Family vacations are the perfect time to strengthen bonds while traveling with teenagers, go on new adventures together, and create family memories that will last a lifetime. But if you’re the parent or grandparent of a tween or teenager, you know how hard it can be to get kids at this age to get excited about anything — even a vacation! Instead of seeing the sights with the family, tweens and teenagers are too busy rolling their eyes or texting on their iPhones to notice. But traveling with your older kids can be rewarding, if you know how to keep them interested. Our client Kari Baker shares her family travel experiences about her fantastic 10-day trip to Lucerne, Paris, and London with her husband and 12-year-old twin daughters.
Kari’s 3 Tips on Traveling with Teenagers to Make a Vacation One to Remember, for all the Right Reasons:
1. Plan for Free Time
Once kids hit the double digits, they start craving more and more independence — so lots of guided tours while traveling with teenagers and tweens tend to cramp their style.
Kari recommends planning for tours every other day, that way the family has plenty of time to learn more about a destination in a group setting and explore of their own.
Plus, tweens and teenagers are notoriously late sleepers, who may get a little grouchy if they don’t get enough shut eye. Balancing tour days with free days helps with this, too.
“If we got too exhausted it was nice to not feel the pressure to join a tour at 8 am, and we all enjoyed sleeping in,” said Kari.
2. Tie Your Tweens and Teenager’s Interests into Sight Seeing
The easiest way to get your kids interested in a family vacation is to give them a chance to provide input on some of the activities or destinations included in the itinerary.
For Kari’s family, classic historical sites like Stonehenge and the town of Bath mostly elicited yawns, but Kari enjoyed seeing her daughters light up when they visited sites inspired by their own interests.
One of her daughters is a ballerina, so a trip to the Paris Ballet for a show was a big hit, and of course a visit to the ancient English village where part of the Harry Potter series was filmed kept both girls excited and engaged.
Incorporating their hobbies into a trip while traveling with teenagers is not only a great way to keep them interested, but it provides a chance to strengthen your connection with your kids — they’ll love to share their interests with you.
3. While Traveling with Teenagers and Tweens Steer Clear of Touristy Spots — Or Go the Private Tour Route
Short attention spans and short tempers mean waiting in long lines to see touristy spots might not be the best idea for tweens and teenagers.
“When we went to Versailles, it was super hot, and we waited two hours to get through security — I think we should’ve just skipped it,” said Kari, although she advises that opting for private tours for some tourist sites is also a good idea.
But if you or one of your kids is dying to see a particular sight, don’t pass it up!
Seeing the sights you’ve previously only dreamed of is what traveling is all about. And don’t underestimate your tween or teenager’s desire to see certain world-famous landmarks.
Kari had to chuckle when one of her daughters told her that touring the Eiffel Tower was on her bucket list since she had been waiting to see it “her whole life.” Yes, even 12 year olds have wanderlust bucket lists!
Traveling with teenagers can be deeply rewarding, you just have to make a few travel adjustments along the way.
If you have other tips for traveling with tweens or teens, we’d love to hear them! Share them with us on the Southern Travel Agency Facebook Page.