How is COVID-19 affecting fall 2020 programs?

We are moving forward as scheduled with the September 14 start date for all of our fall programs.  The situation with COVID-19 is, however, still very fluid.  It is possible that we might have to start our trips slightly later than originally planned.  As always, all of our decisions will be made with the health and safety of our participants being our number one priority. We will never send a Youth International team anywhere that is not considered safe.  As always, we will continue to consult the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the US State Department, and will follow their guidance and policies.

Youth International is offering special flexibility with its refund policies due to COVID-19. First, as has always been the case, if a trip had to be cancelled, for any reason, the full amount of all money deposited toward the program will be refunded immediately. If a program is rescheduled, the participant will have the option to either cancel for a full refund or transfer their program payments to the newly scheduled program.

In addition, due to COVID-19, we are offering full refunds on program deposits up until July 1, 2020 to all participants who change their mind for any reason at all on traveling in fall 2020.

When do Youth International trips run?

Youth International’s 3 month multi-country travel semesters are offered in the fall semester, which runs from September to December.  An intensive 3 1/2 week program in Nepal is offered in the spring semester, from mid-April into May.

*Youth International does not run any programs during the summer months.

How many people are usually on each team?

A full team consists of a maximum to 14 participants, plus two team leaders.

Who is eligible to join Youth International?

Anyone from any country who will be between 18 to 25 years of age when traveling with Youth International, may apply to join the program. (Some flexibility with this age restriction does apply.)  The only factor that would automatically exclude anyone from joining a Youth International trip would be an inability to fully participate in all program activities, or an inability to obtain tourist visas for the necessary countries. Please read the Essential Eligibility Criteria for more details.

If you are interested in joining one of our upcoming gap year travel programs abroad, we ask you to fill out an application form online and provide personal references. Applications are followed up with a telephone interview. Teams are filled on a “first come” basis for those who are selected. Applications are accepted at any time for upcoming semesters, so early ones do have an advantage.

For more information on how to join a Youth International team, click here: How To Join

How can I get an application form?

Click here: Application

Is Youth International a religious program?

Youth International does not affiliate with, or adhere to, any specific religious or philosophical doctrine, and has no political affiliations or agenda.

What is the fee for a Youth International program and what does it include?

The cost per student for the fall 2020 semester programs is: US $10,950 for the Asia program / US $11,950 for the South America program/US $11,550 for the Africa program. The cost of the shorter spring 2021 Nepal program is: US$ 3,500.

This program fee covers all program expenses during the semester abroad, including: all meals and lodging, all overland travel, all scheduled program activities (including the cost of all outdoor adventure activities and site-seeing etc…), team leaders and in-country staff, all costs for orientation in the USA, educational materials, and other miscellaneous expenses related to the program.

In addition to the program fee, participants must pay for their flights. On average, the cost of flights will be approximately $1800 for the South America program, and approximately $1,900 for the Asia program and Africa program.

The only other costs that the program fee does not cover are personal expenses and individual free time activities. Personal expenses include health insurance, entry visas, and transportation to orientation in Colorado at the beginning of the program.

Where are Youth International trips going in 2020/2021?

In the fall 2020 semester, there will be three teams: Asia, South America, and Africa & Near East. The Asia team will travel to Nepal, India, and Thailand for 13 weeks.  The South America team will travel to Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador (including the Galapagos Islands) for 12 weeks. The Africa & Near East team will travel to Kenya, Egypt, and Jordan for 12 weeks.  In the spring 2021 semester, there will be one team traveling to Nepal for 3 1/2 weeks.

Dates for 2020/2021 programs: 

  • Asia (Nepal, India, and Thailand): September 14 to December 13, 2020.
  • South America (Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador): September 14 to December 6, 2020.
  • Africa & Near East (Kenya, Egypt, and Jordan): September 14 to December 6, 2020.
  • Nepal: April 24 to May 18, 2021.

View detailed gap year travel program itineraries here:  Asia Fall 2020/ South America Fall 2020/ Africa & Near East Fall 2020 / Nepal Spring 2021

Can I get college credit?

Yes, Youth International is affiliated with Western Colorado University. College courses are offered through Western Colorado University for the Asia and the South America programs. All experiential activities involved in the credit courses are already included within the Youth International program. Students enrolled for course credit are required to complete additional reading and written work, as specified in the specific course syllabus. Please request a course registration package from Youth International for further details.

Can I pay from a 529 college savings fund?

Yes, 529 funds can be used to pay for the college course costs and the entire Youth International gap year travel program fee, so long as you have registered for at least one of our college courses offered through Colorado Western University.  AmeriCorps education awards can also be used in the same way.

Who are the program leaders?

For information on Youth International program leaders, click on this link: Leadership

How do participants communicate with parents and friends while they are traveling?

Youth International participants have access to phone and internet/email about 80 percent of the time during a trip.

Also, someone in the Youth International office is in regular contact with our groups every couple of days while they are abroad. And, in the case of an emergency we are always able to contact a team quickly. Email updates are also sent to family and friends of each team on a regular basis.

How do we get the visas necessary to travel to these countries?

Youth International provides participants with information on how to obtain tourist visas well before the start of each program.

How old are Youth International participants?

Youth International team members range in age from 18 to 25. (Occasionally we have participants outside of this age range, including participants who have graduated from high school at age 17.)   The average age is 19, but most teams have participants from across the full 18 to 25 range.

What types of people join Youth International teams?

This is a very common question, and is perhaps the most difficult to answer as there is really no “typical” Youth International participant. Each is unique!  Our participants bring with them a wonderful diversity of backgrounds and interests. Team members share a like-mindedness, and often bond through their common interests and enthusiasm for the activities and ideals which drew them to the Youth International gap year travel program.

All, in some way or another, are eager to step outside of their current path, and to challenge themselves to get out and learn more about the world and about who they are in relation to the world.

Many are taking a “gap year,” or a semester off in the middle of college, or a year off between graduating high school and beginning college. Several have recently graduated college, and want to experience some of the world before starting a career or going on to graduate school. A few are taking time out from a career.

The majority of our participants come from the United States; they come from all corners of the country. We also have many participants from across Canada. Youth International also has some members that have joined us from a number of other countries around the world, including Ireland, Mexico, Israel, and France.

How long has Youth International been around?

Youth International has been sending groups on learning adventures abroad since January of 1997.

How do I know what to pack and how to prepare for a trip with Youth International?

Everyone who has been accepted to travel with Youth International is given a Travel Preparation Package outlining everything they need to know about what to pack and how to prepare for their Youth International adventure.

Are Youth International trips safe?

The health and safety of our participants is our number one priority at all times. Since Youth International began in 1997, there has never been a serious accident or illness.

Each group travels together, under the guidance of two team leaders who are with the group for the entire trip and who can reach the Youth International office 24/7 in case of an emergency. The team leaders are trained in First Aid, CPR, and are often Wilderness First Responders. When split up to live with host families, team members are still together in the same village, town, or city, and the distance between homes is normally very short. In most locations, there is also one or more in-country coordinator who is there to look after the group and who will assist in the event of a crisis or emergency.

All participants are required to have travel medical insurance and emergency medical evacuation insurance. For each location on the group’s itinerary, there is a response plan in case of a Medical Emergency, which is aimed at getting a sick or injured participant as quickly as possible to the best and nearest medical facility. Youth International’s comprehensive Emergency Response Plan also has guidelines for a broad range of other emergency situations.

In the rare event that a planned gap year travel program area, or an entire country, were to present an unacceptable risk for travel, Youth International will alter the trip itinerary accordingly. The safety of travel to all of our program destinations is continually monitored through the US State Department, the US Embassy in each country, and our local program coordinators.


Does Youth International pay commissions for referrals?

No, Youth International does not pay for referrals. Youth International recruits on the strength of its reputation and never pays a commission for referrals to our programs. If your gap year travel consultant put you in touch with Youth International, it’s because he/she knows and trusts this program and it is a good match for your interests. Students should be wary of consultants who accept or, in some cases, demand commissions from programs.  Such financial compensation to consultants does not have the student’s best interests at heart.