So how exactly can we make the most of family holidays with older kids? Travelling with teenagers can absolutely be an exciting and rewarding experience, offering families a chance to create lasting memories together. But knowing our kiddos, it also comes with its own big set of challenges. Our teens all have distinct interests and needs and ensuring that everyone in the family has a memorable vacation can sometimes be a true balancing act. To help you make the most of your family holidays with some older kids in tow, we’ve gathered some teen-tested travel tips for a – hopefully! – smoother and more enjoyable adventure for all.
First Things First: Communication
That really sounds like the go-to solution for everything, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it very much always is. Whatever you do, you should always start by involving your teenagers in the trip-planning process. Give them a say in choosing the destination, activities, and even the itinerary. When they have a role in planning, they are more likely to be invested in the trip and excited about the experience – because their voices got heard and it’s something everyone agreed upon, instead of it just being brought upon them. In the same breath, it’s important that you encourage them to openly express their opinions, concerns, and interests – and take that feedback seriously. It not only creates a sense of involvement and ensures that everyone’s needs are considered, but it also creates a much-needed platform of trust and equality. If your teens have specific interests – such as music, art, sports or similar, find ways together to incorporate those into the trip!
Create a Balance between Adventure and Relaxation
Teenagers have, to no one’s surprise, often a surplus of energy that we as adults no longer have – and may be incredibly eager to embark on a lot of adventure-filled family holiday activities. Make sure to plan a good mix of active pursuits and relaxation time, to ensure that everyone in the family really gets what they need from the vacation. Some days can be devoted to hiking, water sports, or exploring – while others can focus on unwinding by the pool or beach. And: not every activity has to be shared! Teenagers crave independence, so be ready to provide them with opportunities for them to explore on their own or with their peers. Depending on the destination, this could mean allowing them to go on short excursions, shop at local markets – or even do one of the adventurous water activities, that might be just a tad too scary for you. In the end, it also comes down to being adaptable. Not that we aren’t every single day of our lives as parents – but not every moment of the trip needs to be planned to the minute. Instead, allow for spontaneity and flexibility, so you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities and changes in plans.
Set the Right Amount of Expectations
It’s important to discuss what everyone hopes to get out of the trip – as setting realistic expectations is key. Understand that teenagers may have wildly different interests than younger children or adults in the family – which will lead to varied preferences for activities and downtime. You won’t reach an absolute consensus – and you won’t have to, as long as you’re all on the same page about that fact. Talk about the usage of technology on the trip and emphasise the importance of being present and engaged in the moment, to create genuine and shared experiences. But at the same time, know that your teens, being digital natives, have a whole different relationship with their smartphones and tablets than we have. And please don’t forget the need for personal space. The older they get, the more privacy our kids need – and that holds especially true when they reach their adolescence. Ideally, book accommodations that offer separate rooms or adjoining suites – so everyone has their own area to relax and unwind.
And just with these few cornerstones, creating a memorable family holiday that everyone will cherish is only a small step away. The key is to embrace the uniqueness of this stage in your children’s lives. We’ve all been there, and it’s been some tough and intense few years. By tailoring the trip to suit their evolving interests and desires though, you can make the most of family holidays with older kids – creating cherished memories for years to come.