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11 Virtual Fundraising Ideas

gap year abroad

People all over the world are looking for new ways to connect with one another in a virtual way. As you prepare for your gap year traveling in Up with People, it’s time to start thinking outside of the box to help you raise money. Online fundraisers allow you to be creative and innovative with your fundraising tactics. As one of the more popular ways to help you raise funds for your travel program in Up with People, here are some ideas to help get you started.

  1. Host a virtual concert, performance, or talent show with a link to a GoFundMe.
  2. Host a kid-friendly virtual story time.
  3. Sell crafts or personal items on online platforms such as making masks, jewelry, or artwork.
  4. Have a virtual bake sale where you offer to drop off baked goods to those who place orders on Facebook, Nextdoor app, or other local platforms that connect your community. Please make sure to see your state/county’s regulations regarding these types of fundraisers.
  5. If your birthday or graduation is coming up, share on Facebook or on digital platforms that as a gift, you would like financial help with the program cost.
  6. Get cooking in your kitchen and host a livestream cooking class.
  7. Get down with your workouts by hosting a livestream exercise or dance class.
  8. Big into gaming? Host a virtual livestream of you playing video games.
  9. Virtual game nights can be a blast and a great way to get people interactive for your online fundraiser.
  10. Host a virtual run. There are various apps available for people to track their runs. Have people screenshot their time and distance to see what their placements are. 
  11. Sew and offer masks to community members which you can connect with through various apps like Facebook, Nextdoor, and many others. Again, please make sure to see your state/county’s regulations regarding these types of fundraisers.

volunteer abroad Up with People

There are tons of ways to spice up your online fundraising. What other ways have you been raising funds for your gap year traveling in Up with People? Share in the comments below!


“Where all the old stories and centuries converge
Today and tomorrow where hope will emerge
It’s in the music and words, A World Celebration.

A World Celebration © Up with People


Disclaimer: Up with People is an international program. Due to COVID-19, please make sure to check with your state/county as well as the CDC regarding mandates and regulations. These are suggestions and should be acknowledged as such.

5 Tips When Staying With A Host Family

Living with a host family while studying abroad or taking a gap year can offer unique benefits and opportunities for personal connection during your travels around the world.

From learning about different cultures to trying new foods, it’s all about being involved in someone else’s day-to-day life. It might sound intimidating at first, mostly because we‘re so used to the comfort of sticking to our own routines. However, you’ll miss out on the chance to know what it’s like to have Sunday brunch in Germany or slow down your pace to experience the Italian way of life if you stick to what is comfortable.

host family up with peopleUp with People cast members stay with a new host family every week in different communities around the world. Based on these experiences, we’ve put together a list of five of our top tips to help you make the most of your next stay with a host family.

1. Learn the Rules

Every household has a different set of rules. Guests may be asked to remove their shoes before entering the home not necessarily to keep the house clean, but because of their culture. Some countries may also have different views on holding hands in public.

The most important thing to remember is that you are a guest in someone else’s home, city, and country. By learning a few important things, you’re showing respect and understanding of someone’s culture that can help build a positive dynamic.

At the beginning of the semester, Up with People cast members build a profile using Globesmart. This online platform accelerates cross-cultural awareness by providing advice on how to successfully navigate through 95 different cultures around the world. This helps make a student’s transition into a new country that much easier by giving them the tools ahead of time. It also can help to alleviate culture shock when entering a brand new place.

2. Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! No one ever learned anything new without being brave enough to ask questions. If you aren’t sure what to ask, here are some great prompts to get you started.

  • Have you ever hosted someone from another country before?
  • What types of activities do you and your family do together?
  • Are there certain meals that you love to make? Maybe we could make them together!
  • Is there a schedule or routine that your family follows?
  • What are some things that are typical for your family that may be different from what I might be used to?

There are many ways to open a line of communication with your host family. One English speaking cast member stayed with a host family in Italy who only spoke in Italian.

“At first, meeting my first Italian host family was kind of awkward, but was super cool in the end. They ended up not speaking a word of English so we had to use a lot of hand signals and Google translate.” – Graham, Minnesota

3. Be Engagedhost family up with people

To help you make the most out of your time with your new host family, try to be a part of different activities they do throughout your stay. If someone is cooking dinner, ask to help out. If someone is heading to their weekly workout class, why not join in?

Being engaged with the wonderful people who have opened their home to you is a great way to show that you care and to thank them for their hospitality. There is a reason that someone has invited you into their home, so allow them the opportunity to get to know you too!

4. Step Away From the Screen

Speaking of being more engaged, maybe it’s time to put down your phone.

It can be very easy to find yourself scrolling through Instagram or watching funny videos on YouTube. Try to limit your screen time so you can fully immerse yourself into their culture and lives. You’ll be grateful you did at the end of your stay.

5. Stay Connected

Your stay with a host family can often lead to life-long connections. The longer you stay in someone’s home, the more intertwined you become in their daily life and the stronger of a bond you can create with new and interesting people.

“You’re constantly networking and being immersed in the culture. Every time you enter a new family, you truly become a part of it and you feel this great connection with them. One that I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t a part of Up with People. You begin to feel how small the world really is.” – Larissa from Belgium

An Up with People Alumni, Rich Calabrese, stayed with a host family in Hamme Belgium. That was in 1987 and their families still stay connected to this very day.


Want to learn more about staying with host families while taking a gap year in

Up with People?

Click here to learn more!


“It’s a wide open world 
through another one’s eyes.
It’s the everyday people, 
the stories that they bring to life.”

Through Your Eyes © Up with People


Meet the Cast Monday: Alice from Belgium

Alice is an Up with People cast member, originally from Lebanon and now lives in Brussels, Belgium. See what life is like for Alice on the road during her gap year abroad!

gap year students in ItalyWhy did you decide to travel in Up with People?

“I decide to travel in Up With People because it is really important for me to learn a new language after high school. I also feel it’s important to learn English in an artistic form, not through books. It’s really amazing to learn the language while learning about the arts at the same time.

What was arrival day in Italy like for you?

“I was really excited to go back in Europe, especially to Italy. My arrival day was really funny because my host mom only spoke Italian. The communication was very interesting!”

How did you hear about Up with People?

“Since I was 10-years-old, my mom always told me, “I know an organization that is made for you.” In addition, I know some friends who have participated in this program. It is very famous in Belgium.”

What were you most nervous about at the beginning of the semester?

“I was very nervous to leave my home, start something new, and especially to get out of my comfort zone. I did not know how to speak English and I was very afraid to not know how to express myself.”

What were you most excited about at the beginning of the semester?

“In one hand, I am most excited to meet people from different countries. I want to learn about their cultures and how they think about life. On the other hand, I was also very interested in discovering new places and staying with host families.”

What do you hope to gain out of your experience in Up with People?

“I hope that I can grow as an individual and as a woman as I become more open minded. I also hope that I can evolve and become more independent.”

What was it like meeting your host family in Italy for the first time?

“It was a great experience because my host mom did not speak English. The fact that it is another culture allowed me to grow up and learn more! I loved the transition between Canada and Italy  because they are two totally different “worlds.” I love change in general.”

Why do you think a program like Up with People is important?

“I think that Up with People is very important because it combines several elements. It is not only learning a new language, but it is also to be constantly challenged. I think it’s important for us as a young people to see the world and for us to travel as we learn more about our world. We only have one life so enjoy it.”

Alice from Belgium Up with PeopleWhat is something you have learned about yourself while on the road?

“I am used to being quite cold and distant in my feelings, but since I am here I am open to my feelings and my way of thinking. That is thanks to my Cast B19.”

What has been your biggest challenge on the road?

“My biggest challenge has been speaking English. Since I did not know the language, it was very difficult for me to express myself, especially during the first few weeks. Now it’s much better. I can understand much more and hold a conversation with people.”

What are your plans for after Up with People?

“My dad has a sports club in Barcelona called David Lloyd and I’m going to work there for a few months to learn Spanish. After that, I intend to work on my studies in Brussels in the field of design.”

Anything else you would like to add that you think would be important for others to know about Up with People or yourself?

“I think it’s sometimes difficult for people to get into Up with People thoroughly.  Do not forget that you are lucky to be in this organization and to not forget why you are here! It is a unique chance to be here, so do not forget to take full advantage. It is maybe once in your life that you will experience this. I struggled to put myself in fully and sometimes I regret not having benefited from the beginning. But if you have a day of sadness, it is totally normal. You will come out more mature and stronger.”

“Problems, hang-ups, don’t you see,
Belong to yesterday.
This generation is future bound,
We’re hanging in there all the way.

A New Dimension © Up with People

FAQ – A Gap Semester in Up with People

With the January 2020 tour coming up in just a few short months, we have received many questions from people who want to travel. Thanks to our amazing team of admissions advisors, we have worked together to provide answers and resources for some of our most frequently asked questions by new applicants.

Up with People gap year students travel to ItalyWhat type of volunteer work will we do?

Up with People’s travel program offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities to students who travel from 6 months to a year. From various projects with Habitat for Humanity, senior housing centers, local schools, and other nonprofit organizations, we encourage our students to become active participants in the communities we visit.

Get more details regarding the volunteer aspect of our program here!

What does the tuition money go to?

Your program fee covers many aspects of the UWP experience including, but not limited to:

Tuition and Fees

  • All tours, excursions, special events
  • Program and show support, planning, and organization
  • Up with People proprietary experiential education curriculum and education staff
  • All specialized training and internship programs (e.g. performing arts, technical theatre, marketing and promotion, business management)

Room, Board, and Travel

  • All international airfare once in program
  • All local transportation once in program (bus, train, metro, etc.)
  • All accommodations/housing and meals on tour

To get a  full breakdown of our program fees and how the costs will be allocated, you can visit our Program Fees page. This will provide you with 1st semester, 2nd semester, Study Abroad and Tax Deductible options.

How can I fundraise?

Glad you asked! We provide all of our travelers with a comprehensive fundraising guide that will help you fund your semester abroad. Download your free fundraising guide.

Up with People perform in ItalyHave you ever checked out the Up with People blog? We are constantly providing new resources to our visitors on how to fundraise and travel. Some of our fundraising blog posts include:

You can always subscribe to our blog so you get the latest updates and resources from Up with People.

Will Up with People pay for visa applications?

Up with People admissions counselors are always here to help guide you through the application process and help provide you with all the information you need to secure your appropriate passport and visas. The cost of the visa applications will be the responsibility of the enrolled student to ensure that the process starts early, as it takes several months to complete.

Are there scholarships available?

Whether you are brand new to Up with People, have participated in our other programs (Camp Up with People or Up with People Jr.), we have a wide variety of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options available to all of our travelers.

Scholarships range from $500 to $5,000 based on various criteria. Learn more about our Scholarships and Grants, as well as our available Dedicated Scholarships.

How do we get college credit through the program?

Up with People participating cast members have the option to enroll in our academic credit program. You may earn up to 12 academic credits each semester of the program through Florida Southern University.

Students who enroll in the academic credit program from the United States may also be able to apply for federal financial aid awards and select scholarships toward the Up with People program fee.

Did you know that study abroad programs can also be tax deductible for students in the United States? Learn more on one of our latest blog posts!

Do I need performing experience?

While we believe in using the power of your voice for good, it doesn’t always mean singing! Performing experience is not required to travel in Up with People. We do encourage that prospective students who would like to apply have some type of interest in the performing arts, whether it is the performing or technical aspect of the program. There are no auditions to apply for the program.

See how the  performing arts are integrated into our unique program.

What are the qualifications to tour with  Up with People? Click here!

Will we stay alone in host families or with other participants?

Staying with a host family allows you to immerse yourself within each of the cultures and communities you visit. During your week-long stay, you’ll usually be paired with one of more of the Up with People cast members, but, occasionally, you may be hosted in a family alone.

Don’t see your question answered here? Contact us by clicking here and we’ll be more than happy to help!


“What I’m feeling now,
I could do something
Really listen,
Open up my heart
All I have to give
I can bring hope and live for others
I’m not afraid to start
I can do something, right now
With what I’m feeling now”

What I’m Feeling Now © Up with People


Benefits of a Gap Year According to Harvard

The 383-year-old Ivy League institution of Harvard has enrolled some of the world’s most prestigious students, including Malia Obama and Chelsea Clinton. What do these two women have in common? Aside from being the daughters of former United States Presidents, both of these women also have taken a gap year.

Canada press conference for Up with PeopleWe’ve seen a dramatic change in the way young adults pursue their higher education. More and more students are taking a semester off from college to travel and explore other options available to them. Up with People has been providing a gap year program for students since 1965, in hopes of preparing individuals to enter into the next chapter of their adult life as more socially and globally aware citizens.

Harvard College’s website currently states:

“Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way — provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college. Deferrals for two-year obligatory military service are also granted. Each year, between 80 and 110 students defer their matriculation to the College.”

Gap Year Statistics

We aren’t saying to give up college and never pursue your education. On the contrary, several studies have shown that there are significant benefits to taking a gap year prior to heading to college or technical school.

  • 60% said a gap year helped them decide what subject to study at university.
  • 90% of gap year students who originally intended to go university on their return, do so.
  • 66% of students took their academic work more seriously after having a gap year

Educational travel program Up with PeopleUp with People was previously featured in an article by the Washington Post (read the full article) where one of their reporters spoke with Laura R. Hosdid, expert on gap years at the Vinik Educational Placement Services in Bethesda, Maryland.

Many students choose to spend their gap year in structured programs volunteering abroad or in the United States…performing musical stage performances in multiple countries while living with host families with Up With People.

Hosdid explained that opportunities like Up with People provide students the ability to travel, explore different interests, and gain experience and maturity before beginning college.

Success Stories of Up with People Alumni

Many successful professionals have taken six months to a year off to travel in Up with People including Betsy Myers, previous Chief Operating Officer of Obama 2018 and Frank Gatson Jr., previous choreographer and director for Beyoncé. Other successful alumni of Up with People also include Tom Costello, journalist and NBC news correspondent, and José Antonio Ríos García, Chairman and CEO of Celistics Holdings in Latin America. All of these individuals have graciously thanked Up with People for the opportunity to discover what their true passion and career path was as they continued on into their professional lives.

Not sure how to start a conversation and talk to your parents about taking time off from college? Whether you want to explain the benefits that several universities have expressed or are needing to explain the financial aspects of experiential learning, Up with People has provided several resources to help.

Our admissions counselors are also here to answer any question you or your parents might have when it comes to taking your education and leadership development into a different classroom setting.


Schedule your interview with Up with People by contacting us here!


“There are people out there who do more than their share
They reach out a hand, lift up their fellow man
Let the world see their fight, they’re turnin’ wrong into right
Lets all take a cue from the unselfish work that they do
And then let’s shine the light
Shine the light (x 2)”

Shine The Light © Up with People

The Power of Your Voice

Up with People study abroad students perform in EuropeYour voice is a powerful tool. Up with People, teaches young adults as they travel throughout their gap year to find ways to use their voice to positively impact the world.

Incredible people throughout history have used their voices to create change. Maya Angelou was a poet and an activist who used her voice in support of the Civil Rights Movement. Jazz Jennings is a teenager who got her claim to fame by becoming an American YouTube personality as an LGBT rights activist and a transgender woman. 

The misconception is that you don’t have to be famous or have a million followers on Instagram to be able to empower someone or make a difference in the lives of others. There are many ways, both big and small, you can use your voice for the betterment of communities throughout the globe, despite how young or old you may be.

Express generosity, compassion, and understanding with complete strangers.

There is something spectacular that happens when a complete stranger passes you in the street and compliments your shoes or holds a door open for you for fifteen minutes because they see you coming a mile away and weirdly enough still says “thank you” instead of “you’re welcome” like you just did them the favor. 

While receiving is a great feeling, giving is exponentially more rewarding. Maybe you see someone on the subway who has been crying and you tell them, “Everything is going to be okay,” even though you don’t know their true circumstances. Use your voice to express something positive to someone you don’t know. It could easily make their day, and yours, too.

Empower someone who is younger than you.

Through music, books, movies, and social media, there are many ways in which we are influenced. Whether it is how we look on the outside or what types of things we think are “cool,” there will always be outside sources in society telling us what we should and should not like. Children and teenagers are more susceptible to the influences of various media sources than adults are because their minds are still trying to figure out who they really are. 

Up with People gap year students volunteer abroad at a school with childrenUp with People believes in being unapologetically yourself and we thrive on the individuality of people regardless of their backgrounds, upbringings, love of death metal, or passion for knitting wool scarves in the summertime. Use your voice to empower someone younger than you. Lift them up to be proud of who they are and encourage them to go after whatever goal they want to achieve.

Speaking of social media…

Since we are on the topic of social media, you can always vocalize through text, photos, or videos. We are lucky enough to be living in a digital age of fast and easy communication. It allows us to be a part of something bigger and connect with people all around the world. Whether you are advocating for environmental change or just sending out positive vibes to your followers, you can use social media for good whether you have ten friends or ten million likes.

Use your voice for forgiveness.

Did you know that holding grudges can actually be bad not only for your mental health but for your physical health too? Negative emotions can lead to increased anxiety or depression, which can ultimately increase your blood pressure and heart rate. It can also cause physical pain in your body like lower back discomfort or arthritis. Take some time to reflect on the grudges you hold in your life. Speak to those people and use the power of your voice to forgive someone. It will not only make you feel better, but it will also help provide a sense of gratitude from the person receiving your forgiveness.

There are many ways in which you can use the power of your voice for good. In what way will you use your voice today?



Video: An Experiment in Gratitude – The Science of Happiness


“Love, I was confused and made you wait
I should have listened to my heart,
I shouldn’t need to validate
Who I love, now I’ve finally been set free
Cause the person here in front of you,
He’s finally, really, me.”

Really Me © Up with People

My Host Family Experience in Up with People

host family while traveling abroadIn 1987, 22-year-old Rich Calabrese traveled as a cast member in Up with People. During his time on the road, he stayed with a host family in Hamme, Belgium during their European tour. This is where he met the VanHoof family who was once his host family and has now become a part of his life-long, chosen ‘family.’

We wanted to find out about his experience staying with his host family, and how he still manages to keep in touch with them after all of these years.

What was your initial meeting experience like with your host family?

“Very pleasant. I took some photos and signed an autograph for them. We spoke for a long time.”

How do you still keep in touch with your previous host family to this day?

“Occasionally we speak on the phone, maybe once or twice a year. When I was in Belgium about 15 years ago for a fellow cast member’s wedding, I was met at the airport by the VanHoof family and they enthusiastically and warmly greeted me. Before we went to the wedding destination, we were able to spend some time catching up. We even met up again in Brussels after the wedding.

Aside from using the phone, we will also video chat and we absolutely send hand-written letters.”                                                                        

What lessons did you learn from your host family? 

“I learned that simple interaction with another person may leave a lasting impact. Not just when it comes to staying with a host family, but making friends along the way. 

Several of my best friends are castmates I traveled with and we are still in close contact. About 15 of us gather every autumn for a reunion in Long Island and we travel from several countries to attend.”

Host families while traveling abroad on your gap yearWhy is staying with a host family important while traveling? 

“Being immersed in any family’s culture can be an eye-opening experience. Learning about their traditions, favorite foods, holidays and their way of life gave me experiences that I could never duplicate today. In fact, some of my experiences I still talk about to this day.”

Anything else you would like to share with others about your experience traveling in Up with People?

“Traveling in Up With People will impact your life. You’ll leave with memories and experiences to tell for years to come. Occasionally there were times that I didn’t realize what I had learned until several years after the tour ended. They were all “ah-ha” moments. I remember watching TV with my family when I heard “Nkosi sikelel’ Afrika” during the TV show. We sang this during our international segment of our show!

I kept a daily journal throughout my year which I strongly encourage. Nowadays, everything is instantly online 24/7. My family and friends back home didn’t know what city we were in and what we were doing daily. I promised my Mom before I left that I’d write at least one page a day, which was easy to do because of our busy schedules. By the end of the year, I had six completed journals and more than 800 pages were written.” 


“It’s an unfinished world
And it’s still in the making.
It’ll take all we can give
‘cause together we all live
In an unfinished world.”

Unfinished World © Up with People

5 Fundraising Ideas on a Budget

Gap year students in performing artsIn the words of John Denver, “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go.” With all of the excitement for starting your gap year traveling abroad, there may be a part missing within the big picture. How will you afford to travel?

While there are  many scholarship and grant opportunities available, they  may not cover your entire cost as well as some of your day-to-day expenses. Instead of spending a ton of money on fundraising, here are some inexpensive and budget-friendly ideas to help you raise the money you need to fund your semester off from college.

1. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Why not tap into the resources you already have? Peer-to-peer fundraising is when you build upon the relationships you have already made with your current donors. Your biggest supporters are already advocating for your success. Asking your friends and family to help you spread the word about your goals is an absolutely free way to start networking and raising money. Plus, it multiplies the impact on what limited resources you may already have.

2. Find a person or organization to participate in donation matching

Donation matching is an incredible way to expand your fundraising goals. Find a person or local business that matches your values, and ask them to support you through matching donations. It could be a match on all donations you receive or just a portion, but either way, it is more of an incentive for others to continue increasing your total donations.

3. Use a skill or asset you already have

Everyone is good at something, and it’s time to start utilizing that in your favor! Maybe you are an amazing painter and want to host a painting lesson. If you’re a singer and performer, then why not put on a show or sing-a-thon? One study abroad traveler in Up with People even created and sold a cookbook because she absolutely loves cooking. Get creative with it!

Leadership skills during your gap year abroad4. Host an event at your home or local community center

Thinking of using one of your amazing skills to host an event? Talk to your friends, neighbors, colleagues, peers or even your parents about where you could host these events for free. There are certain community centers and local facilities that occasionally offer free use of their venue for nonprofits or for fundraising. You’ll never know until you ask!

5. Crowdfunding and social media

Want to run a successful online fundraiser? Crowdfunding is on the rise and is a very successful way to help raise money for your travels abroad. All you need to do is find a platform to use and start sharing it on your social media or through email. Set a goal, tell a compelling story and start sharing!


Any tips for future travelers? Share your fundraising ideas and tips in the comments below!


“It’s where you’re goin’ and where you been
Cuz the beginnings never end.
Another road, another chance
To move ahead… take a step.
Oh… a single step”

A Single Step © Up with People

Part 1: A Year Abroad with Ivy

What’s it like to be a traveler in Up with People? Ivy from Texas gave a testimonial about her gap year traveling in Up with People. As a participant in the Study Abroad program, Ivy talks about not only the knowledge she gained from her teacher, but also about the personal growth she experienced during her time abroad.

Ivy from Texas

Study abroad student smiling in Europe


As a traveler, what was the reason behind choosing Up with People as your Study Abroad program?

“I grew up hearing about Up with People from some of my cousins who are alumni of the program. It instantly became one of my life-long goals. As I got older, I chose Up with People because I realized that it’s everything that I’m passionate about all in one place. I love traveling, immersing myself into cultures, developing my leadership skills, helping other people, and making connections. I found every one of those things in my year in Up with People as I went to a new city every week. I had the chance to connect with my castmates, my host families, and the communities that we visited while making a difference along the way.”

What was your favorite part about traveling in Up with People?

“I think my favorite part of traveling in the program was the way that I found myself while discovering the world at the same time. You think you know yourself, but as you are discovering the world you are learning about who you are as a person within this world. I think that’s so important and such a big part of being a global citizen.”

Volunteer abroad students in Up with People painting a muralWhat do you feel you have gained the most out of traveling in Up with People?

“I feel like Up with People has made me more aware. That sounds really vague, but I almost mean it vaguely because it encompasses so much. I feel more aware of what’s going on in the world around me at all times. There is an awareness of why people are the way they are on an individual level and from that I’ve gained so much empathy. I’m also more aware of myself and how my actions affect or are perceived by other people. I learned about civility within topics that are hard to talk about with an awareness of the world issues, respect for people’s opinions, and an understanding of how my words and actions can be used in such a way to gain understanding and share my perspective with compassion.”

What advice would you give to others who are considering joining the program?

“I think it’s easy to get caught up in the details and try to define everything that you’re going to experience from the beginning. It’s something that I did and it’s something that one of my roommates did as well. Just remember that you can’t anticipate every experience that you’re going to have and it’s best to live in the moment. Just go with the flow, which is something I never thought I would have said before my experience in Up with People. I always needed to know every detail of what to expect. Now it’s much easier for me to  “dance with the circumstance,” as they often said in my time in Up with People.”

Two study abroad students playin gin the snow in winter

If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

“This is something I’ve thought about a lot lately and I think the answer has to remain no. Sure, there are things that I regret and things that I would do differently now, but in the end, everything happens for a reason. Everything plays a specific role. I wouldn’t be the person I am today or learned the lessons that I did if anything had been different. I’m so grateful for all of the hard lessons I’ve learned through every uncomfortable experience and wouldn’t change a thing.”

Any other thoughts you would like to add you think people should know about being a traveler in Up with People?

“I’ve never felt more alive. I’ve changed so much through my time in Up with People. It really showed me how small the world can be and how easy it is to connect with others. I feel incredibly empowered and that I can accomplish so much more than ever before. It showed me what career path I want to take, what kind of people I want in my life, and what I’m capable of as a person. Everything feels so limitless as I reenter life outside of Up with People and I’m so excited to integrate it into my life from now on.”


“We will trust in each other
When it’s all on the line
We will rise up, together,
We will keep hope alive
Keep it alive…”

Keep Hope Alive © Up with People

Ways To Keep in Touch While Traveling Abroad

Making the decision to travel abroad for a year is one of the most exciting choices in your life. However, as you travel, you may begin to lose touch with the people back home that matter most to you. But don’t worry! We’re here with some tips on how to keep in contact while traveling abroad so that you can stay in touch with your friends and family. This information will also make your parents feel more at ease, knowing that they can communicate with you regularly throughout your journey.

Group of study abroad students laughing

Choose the right cell phone and plan

Your mobile device is going to be your best friend while you travel. You’ll use it to document your journey through photos and videos, manage your online finances and stay in touch with mom and dad back home.

Picking the right phone plan is a great place to start. T-Mobile has a great international plan that can cover data and text messages in over 140 countries around the world. Many other carriers also have international options that could be a better option depending on which countries you’ll be visiting. Based on your specific needs and financial ability, you may also want to get a phone that is unlocked so you can add local SIM cards. You can easily purchase these when you arrive in the country you’ll be visiting. Taking advantage of WiFi is also an option when you have the chance to connect through a local vendor or your host family.

Facebook and Instagram Posts with Videos & Photosgroup of students volunteering abroad

Did you know that over 2.7 billion people use Facebook? Before heading out on your voyage, talk to your parents about getting them signed up on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube if they aren’t already. That way, while you travel, you can post photos and videos to your social media accounts and everyone will be able to follow your journey. Plus, they will know that when you share a post, this probably means you are safe and having fun too!

Skype, FaceTime or other video chatting platforms

Video chatting through different mobile apps like Skype or FaceTime are great ways to keep in touch with your friends and family back home. However, being in different time zones and living with random schedules can make it difficult to connect. We always recommend trying to schedule days and times each week to have these calls with your loved ones. 

WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger

Can’t get connected to video chat? Send a text through WhatsApp or Facbeook Messenger. Both are free text messaging apps that will keep you connected. You’ll get notifications just like a regular text message plus there is free phone calling and video chatting. You can also see when people have received and read your messages which is another great way to let your parents know that you are safe.

Start a Travel BlogGap year student starting a blog to keep in touch

Starting a travel blog is actually quite easy to do, and it’s free! It’s a great way to not only allow yourself to reflect on your travel experiences, but will also be a place where people can return for more updates from you. You can start a YouTube channel and create a weekly Vlog series to share updates of where in the world you have been or your favorite stops along the way. You can also start a free website through WordPress or Wix to blog about your adventure that way. Once you’ve posted something, share it to your Facebook and other social media channels so that others can be inspired by your story. 

Send a postcard from wherever you are

Who doesn’t love getting a letter in the mail? Snail mail may be old school, but it’s a fun way to surprise someone while they sift through piles of grocery flyers and utility bills. Postcards are a fairly inexpensive way to send a loved one a momento from the different places you have traveled to. Sure, it may take extra time to get to where you want it to go, but the person receiving on other end will be ecstatic, and touched, upon receiving your handwritten note.

Keeping in touch while traveling can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. What other ways do you stay in touch with people while they travel?


“Keepin’ in touch
Get my message, give me a call.
Keepin’ in touch,
Wanna see you, wanna hear it all.
Keepin’ in touch,
The most important thing that I gotta do
Is keep in touch with you.”

Keepin’ In Touch © Up with People