This post is written by my 17 year-old daughter Izzy. I’ve written an article of advice from parents of teenagers on travel with teens. My daughter has consulted various friends and relations to do the same thing from a teenager’s perspective:
‘What do you want most when you’re on a family holiday?’ Asking this around at school, I am not surprised that the resounding answer is ‘Wi-Fi’, closely followed by ‘a comfy bed’ and ‘good chips’. Whilst mum was writing her post about travelling with teens, we decided it would be a good idea to give a teen’s perspective.
Annabel, 17: ‘Don’t go on holiday to the middle of nowhere, let the teens have some independence.’
Emily, 19: ‘Make sure to get them involved in choosing the type of holiday or destination.’
Bronte, 17: ‘Maybe go to an all-inclusive resort which would give kids more freedom so they don’t have to be dependent on their parents all the time.’
I know that personally, if I were forced on holiday somewhere I would not be happy, and then would ruin the trip for everyone else because I would be bored/angry/annoyed. This year we went to Emilia-Romagna and Mum and Dad originally wanted to drive there (mainly so we could bring wine and cheese back home). I said that I would rather not go, if it meant having to endure a 20+ hour car journey with my brother. Mum booked flights for us all almost as soon as I said this.
Essie, 19: ‘Make sure they want to go and make sure the kids know exactly what type of holiday it is.’
Parents should make it clear that the teen doesn’t have to come. Remember that teens can stay home alone, with a friend or perhaps a nice aunt. Also, remember that you are unlikely to have many family holidays left. For this reason, I think parents are (or at least they should be) much more open to compromise the older you get.
Even though this isn’t something you can have huge control over, a comfy bed and pillow makes all the difference when on holiday. Most people, especially teens, will be grumpy without a good night’s sleep, which is not at all what you want on a family holiday. I wish I could think of an adequate tip for this, but short of bringing a pillow and mattress topper on holiday with you I’m not sure there’s much you really can do.
Alex, 14: ‘Most of them don’t want to be drenched in sun cream in front of everyone.’
Essie, 19: ‘Make sure there is some sort of shop nearby, and always have something on you that the kid likes to eat e.g. chocolate in case they don’t like any of the food and they get really angry.’
I do think it’s important to think about the sort of food your children/teens like and choose places accordingly. Italy is a place where you can never really go wrong, as there is a pizzeria on practically every corner. Also, if you’re going out for the day, whether it is to sightsee or to go to a theme park, think about when and where there will be food available: if in doubt, bring your own. When everyone will inevitably be hot and tired, hungry teenagers are not something you really want to bring in to the mix. We always take at least water with us, although Mum usually has an emergency supply of cereal bars, which can be an absolute godsend.
William, 14: ‘Make sure to take adapters for chargers and make sure there is Wi-Fi.’
Alex, 14: ‘You need to remind them to bring chargers. Have Wi-Fi.’
Never is a family with each other almost constantly except when on holiday, which is bound to lead to annoyances. When this happens, being able to leave the situation (albeit not physically) and go on social media seems to help matters enormously. Hand-in-hand with this comes Wi-Fi, which is of course crucial. Not least for finishing off that coursework that was due in three weeks before the end of term.
Max, 15: ‘Make sure everything is easily accessible, like shops and the town, for people who don’t like walking. Make sure it’s near some peak* beaches.’ (*Translation: good beaches)
Tasha, 15: ‘Go to a place that is busy and lively, not to a place where there isn’t anything going on.’
Tom, 17: ‘You can’t stay in one place for the whole time. You’ve got to get out of the hotel area. When you’re based somewhere don’t travel anywhere that takes more than an hour – don’t spend too much time travelling.’
Day trips are great, but a seven-hour round trip just to see a solitary Roman temple? Not so much. Closer to where you are staying, it’s great if the town is easily accessible, preferably a ten-minute walk or cycle. This means we can go off, get out of your hair, and do something that is independent.
Hannah, 17: ‘Make sure you have stuff to do in the day so we don’t get bored just hanging around.’
Bronte, 17: ‘Go somewhere that has facilities for teenagers and activities like water sports where they can do things with other people their own age so they don’t get bored and can spend time with other teens!’
Emily, 19: ‘Keep them busy with entertainment that’s age related like watersports.’
On the entertainment side of things, teens’ activity clubs are a total no-go for me, although I know some people love them. On the other hand, activities like water sports, archery or a spa treatment are fab. They break up the sightseeing and the family monotony, but are things you can do together and enjoy, as well as being new experiences that you’re unlikely to have at home. As Bronte said, these are also a great chance to meet new people and a chance to spend time with people who are your own age and like similar things to you.
My number one tip is to ask ahead about suitcase space. If your teen says they need a suitcase to themselves, that is what they will actually need, no matter if you optimistically thought you could share four-to-a-case. Don’t forget, if all else fails, you can always just go with this:
Martha, 20: ‘Don’t take them.’
Do you have any tips to add on travelling with teens, either as a teenager or as a parent?