Teenagers & Travel: How To Plan A Family Holiday With Older Kids In Tow

April 01, 2023

Older kids have different interests and needs so it's important to keep these in mind when planning a family holiday with them.

Are you considering planning a family vacation sometime soon? Vacations can be a great opportunity for family members to spend quality time together, away from the distractions and responsibilities of daily life. However, if you’re planning on travelling with teenagers, planning the ultimate family getaway can get quite complex, even at the best of times.

Teenagers & Travel: How To Plan A Family Holiday With Older Kids In Tow
Photo by Helena Lopes

Teenagers & Travel: How To Plan A Family Holiday With Older Kids In Tow

    While challenging in its own right, planning a holiday with small children is often an easier task than planning one with teens because the needs of younger kids are generally simpler than those of adolescents. Small children can be happy with basic accommodations and simple meals, and their entertainment needs can be met with kid-friendly toys or games. In contrast, teenagers may have more specific needs and preferences, which can be more challenging to fulfil.

    Living at home with a tween or teenager can often be difficult enough, so how do you survive travelling with them? Today, we share 6 tips for planning a family holiday with older kids in tow. Read on to find out more!

    1. Involve Your Teen In The Planning Process

    Would your teen prefer to rough it out at a camping park, or luxe it up at the Four Seasons Sydney? Would they prefer to visit Asia or Europe? These are the types of questions you should be asking when planning your family holiday.

    One of the most effective ways to involve teenagers in the planning process is to give them a sense of ownership and agency over the family vacation. The reality is that no one likes to be left out when important decisions are being made, and the best way to get your older kid excited for some quality time with the family is to take their opinions into consideration. 

    For example, you can create a shortlist of potential destinations, activities, and accommodation options and let your teenagers choose their favourites from that list. You may not be able to accommodate all of their requests, but giving them a voice in the planning process will help them feel heard, and in turn, more invested in the holiday.

    2. Choose A Destination With Something For Everyone

    Choosing the right destination is crucial when planning a family holiday with teenagers. Because teenagers have more specific needs and interests than small children, it's important to consider their preferences when hoping to find a travel destination that genuinely offers something for everyone.

    Some popular options for family holidays with older kids include theme parks, beach resorts, cities with cultural attractions, national parks with outdoor activities, and adventure destinations like a mountain getaways. 

    Of course, there is no one size fits all rule to this, and the ideal travel destination will differ depending on your teenager’s unique interests. Once again, you get the idea! Just have an open dialogue in order to pinpoint a getaway destination that works for everyone.

    3. Plan Activities Your Teen Will Enjoy

    To keep teenagers engaged, entertained (and most importantly, not moody or rebellious) it's essential to plan teen-friendly vacation activities that they will be sure to find exciting and relevant. This could be anything from adrenaline-pumping adventures such as bungee jumping or zip-lining, to cultural experiences like visiting historical sites or local markets. You may even opt to fill your itinerary up with interactive experiences like theme parks or if you’re feeling brave enough a sky-diving session!

    In truth, there is nothing worse than being dragged to 10 different activities that you absolutely have no interest in, and this goes for any traveller. By offering a variety of activities that appeal to different interests and learning styles, teenagers are more likely to feel motivated and stimulated, which will make for a much more pleasurable vacation experience for all involved. What more could you ask for?

    4. Feed Them Well

    Any parent of an adolescent will know that a hungry teen is NOT a happy teen. With this in mind, the key to keeping your beloved young adult content on your travels is to ensure that they are well-fed at all times.

    Hunger and poor nutrition can affect teenagers' mood and behaviour, leading to irritability, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. By keeping them well fed, you can help to prevent these issues and ensure that they have a positive and enjoyable holiday experience.

    So, be sure to carve some time into your itinerary to visit numerous restaurants, cafes, markets and stalls throughout the day to keep their bellies full. Moreover, a vacation is also the perfect time to encourage your kids to explore different cuisines and cultural specialities so they can expand their palette.

    5. Set Reasonable Boundaries Regarding Screen-Time

    It is no secret that we live in an age where children and teenagers seem to be chronically online. This can often prove to be challenging for parents, especially when it comes to setting boundaries regarding screen time during family vacations. 

    To avoid potential disagreements or arguments, we recommend working with your teen and coming to an agreement on a specific amount of screen time they are allowed per day. You can set limits on the number of hours they can spend on screens or the times of day when they are allowed to use their devices.

    For example, you could agree on keeping phones and tablets away during mealtimes, or keeping phone usage to a minimum when engaging in holiday activities such as sightseeing. Of course, we’re sure your teen will want to take tons of photos, videos and Instagram stories of their adventures, so be sure to keep this in mind and avoid being overly strict.

    Top Tip: While you’re at it, don’t forget to model good behaviour by limiting your own screen time and showing your teenager that you value spending quality time with them.

    6. Don’t Forget To Give Them Some Space

    Last but not least, don’t forget to give your teen some space. While it's important to keep your teenagers engaged and entertained during your family vacation, it's equally important to allow for some downtime.

    Teenagers often desire privacy and need time to relax and recharge, so make sure there is time in the schedule for them to do so. This could be as simple as allowing them to spend a solo morning by the pool or having an afternoon nap.

    Alternatively, if you feel confident enough to allow your teen to explore your travel destination on their own, consider allowing them to go on a tour or organized activity by themselves. Remember — it’s important to communicate with teenagers about their need for privacy and to respect their boundaries. So, be sure to make it clear that you understand their need for space and that you will give them privacy when they need it. This will certainly guarantee a happy teen!

    And there you have it — 6 tried and tested tips that are guaranteed to help you plan a successful family vacation with older kids in tow. By communicating with your teen, setting reasonable boundaries and getting everyone involved in holiday planning, you’re guaranteed a much more memorable and enjoyable holiday experience for all. All the best and safe travels!

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