Friday, May 18, 2018

Welcome Trip Leader Mike!


Hello everybody! My name is Mike and I was born and raised in Albany, NY! I think the reason that I wanted to be a leader for Teen Treks is because I know how much I got out of them when I was on the trips as a teen. For me, biking was a necessity that I grew to greatly enjoy. It provided me a way to get to my first job, a camp counselor; it afforded me an opportunity to immerse myself in other cultures during trips through Canada and France; biking also provided me a sense of independence and personal responsibility as my first means of transportation. When I have both feet on the ground I enjoyed reading, golf, Frisbee and the natural next step ... Disc Golf! I am looking forward to working with all of you! Stay Classy…

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Adventurer Vol. 18 No. 25


Packing For A Bicycle Tour

While packing for a bicycle tour, I believe it is important to pack light while not forgetting to pack the essentials. It's no fun trying to cram all your belongings in overstuffed panniers every morning because you brought too many extra pull-over sweatshirts for a summer bicycle trip in the northeast.

Since bicycle touring involves spending most of your time outside, it is imperative to consider the climate of the area you will be visiting. For a summer trek in the northeast, I wear a t-shirt and shorts almost everyday except for those few days of rain or cooler evenings. Even though theTeen Treks packing checklist recommends bringing a fleece jacket, I'll just bring a light weight flannel or cotton long sleeve shirt for those few cooler nights since these will pack up much lighter. On Treks like the Pacific Northwest or European Grand Tour I would definitely bring a fleece jacket and maybe even rain pants for those cooler rainy days. As for pants, avoid bringing jeans on any Teen Trek. Light weight pants are a better option because they take up less space in your panniers and will still keep you warm or keep the mosquitoes away.

Tyler's bike mechanic tip

When packing your bicycle in a box, taking off the pedals may seem like a daunting task. How do you keep the pedals from moving about when you're trying to get them off? Use your U-lock! Wedge the U-lock through the wheel along the chain stay. This will stop the crank from turning and thus keep the pedals from spinning as you turn your wrench.
Biking shorts are an increasingly popular clothing item for bicycle tours. Personally I use athletic shorts or cargo shorts for my tours and I do just fine. However many cyclists prefer the extra padding provided by biking shorts or special padded biking underwear. If you are not a regular cyclist, padded biking shorts or underwear are probably better than regular shorts because you may not be used to spending long periods on the saddle.

Lastly a word on panniers and rain. Teen Treks avoids riding in heavy rain, however groups will often ride during a light rain. You should pack your bags with the eventuality of rain in mind. Completely waterproof panniers are a good option, their downsides being lack of small pockets and often higher price tag. Alternatively you can purchase rain covers to put over your bags during a downpour or pack your clothes in dry sacks/Ziploc bags.

If you haven't already, check out our Gear Guide for more comprehensive packing advice.

-Tyler, Teen Treks Program Manager

The First Sunrise in the United States


Every summer, Maine Coast trekkers round out their journey along the Maine Coast with a hike or bike ride to the top of Cadillac Mountain in time for the first rays of sun to hit the United States.

Twas a brisk Wednesday morning, 2:40 a.m. to be exact, as Ryan awoke to the alarming noise of Max's iPhone. It was 3:00 a.m., however, when Max came to awaken the rest of the campers. It only took 7 snoozes, I guess. This was finally the day during which the Teen Trek Titans would conquer the imposing heights of Cadillac Mountain. No one was even close to enthusiastic about waking up at three in the morning to traverse the Cadillac Trail, but the group knew the result when we emerged at the top would be incredibly fulfilling. Normally the group would not be characterized as early-birds, but this morning they were especially groggy. After nourishing themselves with a small meal of apples, bananas and granola bars, the Titans journeyed to the restroom and water spigot to prepare for the impending excursion. With filled water bottles and relieved restroom needs, the group set forth into the darkness to initiate the journey of a lifetime. The first third or so of the hike was rather daunting due to the dim atmosphere, unsure footing and fatigue of the group, but as they approached the first clearing of the hike and saw the first hint of light prior to the sunrise a feeling of rejuvenation cascaded over the group as they felt their second wind pushing them forward. The distant light on the horizon was quickly getting brighter and brighter and the Titans knew they had to pick up the pace in order to make it to sunrise. They huffed and puffed their way up the mountain and, after a heroic hike, successfully made it to the peak of the intimidating Cadillac Mountain. The sunrise was breathtaking and the view from atop the mountain was stunning. Shortly after the group took in the view, however, many members laid down on the rocks for a heavenly 2-3 hour nap, well deserved I might add. All of this had been completed but the entire day still lay ahead of the group, so they made haste down the mountain leading the way to the best breakfast of the trip at 2 Cats Café. They ate like royalty there with luxuries such as a private room, balcony, and bathroom with a complimentary shower and unlimited coffee with delicious pancakes. After concluding breakfast the Titans ventured towards the Bah Hahbah square to catch the bus to the famed Echo Lake. The bus ride was perfect for some essential rest that the group had been dying for, a thirty minute nap that felt like 30 hours. After chicken fights, chilling with CJ and resting in an anonymous man's hammock, the group concluded their day with shopping, ice cream, and the first clear night of their stay at Acadia.

Written by Trekker Ryan, an author and a poet
Space Still Available on These Amazing Treks!    
Trips are filling up fast!  Sign up NOW to get a spot on your preferred trip!  (all trips click here)

Connecticut - Rhode Island Trek
Travel the shorelines of Connecticut and Rhode Island with us this summer and enjoy sandy beaches, winding back roads, and charming New England towns. You’ll follow the coast through scenic Guilford and Madison, and bike through the miles of sandy beaches at Hammonasset State Park. Over the next few days, you’ll visit quaint Old Saybrook and New London, and get to know Mystic Seaport. In Rhode Island, you’ll catch a ferry to Block Island, featuring miles of pristine beaches and great bike paths. Another ferry will land you in Newport, where you’ll ride north for 2 days in historic Providence before catching a bus back to NYC.
New York City - Montreal Trek
Ride up through the Hudson Valley, taking dips in lakes and rivers and stopping off in picturesque small towns and New York’s capital, Albany, then cycle along the Adirondacks up to Lake George for boating, swimming, and time on the beach. A ferry will take you across the lake to Vermont, where you’ll check out Burlington, a laid-back town in a beautiful mountain setting famous for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and friendly locals. From Burlington, you’ll travel back into New York State for more swimming at Lake Champlain, on the Canadian border, then cross into Quebec. You’ll bike through French Canada to Montreal, where you’ll have three days to explore this lively, cosmopolitan city, visiting street markets, eating at great restaurants, and seeing stunning architecture.
Teen Adventure Travel

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Planning Tips: Planning Air Travel For Unaccompanied Minors

If your teen is under 15 years old, depending on the airline they might be considered an unaccompanied minor while flying. Each airline has different policies regarding which ages are considered an unaccompanied minors & additional fees for their services. Southwest and Alaska Airlines have the lowest fees for unaccompanied minors. Additionally both airlines only consider unaccompanied minors to be under 13 years old (or in the case of Southwest, under 12 years old). Below is a comparison chart of airline policies for unaccompanied minors as of April 2018.

Airline
Age of Unaccompanied Minors
Unaccompanied Minor Fee
Notes
Alaska Airlines
8 to 12
$25 each way
$50 for connecting flights
American
8 to 14
$150 each way
Can travel on any nonstop or direct flight, or any connecting flight through Charlotte, NC (CLT), Washington Reagan, D.C. (DCA), Dallas Forth Worth, TX (DFW), New York, NY (JFK and LGA), Los Angeles, CA (LAX), Miami, FL (MIA), Chicago, IL (ORD), Philadelphia, PA (PHL) and Phoenix, AZ (PHX).
Delta
5 to 14
$150 each way

Frontier
5 to 14
$110 each way
Can only travel on nonstop flights
JetBlue
5 to 14
$100 each way
Can only travel on nonstop flights
Southwest
5 to 11
$50 each way

Spirit
5 to 14
$100 each way

United
5 to 14
$150 each way
Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop flights operated by United or United Express®. Codeshare flights and other flights operated by our partner airlines are not eligible for unaccompanied minor travel

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Welcome Trip Leader Ben!

Hello!

Ben here, from New York City. I’m super excited to spend the summer exploring beautiful city and country roads from our bikes. I fell in love with bike touring as a teenager, and it’s been a big part of my life since. My favorite tour was down the pacific coast from Seattle to Los Angeles. In addition to cycling, I love making videos, cooking, talking with friends, and getting lost in a good book. Professionally, I’ve worked with teenagers for years in arts and music programs, outdoor adventure, and college readiness counseling. Currently, I’m following my passion for community building in a Master of Social Work program at Hunter College. I can’t wait to hit the road with you all, and take in the fresh air and amazing sites.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Welcome back Trip Leader Tyler!

Hey everyone!

I'm Tyler, and I'm excited to once again be leading with Teen Treks this summer! After spending this year working as the Program Manager in the office, I'm looking forward to getting out of the office & back to my roots of being a Trip Leader. The past few years since graduating from college I have spent nearly a year traveling in Asia, bicycled across America, and worked with Americorps at a local Buffalo high school. Nothing is more exciting than traveling and the unexpected adventures that come along with traveling! I also enjoy making music with friends on the piano, guitar, and occasionally the accordion. Hopefully I can fit some kind of musical instrument onto my bicycle this summer, it sure is nice to have a guitar while sitting around the campfire! I can't wait to gear up, meet this year's trekkers, and get on the road!

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Adventurer Newsletter Vol. 18 No. 24

Europe by Bike

Teen Treks' European Grand Tour is the definitive European experience for teens!
This edition of The Adventurer brings this truly life changing experience alive
through stories of days spent sightseeing in Paris, touring Belgium, & exploring bicycle heaven (aka the Netherlands).
On this incredible 4-country adventure, you’ll bike through major cities and quaint villages in Britain, France, Belgium, and Holland, visiting major museums and monuments, eating at great local restaurants, and getting to know each place’s music, art, history, landscapes, and people!

Unforgettable Paris; Experiencing Paris the Teen Treks Way

The European Grand Tour crew spent Saturday morning at the palace of Versailles seeing how the French royalty used to live (among lots of gold items and giant paintings of themselves.) Then we rode to our hostel in the city. We were lucky to discover a concert in the plaza nearby, so we grabbed a quick dinner and checked it out.

On Sunday we spent the afternoon on a walking tour, during which our tour guide told us tons of stories about Paris' history and monuments. (Did you know that on statues, the position of the horse's legs tells how they died? The front legs in the air means that the rider died in battle, four legs down means that they died of natural causes, and one front leg and one back leg up means that they died of unnatural causes, like assassination. Cool, right?)



For our final day in Paris, we first went to The Louvre, where we spent a couple hours admiring the amazing and plentiful masterpieces by some of the most influential artists in the history of art! After visiting the beautiful Mona Lisa, we let ourselves get lost in the art (literally) as we wandered down the halls within the humongous confinements of the museum. After seeing more pieces from eras such as the Renaissance, Ancient Greece and Egypt, and the Medieval ages, we left the Louvre and rode our bikes to the Eiffel Tower!


Sunday evening was the highlight of all our time in Paris, because we went to see the fireworks at the Eiffel Tour in honor of Bastille Day. It was really amazing to see the tower silhouetted by the fireworks behind it, then lit up with flashing lights. Though we had seen it lit up by an incredible firework display the night before, seeing it up close gave it a whole new beauty. After many failed attempts to get a decent group photo (sans bunny ears, goofy faces), we headed back to the hostel to get ready for dinner.



For our final dinner, we decided to splurge a bit in Montmatre, a lively and showy district where Moulin Rouge originated from. We went to a traditional French restaurant where many of us had our first taste of escargot. We had a delicious mix of foods which included foie gras, scallops , a hearty and flavorful beef stew, and"beautiful steak" (as described truthfully in the menu). After dinner we concluded our exciting day with an assortment of scrumptious pastries in downtown Montmatre.

Au revoir, France! Till next time :)


Belgium - "The Greatest Country in the World"


As we leave the greatest country in the world and venture to a country known for its tulips, it is a proper time to reminisce and remember the glory and beauty that is encapsulated in brave little Belgium.

While we only stayed in Ghent and Bruges for two nights total I can 100% say that I'm hooked. We got into Ghent on the 16th and I was astounded by the center of Ghent, which surrounds a river.  ALL the people that we spoke to in Ghent seemed friendly and laid back, even the natives, who are called called "free boaters" or Ghentians(?). This fact, multiplied by the amount of bikers, waffles, chocolates, french fries, castle in the center of the city, amazing hostel, and lack of *bike thieves, made the medieval-looking Ghent one of my favorite places on the trip. It was a bittersweet departure from Ghent, but I was able to contain my tears.

I was skeptical that anything could live up to the paradise of Ghent, but after a confusing and easy bike ride, we arrived to the just-as-medieval-looking city of Bruges and I was pleasantly surprised. While Bruges is a little more touristy, it is just as awe-inspiring and has even higher cathedrals. The city seemed out and about the whole night, but it still maintained a quaint placid feel that was cool. (The only critique I had was that the restaurant we ate at made us pay for water.) The departure from Bruges was even harder as this was our last day in the beauty of Belgium.

Amsterdam & the Nation of Bicyclists


The lasagna and bicycling in Amsterdam is awesome!  Yesterday, we went for a walking tour of the city.  Our guide was so animated! We learned that the Dutch have a long history of social reform. We crossed canals, sampled fine cheeses, and saw a house just 1.8 meters wide (the man who lives inside is taller than that!) After the tour we wandered around for a while to soak up the city, exploring shops, books, chocolate, bridges and other neat stuff. This morning we mustered the courage to enter the Anne Frank house.  It was really intense and quite sobering to reflect on the atrocities committed during the war.  Afterwards we cheered ourselves up with a visit to the site of the first flea market (there's still one I operation today) and some warm coffee in a leaning rickety old building that was once a gatehouse for a canal.  After that, we visited the waterfront to see Renzo Piano's Nemo.  Then we went for a ride on a canal boat before winding down at the hostel over some delicious nachos.  Life is good.
Teen Adventure Travel

Monday, April 30, 2018

Welcome back Trip Leader Katie!


Hey there Teen Trek adventurers!

My name is Katie and I am travelling all the way from south Texas to come hit the road with you this summer. This isn’t my first rendezvous with Teen Treks, I got to lead a trip back in 2011 with some awesome kids, and I still think about the times we collected mussels in the bay and cooked them over the fire later that evening, or the time we biked faster than ever to catch the last ferry of the night, or the delicious pizza we ate after a day full of monstrous hills. Bike trips like this are life changing adventures, and I can’t wait for the experiences we will have together this summer! A little about myself, I grew up in Texas near the river, and I am not ashamed to say that I consider jumping in the river an equal trade for a shower! I love being outside, if I could live in a tent for the rest of my life, I’d be content! Instead, I live in a tiny travel trailer on the river, right next to a bike trail wrapping all around the city! Just as much as I love being outside, I also love people. I’ve traveled to Spain, England, Mexico, Canada, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Rwanda, Portugal, and all around the U.S. Embracing new cultures, meeting new people and learning about different ways of life is a passion of mine. I’ve been involved with peace and reconciliation work with youth in my travels, and continue to pursue my interest in a better future for humanity through sports initiatives, blog writing and podcasting. Learning from younger generations while imparting the wisdom I have gained is important to me, and there is no better way to do this than taking a trip together and seeing where the road takes us!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Welcome Trip Leader Yael!


Hi there Trekkers!

My name is Yael and I’m originally from New Jersey. I love to travel and have lived in many cities around America, including Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Danbury (CT) and, briefly, Anchorage. I’m currently a graduate student in Philadelphia studying psychology and working in research at a children's hospital. I love to test out new stir-fry recipes, run through Philly and volunteer at my local animal shelter (I recently fostered a playful Great Pyrenees-mix puppy named Andy). I've worked as a counselor in both overnight and day camps, and as an instructor in a farm-based school where I helped students take care of their favorite farm animals, like llamas, sheep, cows and even an emu. I was a trekker when I was younger and I had an amazing time on my trip, making close friendships and unforgettable memories. I’m so excited to join Teen Treks again this summer and help guide an incredible, safe and fun experience! I can’t wait to meet everyone, load up the bikes and hit the road on a new adventure!

-Yael

Friday, April 20, 2018

Welcome Back Trip Leader David!


I’m David, originally from Atlanta, GA. I can’t wait for yet another summer with Teen Treks: biking is my preferred form of travel since you can cover so much ground, yet still take in the sights and sounds of the region where you are traveling. I had a blast biking from New York to Montreal and the Pacific Northwest Trek in past years!

Summer is my favorite season. Since I was in high school, I’ve been lucky enough to do something different each summer, from going to the World Cup in South Africa to raft guiding in Tennessee to mountaineering in Canada.

A benefit of my job as a high school teacher is that I can keep adventuring during the summer! After working at an international school in the Dominican Republic for two years, I relocated to central Virginia, where I took up kayaking, yoga, and mountain biking. I even built my own trekking bike up from scratch! For the past few years I've been living in Salt Lake City.

I love teaching in the classroom, but nothing beats the experiential learning and growth that comes from going on an adventure. I can’t wait to meet you and for our super-duper biking extravaganza to begin!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Welcome Back Trip Leader Aimee!


Hi, everyone!

My name is Aimee and I'm a band teacher for Delaware Academy in Delhi, NY. I'm really looking forward to getting to know all of you and seeing the country over the next couple of months. I've gone camping all over western New York and Canada, and two years ago I led my first bike tour in Cape Cod. Last year was a biking marathon for me—I toured the Pacific Northwest, then the California Coast, and finally NY to Montreal! Other than biking, my favorite summer activities are swimming, playing my flute, reading outside, and playing with my bunny. During the school year I enjoy roller skating, cleaning (weird, I know), and daydreaming about future Teen Treks trips. This summer will be fun—see you soon!

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Adventurer Newsletter Vol. 18 No. 23

What do Teen Trek leaders do when they are not leading treks?

After an exciting summer of adventure with Teen Treks, Koby returned to Western Massachusetts for his second to last year studying art at Hampshire College. He's spent his time making music and movies, wandering the forest, and building snow forts, eagerly awaiting the heat so he can bike again.

-Koby, New England Shore Trek & Pacific Northwest Trek Leader 2017
Koby (top left corner) with the Pacific Northwest group at the top of Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, WA.

Exploring beautiful Niagara, right in Teen Trek's backyard!


The Niagara - Toronto Trek is a wonderful trek for first time explorers! For the first three days the Trekkers explore historic Buffalo, NY and the world famous Niagara Falls. 

The day started out with an exciting ride on the Maid of the Mist boat, which takes visitors right to the foot of the Falls.  Everyone got a good sprinkling as we donned blue ponchos and sailed past the Bridal Veil and Horseshoe Falls.  After disembarking we cycled to Goat Island and saw the falls close up, this time from above.  A quick jaunt to the Three Sisters Islands and a ride over the rest of the islands followed.  After lunch we made our way to Whirlpool State Park along the Robert Moses Parkway bike path (in New York), a former highway converted for bike use.  At Whirlpool State Park we dismounted our trusty steeds and descended into the maw of the Niagara Gorge.  A shady hike ensued with lots of laughter and stops to dip our toes into the warm water.  The views were great; we were surrounded by panoramic views of the gorge, a few fisherman, huge slabs of rock and Canada.  After hiking up some less than desirable stairs and crossing back into Canada we cooked up a filling meal of pasta alfredo.  Another good day for Niagara-Toronto where the kids were so tuckered out that they feel asleep with the lights on.  Onward and upward! - Leader Keaton

New England Shore Trekkers Find Awesome Beaches & Lighthouses on Block Island 


Each summer, the New England Shore Trek takes two days to explore Block Island on their way from New York City to Boston. Last year, as always, this particular New England Shore group had an unforgettable experience delving into quintessential maritime Rhode Island during their stay on Block Island.

After some campfire songs last night we all were able to get a good night sleep. We rode to a beach called Moehegan Bluffs today, and had a great time body surfing the waves, lying in the sand and walking along the beach. In town we had an in-depth political discussion over fish and chips. Everyone was free to shop around a bit while Craig and Chadwick (Claire and Kobi) found a grill to cook dinner over. During that time Rex (Avi) and Peter (Andre) "parcoured" their way out of rocky peninsula. We had a nice bike ride down to the lighthouse, where we found a shack people had built from driftwood. We hung out and climbed around in it for a while and decided we would move there one day. Back at the Boy Scout Camp we roasted turkey breasts, veggies and pineapple over the fire. All in all an incredible day :)

Space Still Available on These Amazing Treks!    Trips are filling up fast!  Sign up NOW to get a spot on your preferred trip!  (all trips click here)

Pacific Northwest Trek
Biking north out of Seattle, this route follows the breathtaking views looking out over the Puget Sound through hip towns in Washington and up to vibrant Vancouver, Canada. You’ll take ferries to the San Juan Islands, a temperate archipelago that hosts communities of whales, great blue herons, and wild swans, and on to Victoria, BC, then return to Washington for 3 days camping out and exploring Olympic National Park - all before visiting historic Port Townsend and returning to Seattle for a day of urban exploration!
D & R Canal Trek
We've designed this trip special for our first time explorers! Join us to explore American history and picturesque cities on the D & R Canal Trail this summer! Stay away from busy roads and enjoy your ride on this six-day introduction to bicycle touring. You’ll visit great little towns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Princeton (where you’ll get to tour the Princeton University campus), Easton, Trenton, and Bethlehem.
Teen Adventure Travel