Traveling Can Make You Rich

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be sending my high school age daughter to Thailand during a summer. But it happened. Is she that unique in her quest for travel to far away places, I wonder?

After some very diligent research, she decided upon Rustic Pathways, a travel program largely oriented around community service trips in the east. She knew friends with positive past experiences in the program, and I was impressed with the outfit. Overall, Rustic Pathways is very organized and communicates efficiently. They are thorough in trip planning, and have a huge variety of trips in exotic and far away locations. All of the trips sound interesting, and it is difficult to decide which excursion to take! There is an excellent online and print catalog. The only downside is: the trips are not cheap!
  • TREKTIP: Allow your child to plan a trip and do the research. Consider having your child save up and pay for most of a trip. This way the value is most appreciated!
J decided to go on the most extreme and difficult trip. (That's my daughter!) She chose Come with Nothing, Go Home Rich. It's a community service trip to northern Thailand where the students can only pack one outfit and toiletries. (When I dropped J at LAX, her bag for a one-month trip only weighed a record breaking 6.5 pounds!) They purchase everything they need locally, live a week at a time in 3 remote villages, in the villagers' homes. They experience cultural immersion, eat authentic food, sleep on the floor, use "squat" toilets, shower with cold water in a bucket, and participate in village activities. The most rewarding aspect is giving the village what it needs in terms of community service. One village required a brick wall built around their school. Another required a 2 kilometer ditch dug and PVC piping laid to bring water to the village. Upon leaving the village, the ceremonious gratitude the villagers show the group is the ultimate gift.

She and her fellow travelers experienced intense bonding, earned friends for a lifetime, and came away with the lessons of life that can't be taught at home or in the classroom. Now that's rich!

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