I have been traveling with my children since they were newborn babies – my eldest was just two weeks old when she took her first transatlantic flight. Back then, we traveled heavy, lugging a stroller, car seat, foldable crib and what have you, and we were always prepared for naps, snacks and meltdowns. Now that the girls are in their teens, we’re a lot less encumbered but we still take special care when planning our family holidays. Here are five tips to make the most of your adventures with young adults and teens:
1. Let them contribute to the decision-making. When I plan family itineraries, I like to schedule a meeting with all the family members in order to find out more about everyone’s personalities and the group dynamics. A couple of family members might be early birds and real go-getters while the others might be more interested in taking it easy. Individuals in the group might have specific things they want to do or have special requests. Knowing this will influence what goes into the itinerary.
2. Get them data roaming or local SIM cards. You’ve got to unplug your electronic devices if you really want to get away from it all, but most of us want to stay connected, even on holiday. This might be even more true with teens and young adults. While you might have wifi in your accommodations, you will want to consider making sure that every family member has internet access when out and about – especially if/when your young people head off to explore on their own.
3 …which brings me to this: let your older kids explore on their own. it can be terrifying to allow your teen to go off on their own in an unknown environment, especially if the spoken language is not one your child is familiar with. However, if it’s a safe environment and you can trust them to exercise a reasonable degree of caution, then why not? An internet-enabled phone can be something of a safety-net. They’ll be able to reach you and you them, and you may even be able to track them on an app, if it makes you more comfortable (especially with younger teens). Thanks to social media, kids these days have an incredible ability to suss out the most interesting (and photogenic) spots and who knows, they might even know more about what to see and do than you!
4. It’s not always practical or possible, but when it is, consider allowing them to bring a close friend. Including someone who is not a family member can have the magical effect of ensuring that everyone is on their best behaviour and is also a built-in buddy system for when they enjoy activities separate from you.
5. Take lots of team photos! You probably have albums (or these days, more likely a digital cloud) full of sweet baby and toddler pictures, but fewer photos as your child(ren) get older. A family holiday is a great opportunity to take photos together – and you may find that your teen or young adult may be a bit more willing to pose for these than they are at home. Simple snapshots are great, but if you’re hoping for something more polished, you can hire a professional photographer through a travel company like Viator.