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Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

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Why your senior trip doesn’t need to break the bank to be unforgettable

The buzz begins a couple of months before the academic year’s end. Soon-to-be graduates eagerly ask each other, “Where are you going for your senior trip?” In the age of social media, students may feel compelled to present spectacular answers, proudly announcing far-flung locations such as Mykonos, Paris and Cancun. But they rarely include any local destinations. Even though many teens in Marin County are fixated on lavish, expensive, Instagram-worthy vacation destinations, it is important to step back and realize that a senior trip doesn’t have to be incredibly extravagant to be memorable.

Illustration by Nadia Massoumi

Senior trips have been around since the 1970s. At the beginning, these trips were more like excursions, typically involving wholesome adventures like driving to the local beach or camping in the forest with friends for a couple of days. Certainly, senior trips are a worthy endeavor, as they provide a fun and instructive window into the independent future most graduating seniors will be experiencing very soon. But in the last decade or so, these trips have become less about learning real-life independence and more about a contest as to which grads have the most picture-perfect vacation spot. This development is directly related to an increase in social media use among Generation Z. In fact, Charles Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth survey stated that 44 percent of surveyed Generation Z admitted to spending money on experiences because of social media, showing just how influential these apps can be on its young audience’s senior adventures. And these “experiences” are not cheap. A seven-day senior vacation abroad can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, including airline travel, room and board, meals and excursions. But the truth is that these trips certainly do not have to cost anywhere near that much to be incredible.

These trips can be extremely valuable for the development of young adults’ minds, given that they offer a taste of independence reflective of life after high school, and provide a setting to celebrate a significant milestone. In our parents’ generation, senior trips served the same purpose of providing a memorable last hoorah before separating from longtime friends, but without the exorbitant cost. For example, a simple camping excursion with friends has the same benefits of adventure and independence but costs much less — even when factoring in food, gas and campground fees. These types of trips are not only more financially accessible to students that may not have the means to go on extravagant vacations, but they also allow grads to see the truest form of the life they will soon be living outside of their guardian’s homes. 

So the next time someone asks, “Where are you going on your senior trip?” don’t feel the pressure to say Barcelona or Puerto Vallarta. Instead, plan a trip that will truly create long lasting age-appropriate memories. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten that these senior trips are supposed to be, quite simply, unforgettable moments for 18-year-olds. When you are young, with your friends beside you, you can have the time of your life anywhere.

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About the Contributor
Taylor Allan
Taylor Allan, News Editor-on-Call
Taylor Allan is a junior at Redwood High School and is the news editor-on-call for the Redwood Bark newspaper. She is interested in all kinds of music and loves spending time with her friends. In her free time she plays guitar, piano, ukulele and she sings!