Head west to discover two of TFT’s favorite destinations: Australia and Hawaii! Our journey begins in Australia, where you will discover the best of Australia’s wildlife while completing service work with local organizations dedicated to protecting the country’s unique and diverse wildlife and natural habitat. Projects include volunteering at a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned tree-kangaroos, visiting an endangered ecosystem to help preserve the trees that gliding possums call home, and helping with the revegetation of local parks. Over the years, our service work has had a direct and positive impact on the community, even being featured in the local news.
Then it’s off to the land of sun, sand, and sea turtles as you head to Hawaii! Touch down in laid-back Maui and immerse yourself in the traditional Hawaiian lifestyle while learning about sea turtle conservation. Here you’ll participate in several community service projects to protect the endangered hawksbill sea turtles. Projects include snorkeling and reef surveying, nest watches, night patrols, and watching over sea turtles as they bask on the island’s beaches. Connect with a local Hawaiian family and help out with their sustainability projects while embracing the traditional Hawaiian way of life. This is a fascinating cultural immersion and a wonderful way to experience the true meaning of Ohana in Hawaii!
In both destinations, we complement our service projects with plenty of adventure. Cuddle with koalas, pet kangaroos, spend time adventuring in the outback, explore Sydney, discover the Great Barrier Reef, zip – line through lush jungles, walk through bamboo forests to waterfalls, sea kayak over cerulean waters, and more on this incredible journey to discover the best Australia and Hawaii have to offer!
During this program, you will…
- Earn up to 45 hours of community service working with Australia’s unique wildlife and flora and helping with a sea turtle conservation project in Hawaii
- Spot platypus and wallabies, hold a koala bear, and pet a kangaroo!
- Scuba dive* or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
- Spend the day with a local Hawaiian family in a beautiful valley at their sustainable farm
- Hike through the rainforest and learn about this important ecosystem
- Visit the iconic Sydney Opera House and explore the neighborhoods of Surry Hills, Manly and Bondi
- Learn to hula and enjoy a traditional Hawaiian feast at an authentic Hawaiian luau
- Spend time playing with the local children of Oahu
- Suit up and climb to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge for incredible harbor views*
- Catch the sunrise from the top of Haleakala Volcano and bike down through the clouds*
- Swim in pristine waterfalls and lakes and slide down natural rock formations into natural rock pools
- Cook a traditional Hawaiian feast and learn the ways of “old Hawaii”
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: DEPART FROM LOS ANGELES (LAX)
DAY 2: CROSS THE INTERNATIONAL DATE LINE
DAYS 3-6: CAIRNS > KURANDA RAINFOREST > ATHERTON TABLELANDS
Our first stop in Australia will take us to the “Far North Queensland”. After landing in Cairns, we will spend a full day in Kuranda, learning how to throw a boomerang, practice playing the didgeridoo, and we’ll enjoy a traditional Aussie BBQ lunch. You’ll also have the chance to cuddle a koala, feed a kangaroo, and immerse yourself in a greenhouse full of butterflies! Then we’re off to spend a full day cruising the turquoise waters on the incredible Great Barrier Reef where we’ll have the the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive* with sea turtles exquisite sea life. In-between the adventure activities, we’ll take the time to explore the bustling city of Cairns, including visiting the famous night markets where you can pick up a souvenir or two!
DAYS 8-9: BRISBANE > MORETON ISLAND
Hop on a quick flight and land in Brisbane. After exploring downtown, we’ll catch a high-speed ferry to the third-largest sand island in the world, Moreton Island. Choose how to spend your days — maybe feed wild dolphins, sand-board down giant dunes, snorkel through shipwrecks just off the shore, or spend some time relaxing on the gorgeous beaches of the island.
DAYS 10-11: SYDNEY
We round out our time in Australia in Sydney, where you will explore the urban and cosmopolitan excitement of the capital city, with its splendid harbor and world-class metropolis. Visit the Botanical Gardens, discover the history of the famed Sydney Opera House, check out a movie on the world’s largest IMAX screen, stroll down Bondi and Manly Beach, enjoy the city’s fantastic shopping in Surry Hills, and explore Sydney’s world-famous fusion food scene.
DAY 12: FLIGHT FROM SYDNEY (SYD) TO OAHU (OGG)
DAY 13: OAHU
Our time in Hawaii will begin in Oahu, where we will discover the island’s beauty and connect with locals on a service project. A truly unique experience, we’ll hike through a lava tunnel to the top of famous Diamond Head Crater for breathtaking views of the island.
We will also visit to the Boys and Girls Club in Honolulu. While here we will run a program for the children involving sports, arts and crafts, or anything else we can dream up! This provides the opportunity to bond with the children and gain more insight into BGCH’s mission of inspiring the local Hawaiian youth.
DAYS 14-20: MAUI
Then it’s off to the Hawaiian paradise of Maui, with pristine white sand beaches, colorful coral reefs, lush vegetation, and turquoise ocean. Lucky for us, our hotel is right across the street from some of the best beaches on the island! We can hop over any time we like for beach volleyball, relaxation, and a refreshing swim.
Maui is also home to our sea turtle service project. We partner with a local organization dedicated to protecting and researching this endangered species. We’ll learn all about the hawksbill sea turtles and participate in a variety of projects dedicated to sea turtle conservation. Some of these projects include snorkeling and reef surveying to collect ocean data and look for turtles, beach cleanups to protect their natural habitats, watching over basking turtles on the beach, and we will very likely have the opportunity to participate in a night watch for nesting turtles and help the babies make their way safely to the ocean!
For a truly authentic experience while on Maui, we will visit a small village tucked away in a private valley where you will fully immerse yourself in the traditional Hawaiian lifestyle. We will help with their sustainability projects including taro farming and fish pond restoration.
Embrace Hawaiian traditions and try your hand at a variety of activities such as hula, drumming, and even cooking a Hawaiian feast!
DAY 21: RETURN FLIGHT TO LOS ANGELES (LAX)
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Cairns we stay in the center of town a few blocks away from the Esplanade. In the Yungaburra we stay in a cozy lodge nestled in the Atherton tablelands that feels just like a home away from home. On Moreton Island near Brisbane we stay in resort-style accommodation. Finally in Sydney we stay in the heart of bustling Surry Hills, centrally located within walking distance of all the major attractions. In Maui, we stay at a beautiful hotel right across from the beach in sunny Kihei. We will also spend two nights at rustic cabins in a beautiful private valley.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about this program?
Students love that they are able to explore a diverse amount of Australia and the insight they gain from experiencing the “real Hawaii” off the tourist track. The varied locations and activities throughout the program give the teens a wonderful overview of this amazing part of the world. In particular, the teens relish the opportunity to make a direct, visible difference to the local community they are giving back to.
What is unique about this program?
Swimming with sea turtles on the Great Barrier Reef, performing community service helping Australia’s indigenous wildlife and gazing over Sydney from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to name just a few! In Hawaii we have an exclusive invite to a private valley where we have the unique opportunity to spend two nights with a local family and learn more about the traditional Hawaiian way of life.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts, lunches during the service portion in Australia, and dinners.
Not included in the cost (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, visas and visa application fees, beverages other than filtered water at meals, lunches, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not program related, such as movies, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Our Australia & Hawaii Service program is an exciting combination of our 17-day Australia program and our 11-day Hawaii Sea Turtle program. The flight between programs is not covered in the cost of tuition and is considered part of your international airfare. TFT will have a set group flight path from Australia to Hawaii. You can choose to book this on your own, but we recommend booking through our office as we usually are able to get better flight deals.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food is an integral aspect of the travel experience, and we make an effort to eat at authentic establishments whenever possible. There is no better way to immerse ourselves in the culture of a place then through sampling the local delicacies. We stray away from westernized restaurants and chains that cater to tourists, because every true traveler knows the best food is found where the locals are eating!
Australia is a very multicultural country with an incredible array of cuisines from around the world. Each with large migrant populations the food is as authentic and delicious as you would find in the original country. Greek, Italian, Thai, Indian, Chinese, the choice is yours! For the adventurous eaters there is also kangaroo, crocodile and emu to try.
The food in Hawaii involves plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and of course, seafood! Some typical foods we will have the chance to try are poke bowls, acai bowls, poi, and breadfruit.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need to bring anything special for the community service portion of the program?
Due to the nature of our service work outdoors with habitat restoration and local wildlife, all you’ll need are clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and a water bottle to stay hydrated. A more detailed packing list will be provided upon registration.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for the trip?
All US citizens will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority visa for a fee of $20 USD prior to traveling to Australia.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded top youth travel organization in 2017
"Thank you, thank you and thank you!!! We love receiving the daily updates and photos. We are so impressed with TFT and the counselors. This has been a dream for Jaelyn to return to Korea, to see her birth country and learn about the culture. We could not have picked a better organization to travel with. She is very happy to be there and we are glad to see her taking advantage of every opportunity... by the photos. Thank you so very much. We feel like we are traveling with her with all the wonderful photos!!"
"Thank you so much for the photos and updates. We look forward to them each night! I love how big Joanmarie’s smile is in her photos! What amazing experiences that will help to shape their knowledge of the world."
"Wow, incredible pictures from Ecuador. Love the mule ride! We can’t wait to hear about the Galapagos and see more photos. Thanks for taking such great care of the travelers, sounds like an amazing trip. Thanks for all the updates and fabulous pictures. Cate was very excited about working on the sustainable farm and then getting to play some futbol! Thanks for all your enthusiasm and great guidance. Cate has had an amazing time from what I have heard."