Whilst we may struggle to recognise our burgeoning adults as they juggle with hormones, hurdles and hand-held devices, we know as parents ourselves, and from your feedback that adventure holidays abroad with teenagers can be wholly transformative.
Not only can exploring a different destination inspire a new-found confidence in your teen but you may also find that sharing adventures with teens on a more equal footing can improve the family dynamic, too. Indeed, whilst many teens would prefer a minor acne outbreak to spending time with their parents in public at home, take them to an exotic location, somewhere that’s far outside of their comfort zone and you create a situation ripe for serious family bonding. Here’s our handy guide of holidays your teens will thank you for.
Top picks for holidays with teenagers
Based on your feedback, we’ve cherry picked a few experiences that make for fantastic holidays with teenagers.
1. Get high on a Bali Swing
You may not know what the Bali Swing is, but we bet your Insta-savvy teen will: the social media platform is filled with images of golden people, as they launch out on a giant swing (think kids’ playgrounds but on a much larger scale and with more safety cables), over tree tops and surrounded by lush rice terraces. The ‘original’ Bali Swing is just outside of Ubud, but it’s proved such a popular attraction, hundreds have sprung up around the island. Just so you’re down with the teens, here’s a selection of the most instagrammable. We have two sample itineraries to consider, take a look to see which suits you best!
2. Go ice-trekking (or ice climbing) on an Argentine glacier
The Perito Moreno glacier located in Los Glaciares National Park isn’t just one of the most important tourist attraction in Argentinian Patagonia, but, as some 121 miles across also one of the most stunning, appearing as blue, not white as the sunlight reflects off it. Vast, and surprisingly one of the only glaciers in the world which is still growing, you can enjoy the best of it by going hiking on it, or, depending on the age and ability of yourselves and your teens, try ice-climbing. Quite literally the coolest thing you can do with your teenagers in South America! Take a look at our Buenos Aires, Patagonia and Lake District or Best of Argentina and Chile sample itineraries which both have a gorgeous photo of the glacier or read this handy guide about what to expect.
3. Take a Felucca down the Nile in Egypt
It’s a fact that any trip to Egypt involves a lot of sightseeing, whether you’re walking around (or inside) the Pyramids at Giza, exploring Abu Simbel or taking a donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings. Every teen needs time to chill and spending a day cruising along the Nile is a fabulous way to do it. After cruising down the river, tacking from side to side, your boat is secured to the bank alongside the support boat, which has toilets and showers. You’ll enjoy a fabulous homecooked meal on board, before sleeping under the stars on the Felucca, listening to the sounds of the lapping waters and even howling wolves! It may not be an adrenaline fuelled adventure, but when on a family holiday with teens often turns out to be the trip highlight! Take a look at what else you could be doing whilst in Egypt!
4. Hike through Wadi Rum in Jordan
It’s one of the most ‘other worldly’ places on the planet, a backdrop for many a film including Laurence of Arabia and Star Wars. This hike takes you along a narrow path running along the edge of Jebel Rum, where the huge expanse of desert stretches before you. Overnight, you stay in a Bedouin camp for a night under the desert sky. See our Active Jordan for Teens trip for more and check out our Jordan with kids top 10.
5. Get active in Vietnam’s Halong Bay
Most teens will have seen pictures of the karst limestone scenery that dominates Halong Bay (if not, show them this!) They may even have studied it in Geography. What they won’t have done is really feel part of the landscape by canoeing through the waters or maybe diving off a junk (a traditional sailing boat) and going for a swim. It’s a way of bringing the landscape to life AND getting them active and involved, all in a jaw-droppingly beautiful location. Check out our Vietnam Highlights and Northern Vietnam itineraries.
6. Snorkel through Mexico’s underground cave systems
Whilst Mexico may be famous for its cenotes, its unique topography means it also boasts some of the world’s best and largest cave systems. Dispel immediately those images of scuba diving through cloudy water with rapidly depleting oxygen tanks – this is NOT that kind of cave diving. Instead, enjoy an absolutely fascinating snorkelling adventure in Sac Actun cave. Swimming though crystal-clear water shallow enough to stand up in, you’ll discover giant, light filled, caverns adorned with stalactites and stalacmites, which, when caught by the sun, shine like jewels. All equipment, from wetsuits to head torches, can be hired on site. Take a look at our Mexico itineraries for further inspiration, Best of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Best of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Belize.
7. Cruise Cuba’s capital in a Cadillac
The streets of Cuba’s capital, Havana, must be one of the coolest hang-outs on the planet, a place which has inspired poets, revolutionaries, artists and musicians for decades. When holidaying with teenagers, don’t miss cruising along in a vintage American car (no boy racers here), sip mocktails in a café, listen to the sounds of samba, sit back and relax as you make the most of the Latin vibe. The ideas in this ‘Havana for Families’ blog will keep you busy for days, then check out our two-week family trip to Cuba. To get in the mood, listen to Camila Cabello’s Havana on YouTube.
8. Adrenaline activities in Namibia
Swakopmund is Southern Africa’s adventure capital and a magnet for adrenaline junkies. Quad biking, sky diving, camel riding, sand biking or boarding and more are all on offer. See our Nambia Highlights trip for more information.
10. Cycle around the Pink City of Jaipur in India
India can be a riot for the senses, exciting even the most reluctant or truculent of teens. If you can peel yours out of bed before 9am (a wet sponge seems to work for ours) they’ll be rewarded by the sights and sounds of a city waking up, hawkers selling their wares, people scurrying to work whilst cycling through the streets of Jaipur during our Wonders of Rajasthan trip.
10. Learn to cook like a pro in Thailand
Teens will love being guided around a local market discovering and stocking up on new and exciting ingredients before learning how to cook traditional dishes such as tom yum or pad thai from a local expert. How hot can they handle, that is the question… Authentic cookery lessons can also be undertaken in Vietnam. With a bit of luck they may be keen to show off their new culinary skills to friends and family once home, too!
11. ‘Summit’ to challenge them in Borneo
Move over, Duke of Edinburgh Award! See if your teens can rise to the challenge of summiting Mt Kinabalu on our Active Borneo trip or the highest mountain in Africa on our Family Mt Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania. If our consultant, Helene Cooper, can get her 5-year-old daughter to the top of Borneo’s highest mountain, we think it’s in reach of most teens, too. See her experience, Climbing Mt Kinabalu with Kids here or check out our Family trekking holidays blog.
12. Go on safari in Africa
Whether you choose to safari in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia or South Africa, parents often cite African safaris as THE bucket list holiday choice before teens get too cool to want to hang out with ‘the olds’ and travel with their own friends instead. (Weeps…) For a really iconic trip-of-a-lifetime (and only open to teens of 15 above) take them trekking to see the gorillas in Uganda – it’s coming soon to our website. Contact us directly for a sneak preview. (Also check out our Tanzania with kids – Top 10 activities round-up)
13. White-knuckled white-water-rafting in Peru
The urge to update Insta or Snapchat disappears pretty much as soon as you step into the inflatable boats during a white-water rafting trip on the Urubamba River in Peru’s Sacred Valley – what with the white knuckles and generally hanging on tight. Parents get major kudos, too, for coming along for the ride. A brilliant bonding experience for the whole family, just go easy on lunch beforehand. Rafting is available on both our 2-week Highlights of Peru trip and 3-week Highlights of Peru trip.
14. Swim with sharks, sea lions and turtles in Belize and the Galapagos
Swimming with sharks. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but just how WOW is that for teens to brag about to their friends back home? In Shark Alley, Belize, snorkelling amongst these creatures is a unique experience, a place where you’ll also see rays and plenty of other fish in the tropical waters, too. (Check out this article about snorkelling in Shark Alley). Take a look at our Belize Adventure Highlights for more. If swimming with sea lions and turtles is more your thing then a family trip to the Galapagos takes some beating. Here’s our top 10 things to do whilst there.
15. Go Ziplining in Costa Ricaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !
Like the above example, we also find that Zip-lining in Costa Rica renders the smart phone completely obsolete, what with the clinging on for dear life (we exaggerate, but those hands will be fully occupied, we promise!). Costa Rica is well set up for adrenaline-fuelled activities and there are several zip line and canopy activities throughout the country. Our favourite? The one in Arenal Reserve, where there’s also an ‘aerial tram’ for a slower place through the canopy – where 90% of forest animals live. When holidaying with teenagers, this is a must!
16. Swim in emerald green pools in Oman
17. Catch some (sun) rays in Sri Lanka
When our teens started to catch a glimpse of themselves in the shop window / car rear-view mirror / mobile phone screen, that was the moment that we realised that looking their best was important. Maybe returning home with that slight tan is why sunbathing whilst staying in snazzy beach hotels will always be a top draw of the long-haul holiday when travelling with teens. Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Belize, take your pick. Also check out our Sri Lanka with kids top 10 for our favourite activities and Costa Rica with kids.