9 easy ways to keep teens social while travelling long term

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Many parents stress about the amount of social interaction their children will get while they are travelling long-term, whether at home or abroad. This is a worry for everyone, even the kids. So, what are the best ways to keep teens social while travelling long term?

It was a discussion that came up many times in the lead-up to our 12-month adventure with our 2 daughters, who were 13 and 10, when we left Australia to travel through Europe and Asia.

Keeping teens social while travelling

It led to many online searches, many more conversations, and, most of all, talks with our kids about how they wanted to maintain relationships at home.

It also led me to talk with some parents about what they were comfortable with their children doing online so they could stay in touch as well. It was a hard conversation to have with some people as the levels of screen time they are used to differ a lot, as does the amount of time they allow on a daily basis.

We have been very fortunate that our friends who travel with teenagers have been awesome with contacting our girls. Here are some ways we have encouraged them to keep in touch with home and to make friends on the road.

Emailing their class back at home

This was more important for our younger daughter than our eldest one. Having a class assigned to her even though she would not be there for the year and one to keep in contact with has helped her a lot.

We spoke with both of our daughter’s schools about keeping teens social while travelling at the end of the year as we were leaving before the start of school the next year, so she was included in a class for the following year. She did the transition classes with the new group at the end of the year (In Australia we have a long holiday over Christmas time and start back in late January).

I think it will also help when she has to return to school as her classmates will remember her and her transition may not be as hard.

Keeping teens social while travelling can be hard for them and their parents. Here there are 3 teens girls standing on the Great Wall of China on a cloudy day

We encouraged her to write and email her class about what she was doing and where we were going. She would then receive a reply from her class, and they would track her trip on a map in the classroom. It also kept her up to date with the happenings around the school.

Hanging out by the pool

I was once told that if you look like you are having fun, people will want to join in, and that is what we encouraged the girls to do at the pool in the places we have stayed. We have found that many kids, even if they don’t speak the same language, will come over and want to join in with what they are doing.

in the pool in bandung

All the kids then have a great time, and new friends are made. We found this when we met a family in Langkawi and then saw them again in Krabi and Vang Vieng. The kids had a great time and are now chatting on social media frequently. It is a brilliant way to keep teens social while travelling.

If there is no pool, most places will have some area for games or the like. We would always seek them out and found that hostels were brilliant places for them to interact with other people. They weren’t always kidding about their ages, but having discussions with people from all over the world was also a great learning experience.

Travel with teens expert advice: Want to know why we stay in hostels with our kids?

Playing online games with friends

This was a tricky one as there are so many games out there that have people other than young kids in them. It was decided that a Facebook message between myself and the other parent would be sent so that the kids could chat over the game and coordinate what they were going to do within the game.

Relaxing on the mekong

At any stage, if something went wrong, we would be there to watch over the conversation and moderate any other happenings that were not between the kids. It’s also a good idea to use a secure VPN when connecting to the internet since kids are a regular target of hackers trying to get them to click on malicious links​.

*This is also a great opening conversation about what is appropriate on the net and what is not between you and your teens. We found out from our kids many things that go on, and they found out some stuff from us, too. It also helped them identify what was appropriate and what was not.

Using Facebook Messenger to stay in touch

We found a great way to keep teens social while travelling and help them to stay in touch via Facebook Messenger. It was fantastic that the kids could call or video chat with anyone they were missing at home. This included our family members and our friends.

If we did not have their friend’s parents on there, we could request a friend, and they could chat that way.

Having a face-to-face conversation was fantastic, and to hear them laugh about what was going on at home was brilliant. They can use a Facebook post template to share scrapbook-like memories over Messenger.

This also puts many other parents at ease about how much time their children spend on the internet. Both parties easily monitor it.

* The only problem with this was time zones. It took our youngest a little while to work out when was a good time to call and when wasn’t.

Read more: Use our 18 tried and tested tips to make your vacations with teens easy and hassle-free

Finding other travel families and meeting up

There are so many travelling families around the world now that you are sure to find one in the city you are visiting, and this is absolutely the best way for keeping teens social while travelling anywhere.

Hanoi at night

Many world school and home school groups also have meetups where they get together so the kids can have some time and meet new kids. If you can, join some groups and follow some pages of families you know are travelling. It can never hurt to ask if they are free, and you might make some lifelong friends simultaneously. Connecting with these families is one of the best ways to keep teens social while travelling long-term.

Going to the park

One of the best ways for keeping teens social while travelling is the same as the pool. If you have time, find the local park and get down there to have some fun. There are always a heap of kids running around, and there is sure to be one kid who wants a chat.

Almaty park

Find places that offer kids activities in the cities you visit

One thing that we never considered was finding a museum or historic site that had a developed kids activity offered while you visited.

We found this a few times with places we went, and when the girls were asked to join in, they jumped at the chance. Most of the time, there was another family or group of kids that were doing the same activity, and they would eventually end up helping each other out.

Find the kid’s area at the Airport

Outside playgrounds are a great way to keep teens social while travelling, but so are those indoors. Almost every bored teen has a just as bored sibling, and they are generally located at the activity centre at the airport. Even if they need a run around for the tween or younger teens of the group, it can provide even a tiny amount of time with someone their age.

Travel with teens: I’m not sure what all the travel with teens essentials is. Read our complete guide right here!

Find a dedicated kid’s activity or museum

In many cities, you will find a dedicated museum or kids’ learning centre (like the Deutsche Museum in Munich, the Kidzania Franchise, or the Pompidou in Paris) where parents take their kids for a hands-on experience. Here, you will also find many other parents who are keeping teens social while travelling.

These places are also great for kids to go as they are designed to keep them happy and learning at the same time.

Are you worried about screen time when travelling with teens?

Many parents worry about how much time their kids spend on devices. This is something I was worried about, too, before we started our long-term family vacation.

I must admit I have been a bit lax in that they probably spend too much time on them now, but they have made some great contacts and kept some.

The time difference had been a problem in some countries, so they have not had the opportunities to chat as much with friends as they would have liked. it has resulted in a few extra calls to get all the chatting over and done with.

I wasn’t too keen on this at the start, but I did have to realise that at some points, I got lonely, and my kids probably did, too.

wyld family travel in Paris

Having a family gap year has been one of the best things we have ever done, but at the same time, we have believed that at some point, we would have to go home to resume normal life, and the girls would have to go back to school. We did all of these to make sure their transition from travelling full time to a home life routine would be as smooth as possible.

We hope this post from us here at Wyld Family Travel has helped you with ideas on keeping teens social while travelling. Keeping teens social while travelling is an important aspect of any family vacation and keeps teens interested in travel.

Travelling with older kids has just as many issues as travelling with younger kids. Choosing the best teenage vacation destinations can be so time-consuming. Use our Travel with Teenagers Destination Guides from all over the world for your next family vacation inspiration to make your family vacations with teens epic.

More travel inspiration for your next trip

Rebecca Wyld


Content Creator/SEO Editor

Co-founder and SEO editor here at Wyld Family Travel. Bec has travelled to over 45 countries across 3 continents and is a journey with kids advocate. When Bec is not planning travel, she creates content for our family travel blog or does local community service work. You can find all of Bec’s detailed travel guides here on Wyld Family Travel and on other popular websites such as Lonely Planet.