Traveling with teens can be a challenge. They want independence and space from you, and you want to spend quality family time and get them to explore the world. But it can be done, and well.
- First of all, get them interested upfront by involving them in trip planning so they have a say in what your destinations and activities will be.
- Second, expand the possibilities. Some activities you might think of as adults-only affairs can be tailored for teens, like going to a spa.
- Third, remember that it’s always hard to spend all day long with the same people for multiple days in a row. Be prepared to give your teens (and yourself) breaks from the family, either between activities or built into the activities themselves.
Here are some things to do and places to go on vacation that can be as fun for your teenagers as they are for you.
You can stretch out on a towel while your teen uses all that energy they have exploring the water and the shore. Beach trips offer amazing scenery that can get teens interested in the planet and curious about landscapes they may not have seen before. A stay at the beach offers opportunities to experiment with activities, too. Beaches are also a natural place for teens to socialize, so they get some time away from the family during the vacation.
Beach activities are some of the healthiest, both physically and mentally. Surfing with teenagers is not only fun, but it requires mental focus and teaches them to be resilient and try again each time they fall. Windsurfing, boogie boarding, and even paddle boarding can have similar effects on their minds and bodies. Doing activities like this on vacation may just leave your teen with a new interest in a sport that will stick with them for a long time.
National Park Hike
You don’t need to leave the country to have an epic vacation. The US has some fantastic national parks to explore, and many trails are family-friendly. You might have more success if you let your teen go at their own pace instead of insisting you stick together the whole time—just plan for regular check-in breaks. But walking through the woods can also be a great time to have deeper conversations that might not happen at home.
What better setting to give your teenager all the freedom they want while not worrying too much about them than a big ship? Cruises tend to be all-inclusive, which means it’s easy to say yes to the food and activities teens might want to have or do without worrying about your trip budget. And while a cruise might bring to mind a trip with your parents before one with your kids, there are cruise lines that cater specifically to families with teenagers. Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas, for instance, has zip lines, laser tag, and a teens club. You can also opt for an itinerary that stops at CoCo Cay, the cruiseline's private island.
If you’re physically active, consider a bike tour with your teen. This is a different way to sight-see that also keeps you active and energized throughout the day. Different age groups have different needs, and touring companies will put together packages specifically for families with teens, like these bike trip options throughout Europe.
Like cruises, all-inclusive resorts package lodging, food, and activities into one deal so you know what to budget for upfront. Many offer a range of activities your teen can try (with or without you) and parties and movies at night. There are great options throughout Central America and the Caribbean.
Traveling with teens can be a smooth and fun process if you go about it the right way. Take their interests into account and make sure there’s plenty for them to do, and you might be pleasantly surprised by how much quality time you get to spend with them. - - Morgen Henderson.