NEXT month, 16-year-old Rachel Tai will pack her bags and head off on a week-long trip to Japan with four friends - a last hurrah before she starts her polytechnic course.
'I just want to be away from Singapore; sometimes it gets boring here and it is a chance to be away from my parents,' she said recently.
The teen is among a growing number of young Singaporean globetrotters.
Their increasing affluence and an explosion of cheap flights led to a record jump in the number of travellers between 14 and 25 years old last year, according to travel industry insiders.
A Straits Times check of six travel agencies showed a 15 to 25 per cent increase in youth travel last year, compared to 2006. Annual growth in previous years was 5 to 10 per cent.
According to SA Tours, young jet-setters spent more than $1.3 million last year on tickets and travel packages.
For many young people like Reina Lee, 18, travelling abroad is a chance to get away, relax and have fun with friends.
'Singapore is so small; I have explored every part of it. Travelling lets me see something new and gets my adrenalin going,' she said.
Miss Lee has a marketing job at a health-care firm that pays about $2,000 a month.
She has made three trips - to places such as Hong Kong and Malaysia - with her friends since December last year. Her next trip will be to Genting next month, for which she has put aside $1,000.
Like Miss Lee, most young travellers have a tight budget.
Rachel, the soon-to-be- poly student, will spend about $1,000 for her week-long trip.
She realises that is not enough to be fussy about her hotel.
'As long as the room is clean, we don't care how big or small it is. We won't spend much time in it anyway,' said the former Ang Mo Kio Secondary School student.
Travel agents say most young travellers spend less than $800 on trips that last between three to six days. They usually split the cost with friends.
Their destinations also tend to be close by, with hot spots like Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand topping their lists.
The mushrooming of low-cost airlines has fuelled the rise of youth travel, according to Ms Jane Chang, a spokesman at Chan Brothers Travel.
'Airfares are probably the main concern for youth travellers because they are often tight on cash but have heaps of time on their hands,' she said.
She added that budget airlines 'have made travelling affordable for youth who do not mind the no-frills mode of transport'.
Meanwhile, travel agencies are looking to capitalise on the market.
Hong Thai has started a special division for youth travellers and is offering numerous packages that include stops at theme parks, along with a host of water sports.
And SA Tours has plans for tour packages designed for youth travellers.
These offers have come in handy for couples like Mr Tan Liang, 28, and his wife, Ms Yvonne Han, 25.
They bought an all-inclusive four-day package to Krabi, in Thailand, for $400.
Said Ms Han: 'With budget airlines we travel a lot more, about once every three weeks. Last time it was twice a year.'
Top photo: EASY GETAWAYS - Mr Tan Liang, 28, and his wife, Ms Yvonne Han, 25, booked an all-inclusive four-day package to Krabi, Thailand, for $400.