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Less than 40% of Americans have a passport! What about you?

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PPP Phase 2 Teen Ambassadors

Passport Party Project Phase 2 Teen Ambassadors

Volunteer Mentors Make All The Difference

The Passport Party Project relies on volunteers to help foster the travel dreams.

As seen on

Our Type of Traveler: Tracey Friley

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Happy PassportParty-A-Versary to The Passport Party Project! #twirl

Photo: June 3, 2011
Four years ago today, 8 girls got their very first passports from what is now The Passport Party Project.

To every sponsor, advocate, ambassador, volunteer, parent, believer, traveler, and monetary gift giver,
a very special Thank You from way down deep.
And we've got a long way to go. #twirl

Cheers to many more years of teen girls with first passports...

Cheers to many more years of new global citizens...

Photo via Ambergris Today, Belize, Central America

Cheers to being a small part of giving American teen girls a world view...

 And cheers to the #powerofthepassport!

On stage at NatGeo Live!
Photo Credit: Tricia Cronin for National Geographic Traveler Magazine

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Meet Jazmyne: Lead Teen Travel Ambassador

As seen on Facebook
97 likes and counting...
[As of 31 May 2015]

This is Jazmyne. She's graduating from high school today. ��

When Jazmyne was 12, she went with me to St. John in the US Virgin Islands for CampCaribe, my former travel adventure camp for tween girls. 

And because you don't need a #passport to enter the #usvirginislands, Jazmyne got her first passport during Phase 1 of The #PassportPartyProject & ultimately won a spot (on her own merits) on the trip to #Belize#CentralAmerica where she got her first passport stamp. 

In fact, she was photographed with me for a @natgeotravel magazine story about The PPP shortly after we got back. 

Last summer, Jazmyne was one of four teen girls on my private teen adventure to #Paris and in July, she will go to #Toronto #Canada for Phase 2 of The PPP as a Lead Teen #Travel Ambassador where she will work for me & serve as an example to the other girls. 

I think she's earned it, don't you? 

Cheers to Jazmyne on this special day, and cheers to the #powerofthepassport#travelrocks

Monday, May 18, 2015

Terrified of Traveling

I lost another Teen Travel Ambassador this morning. She won't be going to Toronto with us in July. Her mentor sent me a note telling me she's too anxious. My volunteer's heart is broken. 

Truth is, I saw it coming. And I warned her.  "I wanted you to be wrong," she said. "I wanted to be wrong too," I told her. 

But this is all a part of the work we do helping girls get on the road to global citizenship. And as sorry as I am to say this, I'm used to the disappointment, the parental fear, the lack of trust. But as used to it as I say I am, her comments and her heartfelt disappointment made me cry. 

And then I wiped my eyes and thought about the girls who are still going. The ones who are likely afraid, but going anyway. Because there are 8 anxious girls (whose parents are likely anxious too) who are going to go on their first international adventure with their very first passports to Toronto in July in spite of their fear. And yes, the fear is real.

This is a short essay from Taylor, one of Phase 2's Teen Travel Ambassadors. Taylor's travel mentor wasn't 100% sure this was appropriate for The Passport Party Project blog. And I totally get it. But I think it's perfect. And timely.

It's called Terrified of Traveling:

When I think of traveling, I think of a plane. I think of a plane in the sky traveling to another state or country. When I think of me traveling, I think of a plane falling, a train derailing, a car crashing, or a boat sinking. I watch so much television that I have seen a lot of bad outcomes of traveling. I have heard some good outcomes, but the bad always outweigh the good. Now I have been on a plane before and it never fell, there were no incidents, but I was so jumpy the whole time. I rarely got out of my seat, not even to use the restroom. I tried to hold it in as long as I could. When I'm in a car, I look around to make sure that each car is in its own lane. I really shouldn't blame not being able to travel on being underserved. I should blame it on being scared to do so. I should always think about the good outcomes of anything because without bad outcomes, good outcomes could never come.

She's not alone, of course. There are many people afraid to travel. Afraid of life even.

So I ask you; all of you frequent travelers and self-proclaimed wanderlusts who might have forgotten what it feels like to be afraid to travel; who take plane rides and passports for granted; who have no idea what a young girl goes through before she takes her first international plane ride. What would you tell Taylor or any other teen girl about to change her life without her knowledge? How would you help her manage her fear?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The House That HomeAway Got

Passport Party Project housing sponsor HomeAway stepped up to the plate and secured a lovely home in Downtown Toronto that I selected for the Phase 2 girls...even after we had to cancel our trip to the Caribbean (another story entirely). I'd call that a home run. =)

You should totally take a look inside our 3500 square foot 5 bedroom 4 bathroom home away from home that we will occupy for a week this summer. It's the house that HomeAway got. ;-) 

#excitingtimesahead #sponsoredpost

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

11 (Really Good) Reasons Teens Should Travel Abroad and Embrace The ‪#‎PowerOfThePassport‬

^^^ Teen Trip to Paris, July 2014 ^^^

It probably goes without saying, but I believe in the #powerofthepassport and the growth that travel brings about. 

I believe that when a young person who dreams of travel gets a passport with no specific destination or travel plan in mind, that it is a rite of passage akin to getting a global permission slip. 

I believe that getting a passport should happen early, and that it's never too late.

I believe that getting that first international passport stamp sets the stage for that teen's future if s/he wants it to.

I also believe that a lack of disposable income isn't a good enough reason not to travel when youth travel scholarships, grants and study abroad opportunities abound.

And I believe in giving back to the local community in some small way while being a responsible traveler. #travelwithheart

The bottom line?

I believe that teens should travel abroad.
I believe in the #powerofthepassport.

And while nothing takes the place of family travel, tw/eens should travel without their parents as well. Yep. Without. Their. Parents. And their parents should let them go, too. To volunteer, to study, or to simply soak in what international travel has to offer. Because -- believe it or not -- travel changes everything.

But don't just take my word for it. Here is what some of my travel colleagues think about teen travel abroad and why it is so important.  

Teens should travel abroad because the world becomes a less scary place. The longer we isolate ourselves in a vacuum, the more we begin to fear the unknown. I moved from Nigeria when I was 15 years old to start college in the US. I was scared and didn't know what to expect. But gratefully, I come from a family which appreciates and values travel, so I was exposed to various countries while growing up. Yes, the world will never be 100% safe, but traveling and seeing more of it starting at a younger age will help teenagers develop an open mind with respect to other cultures, and start seeing themselves as part of the solution to a safer, more inclusive world.

Teens should travel abroad because tomorrow's leaders need a global perspective and traveling outside of insular, self-centered America is the only way to do it. Come to Holland and see how thousands of kilometers of bike lanes make a difference in the obesity rate of the population, or how a system of dikes and levies keeps a country that is mostly below sea level above water. Go to Scandinavia and see how family leave—the practice that allows both the mother and the father several months leave from work when a child is born—benefits the society as a whole. These are just a few of the many examples that one will see when they travel the world.

Teens should travel abroad because travel is one of the best ways to extend learning outside the classroom. Travel creates opportunities to better understand people around the world and their cultures through history, traditions, customs, and foods. The world is our classroom and travel is our opportunity to raise a new generation of kids who will better understand global issues.

St. John, US Virgin Islands #teentravel

4. Ana Serafin

Teens should travel abroad because it allows them to break barriers and helps them grow spiritually and mentally. Traveling at a young age challenged me to be open about other cultures and religions and to appreciate the little that I have. This challenge helped me grow and accept change and differences from myself and others, which not many can easily do. Now, as an adult, travel has taught me to explore new frontiers in my personal and professional life that I would have never imagined if I hadn't traveled when I was young. The experience of travel is one that no one can take away from you and these memories will last a lifetime.

Teens should travel abroad because it makes for a "well-rounded" student in the eyes of College Admissions Directors. It shows that the teen has a thirst for learning and is comfortable in unfamiliar settings. The fact that an applicant has traveled abroad shows that the student is independent and forward-thinking. They may also be willing to take advantage of the Study Abroad programs that many colleges offer.

Teens should travel abroad because the time to start opening your mind to new people, cultures, lands, experiences, friends, foods and adventures is when you are still young enough to go, but old enough to appreciate it. As a teen, you're not a child anymore and you know the world is bigger than just the corner you live on. You KNOW that in your mind, but you haven't tasted it, smelled it, felt it or seen it first hand. If you travel abroad, you may occasionally feel a little lonely or vulnerable or frustrated, but the next thing you know, you'll be laughing with someone whose language you barely understand, or tasting the most delicious food that you can't pronounce, or dancing to a rhythm of music you've never heard on your iPod before...and you'll forget those brief uncomfortable moments ever existed.

Belize, Central America
#PassportPartyProject #Phase1

Teens should travel abroad because it changes everything. I was in high school and loved math and science, but my history and geography classes were like ancient torture chambers, with boring facts coupled with dry accounts of long-past events. But at 19, when I visited Europe for the first time, I was mesmerized by the past. How could I stand in front of centuries-old ruins and not see ancient history more deeply? How could I stand in Shakespeare's birth home and not wonder about the motivation behind his plays? In the years that have passed since that trip, I've visited dozens of countries on five continents but I still feel the same sense of awe and wonder about the world that I did at 19.

Walking the streets where significant historical events once took place brings new life to geography, politics, and religion. Art and architecture seem more beautiful when experienced in the environment for which they were designed. And languages seem to make more sense when spoken in a real way to real people. But more important than deepening our understanding of cultural customs and historical events, travel proves that we are global citizens, different from—yet so similar to—the 6 billion others with whom we share this earth.

Teens should travel abroad because to provide a teenager the gift of travel is to give them an opportunity to form their own opinions not only about the world and others, but also about themselves as individuals, before anyone tries to shape it for them. It arms them with a sense of responsibility and accountability, something which helps shape them to become not only better adults, but also better citizens of the world. The impact that travel has had on my own teenager has helped to open up his mind and ground him in ways I could have never done by staying home. 

Teens should travel abroad because it opens their eyes to the human experience outside of what they see on a daily basis. So many Americans take things for granted that others have to struggle for abroad. In my first assignment with Doctors Without Borders, I was taken aback to learn that when people are admitted to the hospital in Kenya, they need a caregiver to stay with them. The hospital does not provide food, laundry services or bedside services. That's just one of the thousands of things I've learned while traveling abroad and the sooner one gets out there and experiences that, the more well rounded and globally aware they are! The #powerofthepassport is vital in today's burgeoning generation.

Photo Credit @CarolACain

Teens should travel abroad because doing so will open their eyes to the possibilities for their lives. They'll likely discover that their home countries don't necessarily offer the paradigm of what life should be like. They'll also hopefully discover that their lives are not meant to be lived in a box and that the possibilities for every facet of their lives are limitless. Ultimately, traveling abroad has the potential to help teens discover or at least start thinking about their life's purpose, why they are here, and how they can use the newfound perspective that traveling abroad brings and their unique talents and gifts to make a difference in this world.

Teens should travel abroad because travel helps foster independence and exposes us to other ways of life in a more three-dimensional sense. It's a way to not only discover and learn about new destinations, people, languages, religions, cuisines, history, and more, but it also allows us to discover something new about ourselves. As a teenager, you begin that journey of coming into your own and, as you allow yourself to be exposed to a range of different inputs, you gain a broader sense of your place in the world.


So there you have it.  Close to a dozen good reasons you should Let. Them. Go. 

Can you think of any others? Please -- share your views and personal experiences on why teens should travel abroad in the comments section below along with your Twitter handle and be on the look-out for a RT as we continue to ramp up with Phase 2!

"Thank you for including my daughter in this travel adventure, Tracey. It was truly worth the sacrifice of income to make it happen. It is so important that our children have an opportunity to see areas, cultures, and environments other than what is right in their own neighborhoods. My daughter truly enjoyed herself. Words can't even begin to describe the excitement." -- Angela, Maryland

HomeAway is providing housing accommodations for the girls of Phase 2. Want to help?

You can help the 10 girls of Phase 2 get their first passport stamps by giving the gift of travel here. Big or small. It doesn't really matter. But the truth is that we could use your help. Thank you for giving it some thought.

Teen Travel Abroad Tips from Andrew Gordon of Diversity Abroad:
  • Teens have a variety of opportunities to travel abroad to study, volunteer and learn foreign languages.
  • Starting in middle school (7th or 8th grade) parents should be researching opportunities for their children to go abroad.
  • Most high school programs are during the summer, and knowledge of the language of the host country is rarely a requirement.
  • Many graduating high school students are choosing to pursue a GAP Year abroad in lieu of college right after high school. This has been a norm for Australian teens for years and it's beginning to catch on with American students, too.
  • Regardless of the program, teen programs abroad can help students stand out among their peers as they prepare to apply for college.
  • Parents need to be informed about the benefits of their children pursing teen abroad programs. Then parents need to research and learn about the different program types and work with their kids to determine which program and location works best.
  • Start saving and get family and friends involved in supporting, financially or otherwise.

A version of this blog post was originally published on
American Airlines on November 27, 2012

Friday, January 30, 2015

Phase 2 of The Passport Party Project is Underway!

Have you met the Teen Travel Ambassadors
that make-up Phase 2 of The Passport Party Project? =)

Welp. Here they are! #twirling
And with their PPP Teen Mentors too! #doubletwirl

"To have a passport would open up so many options to me. First of all, I would be the first person in my immediate family who owns a passport. Furthermore, I would have the ability to travel to different countries.
Although a passport is li
ttle in size, it would mean a big thing to me; it would change my whole mentality." 

Jasmine, age 14 / PPP Teen Ambassador, Phase 2

PPP Teen Mentor: Barbara Eubanks

"I would like to travel to Paris because I think it is a unique country. I like the way the French speak. I always wanted to visit the Eiffel Tower. Paris is just so different from any other place I have ever visited. At least that is what I see in the images."

Unyce, age 11.5 / PPP Teen Ambassador, Phase 2
PPP Teen Mentor: Carille Guthrie

"Having a passport will change my life because it will allow me the freedom to be able to travel anywhere I want to go. Going to new places, meeting new people, trying new foods, and learning all along the way is priceless."
Alexis, age 13 / PPP Teen Ambassador, Phase 2
PPP Teen Mentor: Amanda Ponzio Mouttaki

"Having a passport will change my life because I will be able to go anywhere that I want to. It will give me confidence that I can travel anywhere in the world and it would be special to me because I would be the first person in my family to have one. Once I have my passport, I would want to help my family get one also."

Corinne, age 12 / PPP Teen Ambassador, Phase 2
PPP Teen Mentor: Dana Bell

"Having a passport would change my life because it will enable me to go places that I wasn't able to go before. It would help me to learn and try new things."

Taylor, age 12 / PPP Teen Ambassador, Phase 2
PPP Teen Mentor: Renée J. Ross

"I feel as if traveling while you're young is the gateway to going on bigger adventures and doing greater things."

Jordan, age 14 / PPP Teen Ambassador, Phase 2
PPP Teen Mentor: Chelle Roberts

[UPDATE with 3 more girls coming soon.]