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Our Type of Traveler: Tracey Friley

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 10 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 because I would like to experience, explore and see different parts of the world and then be able to share and talk about it to others."

Crystal, age 14 / PPP Teen Ambassador, Phase 2
PPP Teen Mentor: Karla Aguilar Perez

"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

"I want to travel because I want to explore different cultures and trades. I want to go where it is not familiar [to] me and I am [having] new experiences."

Elyce, age 14 / PPP Teen Ambassador, Phase 2
PPP Teen Mentor: Angela Myers

"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

"My new friends at my new school travel everywhere, all of the time. I am at the school on financial aid. My mom is always looking for a way that we don't have to let our finances dictate our outcomes. They talk about visiting Scotland, Dubai, etc. over the summer, and I can only listen and dream. My mom said dreaming is important, but one day I want to be able to talk about where I went, what I experienced and what it was like. I want to join the world-citizen conversation."

Maggie, age 14 / PPP Teen Ambassador, Phase 2
Teen Mentor: Shannon Lynberg

"Culture, language, history and beauty is what is found when you travel. If you don't travel you miss out on the opportunity to encounter new experiences and gain new perspectives."

Marilu, age 17 / PPP Lead Teen Ambassador
PPP Teen Mentor: Tracey Friley


Friday, October 3, 2014

Dreaming With HomeAway

Virgin Gorda Villa via HomeAway
I'm going on another dreamy sailing bareboat charter in the BVIs with The Moorings in April and was looking at HomeAway for a place to stay for a few days before my fella and I hit the sea. After perusing obsessing about the British Virgin Islands property pictured above, I decided to ask some of the Advisory Board Members and Ambassadors from The Passport Party Project to pick their dream vacation rental from HomeAway, housing sponsors for the Phase 2 Teen Villa in France's Caribbean Guadeloupe Islands next June (2015). Just for fun. And just because we all have travel dreams, right? 


Oh. And keep dreaming. You know what they say… #dreamsDOcometrue

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one…

~John Lennon

Les Saintes Villa via HomeAway
"Les Saintes is one of my absolute favorite parts of the Guadeloupe Islands. It's as close as it gets to paradise -- an archipelago just 20 minutes way by ferry from Basse-Terre. The infinite views of rolling bluffs and of the Saintes Bay, the French cafes in town dotting cobblestoned streets and the near-deserted white sand beaches -- I'd go back any day and the dream would be to stay at this HomeAway villa."
~Lebawit Lily GirmaAdvisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

House "Sun Hill" Kizimkazi via HomeAway
"I selected the beautiful Sun Hill house on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania as my dream property. It's not the largest property in the area but its proximity to white sand beaches, and views of sunsets and the moon make this the perfect location for some me time." 
~Deanna Lewis, Ambassador
Passport Party Project / Phase 2

El Rincón del Sella via HomeAway
"Ribadesella is a really lovely rural village in northern Spain that I had the chance to stop in for one night earlier this year. It's close to the beach and the mountains and I would love to go back again and stay much, much longer."
~Amanda Ponzio Mouttaki, Advisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Monteroni d'Arbia Villa via HomeAway

"I selected the beautiful Monteroni D'Arbia Villa, located in Borgo Santo Pietro, Italy, close to Florence and Sienna, as my dream vacation rental! Its decor, lush landscape, swimming pool and modern amenities are a dream come true! This Villa is absolutely heaven on Earth!"
~Gwendolyn Santiago, Ambassador
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Beyoglu Apartment Rental via HomeAway

"An apartment in Istanbul's Beyoglu district. Ever since I was in college I have dreamed of visiting Istanbul. This beautifully decorated apartment with breathtaking views of the Bosphorus would be the prefect place for a vacation exploring this gorgeous city!"
~Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, Advisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Maldives Villa Rental via HomeAway
"The Maldives is my dream vacation. The view alone looks like heaven! I instantly fell in love just looking at the photos!"
~Marcella James, Ambassador
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Ubud Villa Rental via HomeAway
"Here is where I would love to go in Bali, Indonesia. Somewhere with ocean surrounding me and fresh, warm air. Never been there yet but it looks amazingly dreamy and inspiring."
~Nicole Melancon, Advisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Placerville House Rental via HomeAway
"I like this cute little house in Placerville, CA because the views are amazing! It looks homey and welcoming. I could see staying a few days at this place."
~Shay Olivarria, Ambassador
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Lago Ranco Chateau via HomeAway
"Lately, I've realized that my travel style is evolving in that I'm craving travel to destinations where nature, in all of its splendid glory, takes centerstage. That's exactly why this Patagonian lake house in Chile is calling my name!"
~Dana Bell, Advisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Palmermo Soho House via HomeAway
"Buenos Aires is one of my favourite cities in the world: classy and glamorous and sexy all at once. It's fitting, then, that I would choose a property that embodies everything I love about BsAs!"
~Oneika Raymond, Advisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Banyuls-sur-Mer Villa via HomeAway

"Banyuls-sur-Mer is a lovely part of France that I've visited last year and I long to go back again. I loved the area! The views and the beach are stunning. This is one of my favorite places in the world."
~Dori Peaple, Advisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Anguilla Villa via HomeAway
"I love Anguilla. All of the beaches are public and they are absolutely awesome. Staying at this luxury villa would make my next stay in Anguilla absolutely Heavenly!"
~Renée Ross, Advisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Villa Turquoise via HomeAway
"This property is in Zanzibar, Tanzania and right on the beach which is the perfect combination of a vacation for me. The rental is heavenly with its pristine views and impeccable furniture, simply divine."
~Roni Faida, Advisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

Turin City Studio via HomeAway
"This apartment with a splendid view of Turin, Italy is exactly what I am looking for and would love to visit. It would be the right place to start exploring the city and the surrounding areas in Piedmont."
~Karla Aguilar Perez, Advisory Board Member
The Passport Party Project / Phase 2

* * *

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite,
and you do not know what it will bring back,
a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” 

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