Whilst many teens would prefer a minor acne outbreak to spending times with the ‘olds’ in public, take them to an exotic location, somewhere that’s far outside their comfort zone and you’ll not only earn serious kudos as a parent, but create a situation ripe for serious family bonding, too.
“Holidays with teenagers is an opportunity for you to learn something together as a family, an experience that can put you on an equal footing, despite the age gap,” says Stubborn Mule traveller, Kerry, who recently returned from a Costa Rica family holiday with her two children aged 14 and 16.
According to your feedback, what that particular experience is, whether that’s wandering through a Moroccan souq, exploring the temples of Angor Wat or Bagan, hanging out at a hip hotel or white water rafting in Nepal, doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as the fact that you’re encountering them together.
“Teenagers can get a bad rap, but we didn’t recognise the moody, grudging stereotype at all,” said Richard Harris, who, while his wife was working, trekked with his two teenage sons in Nepal last year.
When we asked him about his trip, he said: “Tom and Ollie loved every second and we came back a stronger family unit for it. Sure, it was tough at times, the trekking could be a little challenging and there were the occasional whinges, but overall, we laughed together more than we have in years, we got fit together rather than just lounge by a pool and as a consequence now have memories that we’ll treasure for a lifetime.”[See our trekking blog for the low down on the best family trekking holidays or read more about Nepal family holidays]
A plea we here often hear from parents when researching a trip, is, ‘I just want to get them away from their iPad.’
Whilst tech definitely has its place (tablets or phones are a godsend on long haul flights), capturing memories and keeping in touch with friends and family back home (Instagram, Facebook or Skype), we find that if you keep your teens active enough through the day, it negates the need for tech for the vast majority of time.
“Any parent will know that for holidays with teenagers to work, you need to engage them in something that will challenge them,” says Liddy.
“That’s the beauty of a tailor made holiday. There are so many variables that go into making a successful trip – not just where to go, but what to do, existing family dynamics, age differences and personality types, it’s not surprising that the closer we work together with families the more harmonious and enjoyable to trip seems to be.”
“If you’re tempted by imposing a total tech ban through the holiday, though, our experience is: ‘don’t’, “she adds. “Teenagers do need their down time, they like to keep in touch with friends (for boasting or bonding) and when you’re spending so much time together, probably more than you have for years, it’s good to have an outlet that doesn’t require too much brain power.”
Top picks for holidays with teenagers
Based on your feedback, we’ve cherry picked a few experiences that make for fantastic holidays with teenagers.
Swim with Sharks in Belize: Off the coast of Caye Caulker, along the world’s second largest barrier reef, you can swim and snorkel with sharks, turtles, rays and more. The area is known as ‘Shark Alley’. See our Belize Adventure Highlights for an example itinerary.