A vacation with tweens and teens — a notoriously challenging age — can be an important moment in cultivating your relationship with your children as they move toward adulthood. While bickering over curfews or screen time might be the norm at home, a getaway is just that: a chance to get away from the day-to-day drama and bond over fun experiences and new cultures.
Be sure to involve your tween or teen in the vacation planning process. This helps build enthusiasm for the trip and keeps the eye rolling to a minimum. Once you’re on the ground in your chosen destination, keep them engaged by asking them to help navigate public transportation or order off a foreign menu. If there’s one thing we know teens appreciate, it’s feeling like they’re in control.
Resorts with dedicated programming for older children can be hard to find, but we’ve scouted out great properties around the world who cater to this tricky age in appropriate ways. Even if your tween or teen doesn’t want to participate in organized activities with other kids, consider identifying lodging options with a game room or teen lounge (or at the very least, their own bedroom) so that they have a place to hang out without Mom, Dad and younger siblings bugging them.
Booking a few special activities is key with this age. We’ve helped clients arrange all kinds of memorable experiences with their tweens and teens on vacation, like public art walks with real graffiti artists, tickets to major sporting events and street photography lessons to perfect their Instagram feed. Older children also love active experiences like bike tours, rafting voyages or Segway rides.
Some of our favorite vacation destinations with tweens and teens include:
This country works particularly well for a vacation with tweens and teens for a few reasons. One, the late-night culture here means families are often sitting down to dinner at 9 p.m. or later, which is challenging for younger children but appealing to older ones. Two, the iconic activities ooze fun and gets teens out of their comfort zone, like flamenco lessons or tapas sampling. Finally, it’s a chance for them to practice the foreign language skills they may be working on at school. (France and Germany work similarly well for teens studying French and German, respectively.)
If your child’s interests seem to revolve around their phone, book a trip to Japan, where emerging technology is all the rage. Mix up the modern appeal of Tokyo with time in places where the ancient culture is more enticing, like Kyoto. And since tweens and teens typically have voracious appetites, families love the unique dining options here, like sushi conveyor belts and local noodle shops.
By this age, many children are developing a specific interest in wildlife, especially exotic species. The Galapagos Islands are an incredible place to cultivate this, and tweens and teens are at a great age to enjoy the small-ship cruises with a mature atmosphere that are common here. Mix up talks with naturalists and scientists with water sports each day to keep the trip feeling fresh.
Even the most sour teenage attitude can be corrected with trip to paradise. Our top pro tip when taking a Hawaiia vacation with tweens or teens is to splurge on a private surf lesson. Hanging ten on epic waves is the epitome of cool, and they’ll be so grateful afterward that you may be able to talk them into family pictures in matching leis for the holiday card.
It’s hard to imagine a more exotic cultural immersion experience for tweens and teens than a vacation to Africa. Hop aboard a Jeep tour to find the Big Five, and lend the kids your fanciest camera lens to see what kind of amazing vacation photos they can capture. Spend an evening around the fire watching local tribes cook and dance. It’s an experience so profound that you’ll feel grateful your child is old enough to appreciate the moment.
A ski getaway has long been a favorite vacation for families with older children, and for good reason. The physical challenge of difficult runs is great for thrill-seeking tweens and teens; combined with the safety that ski resorts offer, it gives them independence and a chance to explore on their own.
Not only are tweens and teens better equipped to handle the long-haul flight for a vacation to Australia, but the swap in seasons means this destination works well for families for whom U.S. summer trips are too challenging (summer jobs or sports schedules, for example). It’s also a great age for scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, trekking around the Outback or climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Once kids are old enough for phones and social media, it won’t take long until they discover that the Greek Islands are an aspiring Instagrammer’s top destination for vacation pics. And parents love that they can mix in historical lessons at spots like Athens and Crete in the very cradle of Western civilization, along with modern pursuits like yacht charters or movie set tours.
With thoughtful planning and the expertise of our seasoned advisors who know how to cater to each age and interest, families often find that a vacation with tweens and teens is more enjoyable than they’d imagined. You may discover that your kids have left the attitude at home and instead filled their suitcases with a sense of adventure.
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