18 tried and tested tips for vacations with teens

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We started our travelling when our daughters were younger, and many asked what we would do as they grew. So many people said it would be a great time for us to go off and do travelling by ourselves but travelling with teens was something that we wanted to experience.

So after many family trips, travel fails and magic moments, we decided to put these tried and tested tips for vacations with teens post together to help you have the confidence to get out there with your older travelling kids.

Our top tips for traveling with teenagers

Travelling with young adults has just as many issues as travelling with young children. We took our daughters on a 14-month trip from Australia through Asia and Europe.

This has taught us some ideas on how to keep them interactive and engaged while travelling long-term. All of these top tips for travelling with teens can be used on short or long-term family vacations.

wyld family travel in Berlin standing in front of the tv tower

Get Lag

If you’re travelling internationally, it can be a great experience to explore new places. The easiest thing is to over plan on the first few days, as you will really want to get going with site seeing.

But I say butt, jet lag can really take it out of you, especially if you’re travelling through multiple time zones.

Teens will need more sleep, so don’t be planning intensive activities like horseback riding, you’re better off with a stroll to a free admission museum that is five minutes away.

Get your travelling teens involved

This is the easiest one I think. Allow your kids to become involved in the planning process. Where you are going and what you are doing on your family holiday can really allow them to become engaged and excited about your family trip.

If you allow them to be involved you may also start to consider places that you may not have in the past through their thoughts and vision on what family vacations with teens should look like.

Document your teen travel

Gone are the days for the travel journal for younger teens, now there are so many social media apps that will allow teen travellers to document their travels if they are not into writing a journal. Help them out and be involved if they allow you to be.

Don’t always be on the go

Even as a mum who travels, I need at least a day to just chill, so your kids will need that too. I am guilty of trying to cram as much as I can when on our family vacations with teens.

There are days when you should just have a late breakfast in your hotel room and maybe just sit by the pool if that is what they would like to do. Many teens would love this idea, especially if you are staying at an all-inclusive resort.

a teenage girl on a balcony looking over Zurich. vacations with teens don't always need to be full of activities

Stay in hostels on your vacations with teens

We stay in hostels with our daughters on a regular basis. They are great for budget family travel but the best is that you can meet people from everywhere in the world. This is awesome for travelling teens.

While you may find it takes them a little longer to open up in a shared accommodation setting you may find that they are able to have a conversation with other travellers staying there.

This can really improve their moods, and it can also give you a break or someone else to chat to too. Maybe something to consider on your next vacation

*While we stay in hostels with our daughters and are happy to use the communal areas we are yet to stay in a dorm with our daughters. We normally have a family room. We can highly recommend the YHA and Meininger brands of hostels for families.

Family travel tip: The ultimate guide for staying in family-friendly hostels

Not sure what your teen will need on holiday? Click here to get all the top sellers for your travelling teens

Activities they enjoy – family vacation ideas

There is nothing worse than being dragged to 500 different activities that you absolutely cannot stand and this goes for any traveller.

Share it out and if there is something that you really think they will like then allow them to go and go with them.

Traveling with teens is rewarding when you just try to enjoy yourself no matter the situation.

*My husband and I visited a K-pop museum with the girls on our trip to South Korea. Neither of us was interested at all, but they absolutely loved it and had an amazing time.

A teenage girl in the mountains near Almaty Kazakhstan
Outdoor Adventures in Kazakhstan

Meet up with other families who vacation with teenagers

This is so much easier now than it was even a few years ago and there are so many families that travel with teenagers now. There are so many wonderful Facebook groups out there now that encourage families on the road to meet up.

You can do this in a mutually beneficial place and if it doesn’t work out that’s ok, you don’t have to be the best of friends but it may give your kids that bit of socialisation that they need.

*We have met numerous families on the road and normally have dinner, lunch or meet at a pool if there is one available. Set start and end times so that if you need to you have an out if you are just not feeling it.

Want some expert family travel advice? Read our guide on how to keep your kids social on a family vacation

Divide and conquer

If you are on vacations with teens as a family of 4 like we do this is really easy. One parent can take one child each and that’s great but what happens if you have a larger family?

You can still do this, it may just take longer with 3 or more kids. You may find it easier to try and pair activities with teens to the parent that enjoys them more, so then everyone is having a good time.

Make sure there is age-appropriate entertainment available

In hostels sometimes there are trivia nights planned or organised tours that your teen can go on. These are fantastic for them and if they are age-appropriate they can be wonderful for the whole family.

Making sure they also have downloaded books, movies and games is also a good idea if you are going on a longer-term trip. You really need to be prepared for times when there is no Wi-Fi too when you are on vacation with teens, so they have something to do in their free time that does not require internet access.

Wifi, wifi, wifi on your family vacation with teens

There is nothing worse than a teen who thinks they are separated, isolated and alone from whatever is going on at home. Teens will sometimes have multiple devices that need an internet connection.

If you are out of your home country, then you need to make sure that your travelling teen has data or there is an internet connection at your family accommodation, so they can feel connected to what is going on at home. In many ways good Wi-Fi is a must to make teens feel comfortable.

Traveling with teens – are you on your device?

Are you on your device? Think about the example of the type of family vacations with teens you are setting when you are on your device. Put it down and be in the moment like you expect your young adult to be.

Sometimes on vacations with teens, they need more screen time, sometimes they need less screen time. Discuss times when they can and can’t have their devices. Stick to these times as much as possible but remember you have to be flexible. And remember, set an example by being off your device.

Parents-get out of your comfort zone

Every family has different things they love and things that they don’t. I think as we grow older we become much more aware of the risk associated with nearly everything and as parents, we factor that into so many aspects of our family vacations with teens.

I’m not saying so crazy and throw caution to the wind but try some things that you would not normally have a go at. You are on holiday with teens and they will really appreciate you having a go at an activity you may not have had in the past. Vacations with teens are a chance to really let your hair down.

*I am not an overly out-there person but I absolutely had a go at so many things during our family gap year that I absolutely would not have done at home.

The girls are still reminding me of some of the things I did like drive a jet ski, go on a Bali swing, ride an ATV, race local kids through the park fountain in Almaty and join in dancing in the park in Beijing.

Go out, let them stay in

As your kids are older, this is the one thing that we love. We could go down to the hotel lobby or the hostel communal area and let them just chill in our room. To be honest, you do not need family time all the time.

We didn’t go a long way away but there were times they just wanted to stay in the room, put their headphones on and settle in.

We did have rules that they had to obey when we were away and they were happy to help us determine what they were.

  • Do not open the door to anyone
  • If they wanted to join us they messaged and we would meet them in the lift or the stairs
  • Do not answer the phone (if in a hotel)
  • No going silly in the room and making a heap of noise
  • We used a door stop that the girls would put under the door when we left for added safety

We preferred that they stayed in the room together rather than only one being there but at times our eldest daughter just needed time without her sister. Most of the time our youngest would join us for a little while and then we would take her up to the room. Don’t forget to read our travel essentials for teenagers article

Have a coffee/rest and let them explore

There is always a great cafe or pub on a good shopping strip where you can take the time to just sit together while they wander and have a shop. This is a great way for our travelling teens to have some freedom and to ease you into it too if you are visiting a foreign country.

It’s also a great way for you to have some time together when you have vacations with teens and debrief with each other as they have some time away from you as well.

2 people in the water at Lovina with snorkelling gear on
Teenagers have an exciting moment captured during snorkelling in Lovina, Bali

Start travelling with kids early

Many people think travelling with kids involves massive long-term travel to all of the most exotic family travel destinations all over the world. Let me tell you, it absolutely does not.

It absolutely can if that’s what your budget allows and that is what you want to do, but the beauty of travel is it can be so many different things to so many different people.

Start small start young but just start. It can be an overnight stay with a friend in a neighbouring town or with a family member.

It can be a tent in the backyard or a cabin a couple of hours away, vacations with teens can be many different styles. Do what you want to do, and travel the way you need to make memories with your kids. Just start and keep going.

Give them some financial responsibility

One thing that is an awesome world schooling lesson is giving your teens who travel some financial freedom when you are on your family vacation.

You can do this in so many different ways, but one we found brilliant in Asia (and may work easily for food courts in Europe or the US) is to give them a certain amount of money for dinner or lunch and allow them to choose what they want.

Not only do they have to work within the budget it is giving them the freedom to choose what they have and if they are under budget they keep the money. Most teens can certainly do with learning money management.

Another option is to give them a Wise money card that comes with the option of loading multiple currencies, which is fantastic when you are on family vacations with older kids.

Get a hotel with a buffet breakfast included

This might sound like a really strange family travel tip but it works! There were so many times we could sit down for breakfast on our family vacations with teens and have one of us not happy with the menu. That was after we had actually found a place we had all agreed on.

With a buffet breakfast, there is always something that everyone will eat. It takes away the stress of finding a place you all like and one that fits your budget. You can sit to enjoy a meal, have some family time, and then start the day on the best foot.

*Having a free breakfast doesn’t stop you from going out and finding a place for lunch or dinner during your family holiday with teens.

Location, location, location!

Make sure you pick a central location for your family vacation with teens. There’s nothing worse than having to what feels like endlessly walk everywhere to get anything.

The more central you are to places, the more responsibility you can give to your teens. Teens love that sense of independence.

If you are in an apartment they may be able to go on an easy walk and pick up supplies for breakfast in the morning or for dinner at night.

Get your older teens to make a quick run to the supermarket for you if you are having a lazy day. These are all amazing ways to help your young adults on holiday get some sense of independence.

Elsa it…and let it go, Taylor it…and shake it off

Just sing the song….let it go. There are going to be days that you think will never end and question why you came on the family trip in the first place but do yourself a favour and LET IT GO.

You have these days at home and you will have them on vacations with teens as well. You will cause yourself more stress if you just can’t Taylor it…and shake it off!

2 teenagers lounging in a hostel
Relax with your teenager at YHA Phillip Island

Talk to them

This is our biggest and best tip for family travel with teenagers. Talk to your kids about whatever they want. Vacationing with teens can be the perfect time to discover who they are and what they like.

When you are on a family vacation with teens you have the time to sit and just listen and this may be the time when your teen is comfortable enough with you to have talks that they may have not wanted to in the past.

As you can see there are so many things to consider when you are planning a family holiday with teens. Basically, from our travelling with teenagers experiences, it does come down to our perception of the perfect holiday with teens. We think it should be one way and perfect but this can lead to too many expectations and we all know they are rarely met.

As parents we want the best holiday filled with fun moments, and epic stories to pass down on to the next generation perfect photos that are insta worthy but maybe just maybe aim for having a week when you can just be together, get along and leave the expectations at home.

We hope this post from us here at Wyld Family Travel has given you some sound advice and a few tips for the best vacations with teens. At times your family vacation with teenagers may not go to plan at all but there are issues even if you are at home.

We know because we vacation with teens and tweens: Looking for first-hand travel with teen’s experiences from all over the world? Need expert travel with teenagers tips for planning a holiday with young adults? Our detailed, travel with teens destination guides will help you plan epic vacations with teens that will be perfect for the whole family.

More inspiration for family vacations with teens