flooding my inbox from parents...about their daughters that weren't getting their first passports or participating in global awareness parties or getting awarded with trips to Belize, and I got a bright idea. (That can be dangerous…LOL)

When I think back, my bright idea was also inspired by how much physical movement was in my life at the time and how much I was looking forward to being still, in spite of how much I enjoy moving about. 

I was writing for an American Airlines Web site and getting paid in airline tickets, so I was traveling internationally non-stop. #punintended 

I was traveling around the nation gifting girls with their very first passports, so I was traveling domestically non-stop. 

I was going to conferences, press trips, personal trips, winning awards, and changing my own life in the process.

Travel, travel, travel. I talk it, live it, breathe it, teach it. It is a lifestyle choice. It changes lives. But my non-stop life needed to stop. At least for a few months….

When I finally found myself re-rooted in January - after the trip to Cabo, in between the trip to D.C. and after 3 years of playing the pied piper of passports - I started thinking about how much more I had to learn about Oakland, the place I left Los Angeles for, and the place I now call home. The place I have lived since 1999. The place that is so culturally diverse that I don't know where else I could live and be as comfortable. The place that [insert bright idea here] resembles the world we live in. You could basically travel around the world without leaving Oakland, I thought. 

Hey. Wait a minute…

An off-shoot of The Passport Party Project, Teen Travel Summit & Extravaganza Weekend is a two-day travel-ganza for a small group of local teens (girls AND boys) ready to travel and explore the world and its cultures without leaving their own backyards in a fun and educational way. Think: An Amazing Global Scavenger Hunt Race for teens. 

And then guess what happened?

Visit Oakland and I talked about how we could empower local youth via some local Oakland travel fun and they immediately hopped on as a sponsor.

And so. On a date to be determined in the second quarter of 2015, but before the 10 girls from Phase 2 go to the Guadeloupe Islands to get their first passport stamps, the first Teen Travel Summit & Extravaganza Weekend will go down…in Oakland, California.
I think that's worth a hearty round of applause, don't you?

*Clapping wildly*

Full details are coming soon.

TTSE might be in a city near you sooner than you think!
What city do YOU live in?