10 Tips for Successful Travel with Your Teens

These are tried and true ways to rock travel with teens in tow.

Oh. My. Gawd. Seriously. Mom. Stop. Stop it.

Eyes roll. Shoulders shrug. Backs turn. Feet shuffle. A few paces away. I do not know you. I am not related to you. Maybe even hoodies pull a little lower over faces. Or beanies down. Heads definitively away. Buried in phones perchance? Anything to disassociate themselves. From YOU.

Traveling? With teens in tow? Ever felt like you are suddenly the most embarrassing person on the planet to your teens? Uh. Every day. Oh! You too? Welcome to the club. It’s fun here. Especially when you put teens in a situation that takes them ever so slightly outside of their fragile comfort zone. Immediately that propensity by parents to perpetuate gross affronts escalates. Like instantaneously. Upon landing. (Sometimes even while you are still in the air getting there.) Anytime you maneuver your offspring outside your bubble, there is potential to exasperate. Both you. And your teen.

BEEN THERE DONE THAT

Stop trying to speak the language mom. Stop pretending that you know where you are. Stop taking pictures of me. I mean it. STOP. NOW. Stop telling everybody everything about us. I just told them we live in Denmark, not our social security numbers. MOM. They don’t care.

Um. But I do. I’m engaging here. Interacting with the locals. They asked anyway. And they can decide if they don’t want to make small talk with me by their own selves. Just like you. My dear teen.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not always like that. But it definitely has been. On occasion. Or two. Or more. Who’s counting? Not me. But here’s my math. (Maths if you’re British.) Currently living under my roof are two full-fledged teenagers and one trying to keep up full blooded tween. I will have a good five to six years in this zone with all three smack in the middle of this age group. And a good five years after that until they’ve all graduated through teendom. Yay me! How ’bout dem apples.

(P.S. I love my teens. And my tween.)

REASONS TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR TEEnAGE CHILDREN

A million and one posts have been written advocating travel with your children. Start them young and I concur. It’s cheaper. They take up less room. They’re somewhat containable. They don’t have opinions yet. Terrible two’s don’t count. It’s a great time to travel with your littles. When they are just that… little. You know, soooo – by the time they are teens turning into young adults, they will be perfectly compliant, capable and confident traveling companions. Right? Wrong. Sorry.

Take your teens traveling and you can possibly exacerbate, irritate and otherwise aggravate your humans in their already volatile state. Those humans that you brought into your own hearth and home. Hormones are real people. Learning to navigate their effects while outside your comfort zone can be chaos. But for all the potential pouty faces, mood swings, general apathy and outright egregious offenses to their newly emerging independent identities – I’m here to tell you that traveling with teens can be amazing. I promise.

TASTE THE RAINBOW – TAKE YOUR TEENS TRAVELING

Teens are interested. (When you figure out what interests them.) And interesting. Truly. Teens have enough life under their belt to be able to make comparisons and understand contrasts. Teens are smart. They know things. They know A LOT OF THINGS. You don’t need to tell me mom. And when they share those things – when you let them – you both can learn.

Teens notice things. When you encourage them to look up from their screens. And it’s probably not the same things that you notice. It is fun seeing the world through their eyes. Through their filters. You, as the ever protective parent, will still be surveying the area like a ninja anticipating all potential threats, danger zones and subway gaps. They, on the other hand, will be the first to notice the cool guy with the colorful hair and anywhere that sells ice cream. Oh! Yeah. That is cool. I will continue to advocate travel with your potentially temperamental teen. But there are ways to make it easier. For you. And your teen.

TEN TIPS TO MAKE TRAVELING WITH YOUR TEEN AMAZING

I can assure that all of the following tips on how to enjoy traveling with your teen have been field tested. Thoroughly. We have experienced lots of trials. And errors. Every moment of every trip has not gone swimmingly. But that’s just life with a teen. And tweens, to be honest. It’s a gentle balance of lowering expectations while raising them at the same time. Let me explain.

1. Engage them in Travel planning

From the very beginning. Gone are the days that you can pick, plan and push your own agenda and expect perfect happy compliance. Believe me. I learned the hard way. Ask them where they would like to go. Make a list. A family travel wish list. Make sure to include potential activities that might interest them while in each location. Give them an idea of budget. More often teens have grandiose ideas of what travel means – being honest about costs can keep expectations in check. Let them suss out what costs what and then prioritize which activities hold highest interest. To them.

2. Keep them up to date on travel plans

Once settled in on a setting and some activities to pursue, keep them posted on what is happening when. If your teens are like mine, surprises can be upsetting. And they get a little suspicious. Wait, wait. Woah mom. Where are you taking us? Is this another one of your just one more block to see some old painting? Where are we going? Mom?! I hear that one a lot.

Let them know the plan for the next day and what is set and where there is wiggle room for improvising. I am not a scheduled person per se and travel with much more free flow without kids along. But I have found from first-hand experience that meandering seems meaningless to teens, without some sort of structure.

3. Balance between cultural and physical activities

My kids’ eyes start to glaze over when I mention the idea of stepping inside one more beautiful church. True story. I was literally told – after four days traipsing all over Rome, upon arriving in Florence – that I was allowed to take them to one church that day. One. OH, THE PRESSURE. (Side note – did I tell you I studied Italian Renaissance art at uni? I did? Then you understand how difficult that ultimatum was.) But I give. They give. It’s a balance. And just as I’m not interested in (or able to afford) ziplining through the jungle or scuba diving reefs every day, one church it is.

4. KEEP THEM FED

This seems simple. You’re a parent. You have always worried about providing well-balanced meals to help your children grow up healthy and strong. Don’t forget this on vacation. I’m serious. It’s easy to do. You get carried away with what to see, how to get there, what you are doing (having a great time of course because you have engaged your teens and kept them informed) that you forget to eat.

You are ok. You can handle it. Even if you feel a little famished, you don’t let it influence your perception of a place. But they do. Low blood sugar in hormonal teens is a very bad combination. Keep healthy snacks in the day pack to bridge gaps between meals. Everyone will be more receptive to that medieval castle’s display of gilt chalices that you are dying to get to. If they aren’t hungry. Don’t make your teen hangry. It’s not pretty.

5. Work With Their BiorHythms

Make sure they get enough sleep. My teens are notorious night owls. And they definitely sleep in. I programmed them well. From the beginning. Or maybe it’s genetic. Who me? *Wink, wink. But sleepy teens are about as much fun as hangry teens. Again. This seems straightforward, but if your teens naturally sleep in, don’t plan to take the first tour across town. Resistance. Push back. Humphing. Nobody likes humphing. Let them sleep. Go get a coffee with your partner, pick up some healthy snacks. Come back and then start the day. Less humphing. Usually.

6. Let them connect

Living in Copenhagen, my children all have phones. In Denmark, and Europe in general, children are afforded a greater independence and autonomy. My children make their way to school and activities on their own. I feel safer that they have a phone with them. With the phone comes social media applications. Kids want to connect. Let them. Not all the time while traveling. But give them some space and time to share their experiences with their friends.

When you are traveling together in close confines with the entire family jammed in a rental car or sharing a hotel room, that private space that teens crave can be lacking. Make sure your accommodations have wifi, or that you have a huge bank for data. Giving our teens some time each day to plug in and tune out or snap with friends seems to recharge everyone’s batteries.

7. Use technology to enhance travels

For teens who can’t live without the tether of their technology, give them a task. Download site specific apps and put them in charge. Many cities have apps that make public transportation tolerable. Download before you go and let them help with train routes.

Encourage them to search for what interests them and guide you to it when in town. Do you have a sneaker-head in your house? Have him look up where the local shops are and save them in Google Maps. (You can download specific areas to use offline.) Then let him take you on a tour to find them. We saw parts of Paris that I have never seen this way. He felt empowered. We enjoyed the enthusiasm.

8. Don’t ask for a selfie

But let them Snapchat away. They don’t want to associate with you – remember? This tip applies to photographing your teen anywhere in public in general. Nothing annoys my teens more than – hang on wait – let me get a picture of you guys! Wait, let those people leave, no, move over, stand this way, hang on, right…. THERE! In bodies that are changing and growing and taking up more space, being singled out and made to feel even more conspicuous as you attempt your perfect family Christmas card shot feel like their seventh layer of hell. If you have a selfie taker – lucky you! If you don’t – don’t force it.

9. Arm them with cultural information

Teens can feel conspicuous in their own skin. Bodies growing, voices changing, hormones raging. Taking them to a foreign country or even to a different state can make that feeling grow by a factor of ten. Blending in by understanding some background about where you’re headed will help. Give them a few phrases. Yes. No. Please. Thank you. Excuse me. Start there. Helping them respect the culture you’re visiting will make them feel more comfortable and open to experiencing.

10. Respect their perspective

Your teens aren’t you. They have opinions and feelings and approaches to life that you may not understand. I have three different approaches from my three different kids. What is deemed a parental offense by one, may not bother the other. Trying to be conscious of those differences is important. Challenging. But important.


Other Travel Bloggers with Teens Offer Their Tips
HILARY GUDGEL FROM HILARY STYLE ME

Hilary is a blogger currently living in Southern California with her two teen boys. She has taken them across Europe and Asia and has learned her own ways to engage them when traveling.

We all know teens can be a fickle bunch, so how do I get my 14-year-old to go with the program when traveling? Of course, every teen is different, and it changes by the hour, but here are a few of the tricks up my sleeve. Empower them! Give them the guidebook and ask them to choose three ideas that specifically interest them, then make sure to actually do one of them. Teens love their phones, ask them to use Yelp or other Internet tools to locate a good restaurant in the area, find out when the train is leaving or look up other information related to the day’s agenda. Visit somewhere related to their current studies! It’s always fun to be able to say, “Hey! I’ve been there!” when they return to school. When all else fails, appeal to their childish nature… Good Luck!

HILARY GUDGEL AND HER TEEN TRAVELER IN IRELAND | Hilary Style Me Blog
FIND Hilary on FacebookInstagram | Pinterest | Twitter

PHOEBE THOMAS FROM LOU MESSUGO BLOG

Phoebe has been traveling the world since she was 10 days old. Since then she has lived in 9 countries and traveled to 65. She has been taking her children along traveling since they were young and her 17-year-old has now been to 32 countries and her 11-year-old to 26. They have spent time on four continents and currently live in the Côte D’Azur, France.

Travelling with teenagers can be lots of fun, honestly, you just have to have the right expectations and work around their rhythms whenever possible/practicable, while taking into account the rest of the family too of course.

Here are some of the things we do in our family to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.  Take a friend!  Friends are so important to teens, way above family, that bringing along a friend if at all possible, changes everything (we do this a lot for day trips or weekend breaks).

Accept that the mobile phone will be omni-present and don’t fight it (too much!)

Try not to plan too much in any one day, allowing for down time in cafés with wifi, parks to lie in the sun etc.

Try not to have too many early starts – but when unavoidable accept that the teen will sleep on the tour bus/in the train and will not look out of the window marveling at the view but will therefore be on form for the actual visit/event later.

Allow independence, whether this means leaving the teen at the hotel/apartment for some time alone or letting them go to eat/shop without adults every so often.

Eat a lot! Teens are always hungry and get as grumpy as a toddler if not satiated.  Accept that you can go to less “authentic” restaurants every now and then such as a burger chain, don’t get hung up on always having to eat local.  After all eating MacDonalds on the Champs Elysée in Paris is an experience in itself even if it’s not one you’d ideally have!

Try and avoid queues – pay the extra for fast passes or research ahead of time the best way to avoid long lines as teens and waiting do not go well!  Remember it’s their holiday too and hopefully it’ll be a great success.

PHOEBE THOMAS’ TRAVELING TEENS IN VIETNAM | Lou Messugo
FIND PHOEBE ON FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TWITTER

CLARE THOMSON FROM SUITCASES AND SANDCASTLES

Clare is a former travel writer for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph in England. Although her adventures may no longer include backpacking for six months in India, she believes strongly that traveling and culture with kids can be fun. Her two boys are just entering the teen zone, but Clare realizes the importance of engaging them from the beginning when talking travel.

My tip for travelling with teens is to get them as involved as possible with the planning so that they feel included when choosing where to go and what to do. Get them to do their own research about your destination and ask them to suggest places they’d love to visit – whether it’s a tourist attraction, a restaurant or a specific shop. When you’re there, let them take control by guiding you to their chosen sights and explaining what’s so special about it.
Downtime is really important to teens so always factor in enough time for them to flop in your hotel or appartment before heading off on another family activity. And finally, try not to get too wound up when they revert to stroppy teen mode when they’re tired or hungry!”
CLARE THOMSON AND SON | Suitcases and Sandcastles
FIND CLARE ON FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TWITTER

HAVE TEENS WILL TRAVEL
MY TWEEN AND TEENS | Oregon Girl Around the World

I hope this list helps and encourages you to take your teens traveling. Been there done that? Have other ideas to engage and interest kids in this age group? I’d love to hear. Please share in the comments below!

Know someone who is about to tread in this teenagedom territory? Tell them about these tips.

 Pin for later!

Faraway Files #18

TRAVEL BLOG COMMUNITY

LET’S BUILD COMMUNITY

This week is vinterferie in Denmark; the Danish equivalent of half-term or winter break. We took our tween and teens to the City of Lights for a four-night city break. Paris. Ooh la la. I’m in love that they loved it. As much as I do. J’adore Paris.

And while we haven’t done the complete download of all our collective impressions (as we literally rolled in last night near midnight), I think the number one thing that struck my kids while wandering through Champs de Mars and Montmartre and Le Marais was the diversity that dominates the French capital. What a beautiful place. And maybe because it was Valentine’s Day, but we were feeling the love (most of the time – you do understand that I have teenagers right?). And while we may have been ready to be back in cozy Copenhagen in our own comfy beds, the colors and tastes and sights of Paris will linger on longer.

Did you go somewhere this week? Please share in the comments below – I’d to see how far flung the Faraway Files community flew off to this break. Maybe you’re still there? Oooh – do tell! I’m sharing a little Norwegian train ride from Oslo to the fjords.

FAVORITES WEEK #17

But first – I’d like to show a little love to these posts that caught my eye last link up. Missed them? Don’t worry – you can catch them right here on Oregon Girl Around the World.

Kate at Love From Scotland shared an idyllic get away from it all snuggle in with your favorites kind of place perfect for a Valentine’s respite. All of Kate’s posts about Scotland are gorgeous – but I really want to go to Loch Tay. To this cabin.

HIDING AWAY ON LOCH TAY | Love From Scotland

From Scotland to sunny California, Cindy from Piccolo Explorer took us to San Diego. From La Jolla to Balboa to Mission Beach and everywhere in between – it is southern California perfection.

SNAPSHOTS FROM SAN DIEGO | Piccolo Explorer

Maybe because I was in an all things French mood this week (c’est vrai!) but I loved this charming post about Aubterre-Sur-Dronne by Nell at Pigeon Pair and Me. Save this one for summer.

A TRIP TO AUBTERRE-SUR-DRONNE, CHARENTE, FRANCE | The Pigeon Pair and Me

And finally – Wilbur’s Travels share his continuing list of European capitals ranked from top to bottom. I picked Stockholm from this week’s list as it fika charmed us, as it will you.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN | MY EUROPEAN CAPITAL RANKING – 15 TO 11 | Wilbur’s Travels

So where to now?

FARAWAY FILES TRAVEL BLOG COMMUNITY LINKUP #18
WANT TO JOIN IN?

We’d love you to join us in building this supportive and growing community who will inspire and share each other’s posts. All three hosts will try to read and comment on every post and we’ll share them on social media too. Each week we’ll choose our favorites and highlight them on our blogs and social media channels using #FarawayFiles.

HOW IT WORKS:
  • Link up one travel-related post and add the Faraway Files badge onto the post or your blog (code below) or link back to the hosts.
  • The link up will go live every Thursday at 8 am UK time (9 am, CET) until midnight on Friday. It will alternate between Untold Morsels, Suitcases and Sandcastles, and Oregon Girl around the World.
  • Link ups work best if everyone shares so please comment on all three of the hosts’ posts and at least two others.
 
KATY IS HOSTING THIS WEEK | LINK UP AT UNTOLD MORSELS
TWEET US YOUR POSTS

(@suitandsand, @UntoldMorsels, @oregongirlworld) using the hashtag #FarawayFiles and we’ll retweet to our followers.

SHARE TRAVEL IMAGES ON INSTAGRAM

Tag @FarawayFiles and #FarawayFiles – and we’ll repost our favorites.


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Untold Morsels

Faraway Files #17

TRAVEL BLOG COMMUNITY

Let’s build communitY

We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship – we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”
– #weaccept, Airbnb

The above Airbnb advertisement aired this past Sunday on the largest screen available in the United States. It was played during the National Football League’s coverage of the Superbowl championship. And whether or not you are a fan of American football has nothing to do with the message that Airbnb continues to passionately endorse – that the world is a better place when we accept that our differences are part of what make us beautiful.

I concur.

Let’s share beautiful.

FAVORITES WEEK #16

There were so many beautiful posts linked up by our Faraway Files community last week. Missed them? Don’t worry – click here to catch up over on cohost Clare’s Suitcases and Sandcastles blog.

My personal favorites brought both beauty and a smile. I loved this post from Keri at Ladies What Travel about the fun street art in the George Town neighborhood of Penang, Malaysia. I adore how real objects are incorporated into the murals and create a true sense of joie de vivre for the area and its visitors. Hold on tight – it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

STREET ART IN GEORGE TOWN, PENANG | MALAYSIA | Ladies What Travel

Jonny from The Adventures of Daisy the Bus shared his family’s outing to the Open Air Museum near Amsterdam in The Netherlands. I adore the pure wonder on his daughter’s face as she learned to knit under the watchful attention of this volunteer Dutch gramma. In Denmark – we call that hygge.

THE NEDERLAND’S OPENLUCHT MUSEUM | The Adventures of Daisy the Bus

Jumping across the channel, we welcomed another Faraway Files newcomer – Jo from Where Jo Goes. I loved her post about lovely little Lacock in Wiltshire, England. Listen to me – like I know where Wiltshire is! Guaranteed – I looked it up posthaste after reading of its charm. A classic English village – put on a cuppa and take a look.

LACOCK, WILTSHIRE: TOP 5 THINGS TO DO | Where Jo Goes

And if you prefer your cup with something a little stronger – check out Curious Pixie’s things to do in Vegas to rock your trip. And while Sima can show you where to get a cocktail and how to maneuver a casino – she goes beyond and offers a balanced approach to Sin City with suggestions to see the Grand Canyon as well as the classic neon museum. I’m in love.

LAS VEGAS: 7 ABSOLUTE MUST DOS TO ROCK YOUR TRIP | The Curious Pixie

Where will you take us this week? Me? I can’t believe that it took me writing a post about why to take your kids to the Caribbean for it to finally snow in Copenhagen! The differences are both beautiful. #Weaccept.

FARAWAY FILES TRAVEL BLOG COMMUNITY LINKUP #14
WANT TO JOIN IN?

We’d love you to join us in building this supportive and growing community who will inspire and share each other’s posts. All three hosts will try to read and comment on every post and we’ll share them on social media too. Each week we’ll choose our favorites and highlight them on our blogs and social media channels using #FarawayFiles.

HOW IT WORKS:
  • Link up one travel-related post and add the Faraway Files badge onto the post or your blog (code below) or link back to the hosts.
  • The link up will go live every Thursday at 8 am UK time (9 am, CET) until midnight on Friday. It will alternate between Untold Morsels, Suitcases and Sandcastles, and Oregon Girl around the World.
  • Link ups work best if everyone shares so please comment on all three of the hosts’ posts and at least two others.
 
I’M HOSTING THIS WEEK |  OREGON GIRL AROUND THE WORLD
TWEET US YOUR POSTS

(@suitandsand, @UntoldMorsels, @oregongirlworld) using the hashtag #FarawayFiles and we’ll retweet to our followers.

SHARE TRAVEL IMAGES ON INSTAGRAM

Tag @FarawayFiles and #FarawayFiles – and we’ll repost our favorites.


WE’LL PIN YOUR LINKS

We are posting each week’s links on community Pinterest page – join in over there.


FIND US ON FACEBOOK

Find Faraway Files on Facebook. Like us. We’ll like your page. We’re friendly that way.

GRAB BADGE CODE HERE:
Oregon Girl Around the World
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