Trip of a Lifetime Blog

Trip of a Lifetime is a 501(c)3 not-profit organization that empowers underprivileged high school students through summer travel experiences. Follow this blog for a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of our organization
Posts tagged travel

Trip Kickoff Celebration Recap

This post is by Monica Duque, one of our earliest trip recipients (Summer 2010). Monica is currently attending the University of Buffalo and is a Trip of a Lifetime intern. 

 Back in the Summer of 2010, I was sent of a trip that changed my life. Trip of a Lifetime gave me the opportunity to travel the West Coast at no expense. Once my trip was over, I soon became what is known as an alumnus. Before June 14, 2014 I never met the man who gave me this once in a lifetime opportunity. It took four years to finally meet him. Today, June 14, 2014 is the first time I met Stan Rosenberg, the founder of Trip of a Lifetime. It was also the first time I attended a Trip Kick-off event.

I was anxious before the event began because this was my first TOAL event. Four years ago it was much different. 2010 was the second year TOAL sent new students to travel the West Coast. Our “Trip Kick-off” was meeting one on one somewhere local. The organization was just starting to grow. It was amazing to sit in that room, look around how much the organization has increased over the last four years. It was great to see the new students, parents, alumni, and interns. The feeling was unbelievable.

What made the event magnificent was seeing how each individual got along. You could hear the laughter all over the room, you could feel nothing but excitement all around, and what made everyone get along was our experience. We all shared the same journey at different times. We know how each of us felt when we got that call saying we were accepted, we know the pre-trip feeling, and we know what it feels like to be greatful for such a great opportunity. I walked out of that event feeling like those people were my family. Eventhough I only got to spend three hours with them. That is a feeling I can’t explain until you experience it. 


Where Are They Now? - Monica Duque

Catching Up With Trip of a Lifetime Alumni

Monica Duque was a freshman at New Rochelle High School when an essay won her a summer 2010 Trip of a Lifetime adventure. After traveling throughout the American West with 43 other campers and 6 counselors, Monica wrote, “I will use this experience to make a difference in my community, by letting people know not to give up on their biggest dreams, because there are opportunities out there.”

Monica hasn’t wasted an ounce of the inspiration gained during her high school travel experience with Trip of a Lifetime. Talk about giving back to the community: she is now finishing her second semester at the University of New Haven, pursuing a Civil Engineering major. Monica is a peer coach who will counsel incoming college freshmen in the fall, and she is planning on taking her message of achievement and goal setting into high schools next. She’s also turned out to be an active student body member, participating in campus organizations including the Latin American Student Association and the American Society of Civil Engineers. During breaks, Monica volunteers at Columbus Elementary School (where she went as a child) helping second graders improve reading skills.

“The Trip of a Lifetime experience taught me to do anything I could to try to change the life of others,” Monica recently said. “I have taken every opportunity that was ever offered to me to better my leadership skills and make connections.” In 2012, the US Navy awarded Monica a plaque for her community involvement. Its inscription – Leaders of Tomorrow – is a perfect description of this young woman and her future. We’re proud to know her, and to have traveled with her.

Survey Says: Travel Improves Educational Attainment and Future Success

As part of its campaign urging Americans to partake in travel for personal growth, industry group The U.S. Travel Association has documented “The Travel Effect.”  The organization fielded several studies that graph the positive fallout for individuals, communities, and the U.S. economy when people travel. Of particular interest are their findings on the benefits of youth travel and educational trips.

The group’s landmark report, Travel Improves Educational Attainment and Future Success, surveyed 400 consumers between the ages of 21 and 69. Of those respondents, 200 had taken an educational trip when young and 200 had not.

Remarkable finding of the survey include these:

Regardless of gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic class, students who traveled were more likely to be academically and financially successful. Compared to adults who did not take educational trips as children, adults who took an educational trip when they were between 12-18 years old…

  • Were more likely to attain a college degree or do post graduate work (57% vs. 33%); and
  • Earn 12 percent greater personal income annually ($41,100 vs. $36,700 per year).

Educational travel improved academic performance and influenced career choices. Educational trips played a significant role in educational attainment and future career plans. Adults who traveled as children reported that…

  • The trips had a positive impact on their education and/or career (89%).

Children who took educational trips enjoyed school more and felt a greater connection to their world. A better report card was just one of the benefits of educational travel. Adults who participated in learning-focused trips also believe…

  • Educational travel made them more intellectually curious inside and outside the classroom (86%).
  • The trips were educational, fun, engaging and/or inspiring (90%).
  • Educational travel made them feel more connected to American heritage/history (85%).
  • The local culture they experienced during their trips had a lasting impact (77%).
  • Educational trips were transformative (54%).
  • Travel made them a better person (34%).

Researchers concluded what we at Trip of a Lifetime have also found to be true: “The findings demonstrate travel’s power to transform how students approach learning, deepen their understanding of the world, and expand their career possibilities.”

Travel Changes You - What do Anthony Bourdain, Rick Steves, and Shannon O’Donnell think about travel?

Travel Changes You

In his book, The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones, celebrated chef and raconteur Anthony Bourdain writes, “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life - and travel - leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks - on your body or on your heart - are beautiful.”

We think so too. It’s a deeply held belief at Trip of a Lifetime. And while we’re asking any and all people to share their transformative travel stories with us as part of our Travel Changes You campaign, here are a few more thoughts on this universal idea.

“When I return home from any trip, I realize that I am a part of the terroir of my home turf, just as the people who so charm me in distant corners of the world are part of theirs. Those people might visit me here, find it interesting, incorporate a few slices of my lifestyle into theirs, and be just as thankful to fly home. While seeing travel as a political act enables us to challenge our society to do better, it also shows us how much we have to be grateful for, to take responsibility for, and to protect.” – Rick Steves, guidebook author and travel TV host

“At the core of it all, travel has recalibrated the point of view through which I approach problems and situations in my life, it has given me a sense of gratitude for what I have in my life through nothing more than circumstance of birth, and even more grateful for my ability to share that message with others. I know more, and though I have learned much, I understand less than I once thought. My view of the world has taken flight like a bird—outside of the microcosm of my country there is a pulsating planet of other people, like me and yet so very different; so different from what I am, have ever been, and will ever be. I appreciate travel if for no other reason than for the fact that I now feel more able to take the proverbial step into another person’s shoes and imagine their struggles, feel their hopes, and respect their successes and failures.” – Shannon O’Donnell, blogger, A Little Adrift

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