10 travel tips and ideas for successful trips with teenagers
Family sightseeing in Spain — Photo courtesy of E+ / Imgorthand
Traveling with teenagers can be difficult. Not because hormones and moods fluctuate from minute to minute (although, admittedly, the odds are high), but because at this stage of life, their interests and level of maturity change rapidly. . Which is why, as the parent of a curious 15-year-old, I gave a lot of consideration when planning a recent trip to VOMO Island Resort in Fiji.
If you have a potentially surly, eye-rolling teenager, here are 10 travel tips and recommendations you might want to keep in mind when planning your next family getaway.
#1: Know your child and their interests
Start of the traditional Fijian lovo demonstration at VOMO Island Resort — Photo courtesy of Wendy O’Dea
The first consideration – or advice, if you will – is this: Plan for your child’s interests, not just your own.
“15 to 18 year olds can be tricky,” VOMO CEO Justin King said shortly after arriving on the island paradise. “We want them out, so we tailor the activities to their preferences,” he said, noting that the resort’s children’s activities manager will do a deep dive with each family, either ahead of time or later. ‘arrival. “It takes work,” King adds, “because it’s really about getting to know the teenager. But it sure pays off. »
There’s an awesome variety of activities for teens at VOMO, including a cool “Survivor Challenge” that develops participants’ survival skills (mimicking some of those in “Survivor,” now filmed exclusively in Fiji). The resort also organizes creative experiences such as traditional dance classes and cooking classes.
Although my daughter’s usual holiday routine involves lots of reading and relaxing, VOMO managed to get her snorkeling and enthusiastically participating in tours, demonstrations and indigenous Fijian ceremonies and traditions. I knew VOMO’s approach was paying off when she randomly blurted out “I feel like this is one of those trips that changes the course of your life.”
VOMO is just one of many resorts and destinations that offer activities suitable for older children. There are also a number of tour operators that organize trips for families with teenagers.
#2: Don’t stay too long
If your teen gets upset or easily bored, consider booking a few short breaks rather than a long trip, as an adult might prefer. For example, the four-day “WILDchild Eco-guide Challenge” with &Beyond Private Game Reserve in South Africa is an action-packed four-day adventure designed to challenge and educate nature-loving teenagers (14-18) and their parents.
Held at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, the challenge invites teens to join the conservation team for activities such as a rhino conservation experience and tracking the elusive pangolin. They can also enjoy bush walks, Zulu drumming, basic astronomy lessons and high five game drives. Sign us up.
No. 3: Give them some freedom
Unique and interactive activities for teens at Club Med — Photo courtesy of Club Med
There aren’t many destinations where teens can learn to swing on a trapeze, learn to DJ, or explore film design, but Club Med offers all of these activities and more at select locations around the world. worldwide. Because all-inclusive Club Med resorts are self-contained, teens can enjoy more unstructured freedom to choose what they want to do when and with whom. They’re far, but not too far – and that’s good for the parents too.
#4: Variety, Variety, Variety
European River Cruise with Adventures by Disney — Photo courtesy of Adventures by Disney
Choosing an excursion or destination that offers variety can be beneficial if you have a teenager who doesn’t need a lot of downtime. Adventures by Disney, a Disney subsidiary, offers river cruises with multiple excursion options at each port. However, unlike a Disney cruise, their European river cruises, along the Rhine and Danube, are light on the “Disney-fying” experience and deeply rooted in local culture and traditions. Think of it as “Disney Light” with plenty of choices at every stop.
No. 5: Organize a tailor-made trip for your family
Package tour with Abercrombie & Kent — Photo courtesy of Abercrombie & Kent
If your teen is hard to please or you’re struggling to find the right destination for your family, consider partnering with a travel company that can arrange a trip that suits your interests, if you can afford it. Abercrombie & Kent, for example, will find out what interests you and your teens most and do all the planning for you. This includes choosing a destination, finding accommodations, and booking memorable authentic encounters that fit their educational and immersive philosophy.
#6: Find something that’s “dietally flexible”
If you have a teenager who is “hungry” but very fussy, or hungry all the time, consider a large cruise ship vacation. These ships offer an incredible selection of restaurants and menu options that will appeal to both finicky family members and discerning foodies. And, whether it’s a blessing or a curse, there’s food available 24/7.
Given the number of ship and destination options and the breadth of activities on offer, cruises are also a great option when you want to be together, but not all the time. If you’re not interested in the high seas, look for other all-inclusive properties that offer culinary options the whole family will enjoy.
No. 7: Let them sleep
Unlocking the privacy door at Savasi Island Resort — Photo courtesy of Wendy O’Dea
It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to over-plan trying to cram in as much as possible. Instead of planning early morning activities, set aside time to let teens sleep and consider booking accommodation that gives them personal space. My daughter’s favorite hotel on our recent trip to Vanua Levu in Fiji was the Savasi Island Resort where she had a separate bedroom and bathroom with her own entrance just across the porch from our villa. Knowing that our villa was secure, this personal space was a gift for both of us.
#8: Keep Them Active
Teenagers participate in the high ropes course — Photo courtesy of The Resort at Paws Up
For active teens who need a break from sitting in class day after day, look for a destination that offers a little different activities. The Resort at Paws Up is a luxury ranch in Montana with ATV tours, fly fishing, electric bike tours, sports fields, go-karts and more. They also have wilderness programs, such as “Gettin’ Primitive”, which teaches primitive outdoor skills.
Teens who want to get out of their comfort zone can navigate a ropes course nestled in the forest and challenge participants to maneuver across 10 raised platforms, complete with rickety bridges. As their website says, “You only have 18 summers with your kids, so make them count.”
N°9: Stimulate their brain
As a parent of an intellectually active teenager, it’s essential that I plan trips that involve culture and learning instead of relaxing beach or pool vacations. A number of companies offer tours for cerebral teens, including Smithsonian Journeys. In partnership with Putney Student Travel, this tour operator runs summer travel programs for eighth through twelfth graders as part of their Student Travel division.
These immersive programs offer teens the opportunity to explore and be inspired through unique experiences developed around a specific theme. In the past, themes have included a trip to Iceland to learn about climate change and a visit to Washington, DC to explore the history of race and social justice in America.
#10: Expose them to something they can’t find at home
Breaking the routine at Blackwater Creek Ranch — Photo courtesy of Blackwater Creek Ranch
Ideally, traveling with teenagers will broaden their view of the world by exposing them to experiences they won’t find closer to home. International travel is great for this, but for those who don’t have the means (or interest) to travel overseas, there are plenty of options in the US as well.
A visit to a dude ranch might not sound appealing to every teen, but getting them away from their devices for a life in the outdoors can transform their outlook. Blackwater Creek, Wyoming not only offers horseback riding, rafting, and fly fishing, but also lets you step back in time with tours of Old Town Trail in Cody. They’ll have plenty of stories to share with their friends back home after a trip to the River Saloon where Butch Cassidy and his gang planned more than one bank robbery.