Once your children become teens their views on your much-loved family holidays can alter. Some are happy to carry on sharing family trips, others want their independence. Maybe your plans are ‘boring’, there’ll be ‘nothing to do’ and they’d ‘rather stay at home’. But it needn’t be like that. With some careful planning you can have some of your best holidays ever with your teens.
How to plan a holiday with teenagers
This is a sponsored post in association with Green World Holidays.
Plan your holiday together
Ask for your teens’ input from the very start of your holiday planning. Don’t be dismayed if they shrug and put their earbuds back in when you first broach the subject, but persevere and get their opinions. They may not agree with everything you suggest, but they’ll be less likely to fall back on the old ‘ but I didn’t want to come anyway’ argument if they’ve been part of the decision process.
Right at the start be clear about everyone’s ambitions for the trip. Parents might long for a villa and pool in the Tuscan countryside but that could spell boredom for teen daughters who’d prefer city shopping. If you know this in advance you can save the remote farmhouse for another time, search for a villa close to a lively town and plan some appropriate outings too. Florence for instance, is a city that’ll keep both parents and teens happy and the wonderful designer fashion outlets on the outskirts will satisfy everyone’s shopping bug. Try here for a guide to outlet shopping in Tuscany.
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Next step is to book accommodation. Self-catering has the advantages of extra space for lounging and privacy and a kitchen to whip up meals and snacks. On the other hand a hotel in the centre of a city can give your teens the opportunities for more independence and bring benefits like a heated pool and a gym. Chat together about what might work best. If your teens are willing ask them to help you search online on travel websites or AirBnB.
Get active everyday
Your teens may have grown out of sandcastles but beach holidays can still have lots to offer if you choose the right one. Outdoor activities are a great way to let off steam and counter boredom and a holiday can be a chance to learn a new skill like surfing, kayaking or scuba-diving.
Tourist boards will guide you to the stretches of coast that are best for water sports and as a bonus you’re likely to find other families with teens there too. eg. Visit Cornwall
For an urban break, pick a city with lots on offer. Lisbon here, and Barcelona here have beach life as well as culture and shopping. New York has enough energy and glamour to please most teens: here for more inspiration.
You don’t have to be a museum’y family to have fun in a city these days. Consider splurging on a treat like a thrill-packed speedboat sightseeing tour. Research the best markets for street food or vintage stalls. If I’m heading to a city with my teen boys we’ll factor in a football match or stadium visits. Other friends have planned city trips to coincide with theatre trips, concerts or music festivals.
Constant pavement bashing can be tedious for everyone, but a guided walk with a theme such as street art or ghosts, might be more appealing for your teens. Cycle tours are also a good way to get to know a city, though check the route in advance to find out how much traffic is involved.
Local city tourism websites like this one for London are a great source of info and inspiration when you’re doing your pre-trip research.
Let them take control
Before you know it your teens will be heading off with a backpack and a bunch of friends on an epic post-exam trip. To save you sleepless nights when that happens now is the perfect opportunity for them to get used to taking the lead.
My boys are now faster than me at whisking through airports and figuring out local transport maps and timetables. As digital natives their expertise comes in very handy. But they can also navigate roads and cities with paper maps if they have to.
When out and about in a city we’ll all take a view on which street food stall is likely to be ok and which one looks like a no-no. The same applies to restaurants. And teens who are aware of street scams, rip-off stalls and pickpockets may spot risks before you do.
This is also a key time for them to learn to be street savvy about carrying valuables and using bank cards safely. And at last they can manage their own suncream, insect repellent – and of course, suitcase – on their own!
Give them some space
Younger children will happily spend every moment of a holiday with you. Teens won’t. A proper holiday in your teen’s eyes could include a lie-in until lunchtime – especially if Mum’s planning a museum visit. You might think it’s a morning wasted but for them it’s a break from you (sorry) and valuable re-charging time.
Ever since the boys have been old enough to be left on their own, or go off exploring, we’ve factored in some independent time, as long as it’s safe to do so. The bonus of this is that we’ve stories to share when we meet up for the next meal.
Don’t forget the wi-fi
“ I need a digital detox,” said no teen ever. As they gain independence from their families, teens rely more on their friends. From a teen’s point of view, leaving their tribe behind is an obvious reason to stay in touch digitally.
We put free wi-fi high on the list of priorities when we’re planning a trip. It doesn’t mean it’s ok to spend hours a day on a phone but it makes it easy to check in with friends during downtime.
Bring a friend
Teens are naturally spreading their wings and don’t want to do everything with Mum or Dad. So can you take a friend or two on holiday as well? It may involve some shuttling back and forth but that can be a small price to pay. Having company to share their holiday exploits might be all that’s needed to keep your teens happy. We’ve also joined forces with family friends which gives adults a chance to spend time together too.
Try an activity holiday for families with teens
Some travel companies like Green World Holidays offer trips especially for parents with teenagers. We haven’t tried their Croatia Family Activity Holiday package but it certainly ticks the boxes:
Planning The holiday is based in Podstrana, a coastal town close to Split. Departure dates are geared to school holidays and the agents do their best to age match teens in the groups. Families stay together in self-catering apartments close to the beach and share the daily activities. The guides keep energy levels up and everyone focused.
Action The Green World guides lead the families on adventures including sea-kayaking, rafting, canyoning and tubing. For the rest of the day there’s the Dalmatia coastline to explore with pretty beaches and rugged mountains and gorges.
Taking control This is an opportunity for everyone in the family to rise to a new challenge. In fact teens may handle some of the activities better than their parents. It’s a bonding experience to tackle adventures and have fun together in a beautiful environment.
Space After the thrills and spills of each day’s group outing there’s time to take things easy. Families can chill by the pool or wander down to the beach. Teens quickly make friends and often hang out together. There’s privacy if required as families can cook at home or eat out at local restaurants. The group gets together for meals on the first and final evenings.
Wi-Fi Of course! There’s wi-fi in the apartments and by the pool.
Friends Maria from Green World Holidays says that both teens and parents make friends easily on the trip. It’s a good way for sporty families to enjoy a mix of action and relaxation with a like-minded crowd.
Plan a Holiday with Teenagers
For more information about Green World Holidays visit their website here
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Have you any tips to share for happy holidays with teens? Let us know in the comments below.