By Felicia DeInnocentiis | Staff Writer

With his passport approved and his luggage packed, junior Dillon Villarreal is ready to embark on a cross-country expedition like no other. Villarreal is a frequent summer traveller. This year, his vacation stretches from Six Flags to Niagara Falls, with multiple stops in between.

“It’s going to be interesting, because [Niagara Falls is] one of the seven natural wonders of the world, so it’ll be a good experience,” Villarreal said.

Cleveland, Ohio is another one of his destinations.

“Not only am I stopping in Toronto and Niagara Falls, but I’m going to the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. We’re going to, like, the biggest theme park in America in Ohio,” he said, admitting “I forgot what it’s called.”

For many students, summer vacation is a three-month-long nap, while, for others, it’s a chance to escape from dull routine and reawaken a sense of adventure. Usually, these students are frequent summer travelers.

“Yeah, [I travel] every summer. I’ve been to Florida like three times. I got to Nashville every summer. My uncle lives there,” Villarreal said. “I’m flying out the Wednesday after we get out. We haven’t bought the plane tickets to get back yet. I get to be there as long as I want.”

Junior Alex Callis recalls last summer’s European vacation.

“Last summer, I went to London. Oh my God, it was amazing,” Callis said.

Most of Callis’ trip consisted of walking and sightseeing in the many famous hubs of British architecture and tourism.

“We saw the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace. I did not see the Queen, but we did see the changing of the guards. They were interesting. They sometimes march up and down, and then they stand still for half an hour, and then they march some more,” Callis said.

Callis also traveled to France for a day, where he was confronted by a very different sort of European hospitality.

“We saw gypsies at the Eiffel Tower. They had dirty feet. They were walking around, jingling souvenirs on a ring, trying to get us to buy stuff at double the price it actually was [inside] the Eiffel Tower. I don’t think I actually bought anything from them,” Callis said.

According to www.infoplease.com, France has the highest percentage of tourism traffic in the world, with 79.3 million tourist arrivals in 2008 alone. The United States ranks at second, followed by Spain at third.

In order to travel outside the country, a visa is required. There are two types of visas: a card, which costs around $90 and is limited to North American travel only, and the classic Passport, which gives you access to worldwide travel but costs $130. Both of these visas require extensive paperwork long before the actual trip. Villarreal confirms that the process is arduous, and the passport takes about four to six weeks to be mailed. For more information on obtaining a passport, visit http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_830.html

“You have to get your picture made first at Walgreens, and then that’s like $10, just to get your picture made. You can’t get it anywhere else, except the post office or Walgreens. Then you’ve got all this paperwork and you have to go to certify it and you have to wait in line,” Villarreal said. “Sometimes it can take like five hours, but I went straight downtown to the courthouse and got it signed.”

Although the passport process isn’t fast and easy, the time and money are worth such long-lasting memories.

“[I would] definitely [revisit] London. I’d love to live there,” Callis said.

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About The Author

Felicia DeInnocentiis is a junior at Johnson High School. This is her second year on the newspaper staff. After high school, she aspires to go to college and major in music and, possibly, music composition. One of Felicia's goals is to be a contributing writer for Rolling Stone magazine.

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