As our own children transition from infants to kids to teens, we are becoming more and more interested in the teen perspective on travel. What are the best ways to prepare for a trip and what kinds of experiences are most memorable? A great example of a teen trip well taken is our friend Fiona’s recent adventure in South Africa. Fiona is 13 and, while she was traveling, she wrote a fabulous blog about her adventures. We enjoyed reading all about her trip so, when we caught up with her over the holidays, we asked her some questions about her trip, about how much she had prepared, and about what she learned and enjoyed most.
What did you know or think about South Africa before you went? I was expecting there to be no big cities, and not many people. I was expecting our trip to be all a big safari.
What did you do to prepare for the trip? I knew that I would be talking to a class room in South Africa about what it was like to live in America, so before we left, I wrote down a few things about my life and what it’s like to live in America. In preparation for the rest of our trip we talked to some friends of ours who had lived in South Africa for nine months and they gave us advice on places to go and things to see.
Why did you decide to write a blog about your trip? One of my teachers had asked me if I was making a journal for my trip. She said it would be useful and fun to record the interesting details of my trip so that I could remember them later. Another friend suggested that I use a blog so that I could also post pictures and share the events of my trip with my friends and family back in America.
What were your three most unusual experiences? The most unusual experiences I had were talking to 2 high school classes in South Africa about what it was like to live in America. Also, hearing and seeing a lion roar, driving through the very poor townships, and taking a cable car up Table Mountain was very unusual.
What was most different in South Africa as compared to your home? One of the most different things from America was that there were animals everywhere! We saw families of monkeys and baboons on the side of the road. Once we even saw a group of zebras walking near the highway. There were also whales and thousands of penguins at some beaches.
What advice would you give other teens on preparing for a trip to South Africa? I would recommend bringing a camera (and extra batteries!) with you everywhere you go! You never know when something picture worthy will happen. I took A LOT more photos than I had anticipated, so it was very useful to download all the photos I’d taken onto our laptop every day. This allowed us to clear up memory on our camera and backup our photos just in case our camera was stolen.
You can read more and see even more great pictures at Fiona’s blog: http://fionassouthafricatrip.blogspot.com/