Traveling with teens can be incredibly rewarding, but no matter what age they are, it also comes with a fair share of challenges.
These challenges alter, as your kids get older, needing new strategies and quite often – a whole new way type of holiday.
When kids become teenagers, they have a whole new set of challenges to take on themselves, generating little anxieties like ‘fitting in’ and ‘fear of missing out’.
Their friends become far more important to them as they start to fine-tune their interests and develop their adult personalities. Being in the school band is no longer cool, but being in A band might be.
Scooters are replaced with skateboards, Disney is replaced with Animé, socks cease to exist above the lining of one’s Vans and parents are no longer the fountain of all knowledge and the rulers of the world.
Trust me we have 5 kids, 4 of whom have already reached the magic eye-rolling, humphing age of 13.
So a fair bit of understanding, and leeway is required if everyone is going to get along on holiday (or at all).
But don’t let that put you off going on holiday with them. And don’t for a moment think they no longer want to go on holiday with you, they just don’t want to go on the same type of holiday you took them on when they were five.
With a bit of forward planning, it is still possible to enjoy each other’s company.
10 Tips for traveling with teens
1. Involve them in the planning process. Ask them where they’d like to go – perhaps somewhere they’ve always dreamed of going.
2. Try something new – take them somewhere they’ve never been before, somewhere exciting that will build anticipation and give them bragging rights in the school playground. Whether that’s hiking the rim of Kings Canyon or the Grand Canyon, snorkeling with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef or snow boarding in Japan.
3. Think about fueling their adrenalin, beyond action movies, computer games and theme parks, with activities like jet boating in New Zealand, scuba diving with bull sharks in Fiji or pot holing at Jenolan Caves.
4. Choose your accommodation wisely. Whether your budget is large or small, you are going to need more room with teenagers, and seriously, separate rooms. If your budget decrees separate tents rather than separate rooms, fine, just make sure they’re separate.
5. Revisit your youth with the YHA. There are plenty of budget options for bigger families. Youth Hostels are a great idea, most of which now have double rooms and family rooms, so it’s possible to find a combination of the two that works.
6. Make sure your chosen destination or resort has a range of activities suitable for teenagers – whether that’s surfing, horse riding, volleyball or football.
“Nothing bores a teen more than watching everyone else have fun without you, watching your younger brothers or sisters enjoy activities that you’re not invited to because you’re over 12.“
7. Find activities that will challenge both of you, and face those challenges together, whether that’s facing a fear of heights at the top of Auckland Sky Tower, a black run down the mountain or trying scuba diving for the first time. When you come through the other side unscathed and pretty damn pleased with yourself, you’ll have bonded in more ways than one.
8. Accept the fact the smart phones are coming on holiday with you and take steps to avoid “roaming mobile bill shock”. Ensure the hotel or resort you’re staying at has wifi, find out the cost involved and if necessary buy yourself a local SIM card.
“Any hotel wanting to welcome teens is going to need wifi so that we can stay connected with our friends back home. We don’t need to be checking in every five minutes, but we need to know we can check in when we want to.”
9. Be flexible and allow plenty of down time, or what my kids like to call “lazy days”. It’s okay – you’re on holiday, so it’s acceptable to spend at least one day in your pyjamas watching in-house movies.
10. If at all possible, avoid holiday plans that require early starts. Sleeping in seems to be a human right that teenagers hold dearly. If you don’t want to sleep in yourself, use the time to have breakfast in peace or go for a walk.
Do you have any tips for traveling with teens?
Read how this one family manages a lifestyle of travel with a teenager.