vacationing with teensIf your teen doesn’t want to be seen with you in public, a family trip may sound like a stretch. Tailor your plans to your teen’s concerns, though, and you’ll enjoy both the trip—and each other.  

On the Go

Encourage teens to pack their own belongings, and follow up with them to make sure they haven’t forgotten key items. Also set the expectation that they’ll need to entertain themselves. A small pack containing snacks, books, and electronics is essential. Score points by funding new tunes or titles before the trip.

Teens need down time just as younger kids do. They may crave time alone, so plan for that. Give teens room to breathe by renting a condo or vacation home, or booking adjoining rooms at hotels. Can’t afford that? Find alternatives. Honoring personal space pays off. 

Bring It

Teens are works in progress: at this stage; they’re the stars of their own personal dramas. So bring a digital camera and notebook for your adolescent to document experiences. Add a roll of Scotch tape if you think your child might like to make an instant scrapbook. You may be surprised at what catches her eye. Talk about which images and sites are her faves, and why. 

Make sure your teen’s clothing choices are appropriate. She may want to glam up (or dress way down) when she spies a cute boy on the beach. That said, short shorts aren’t for out to dinner. Reinforce the value of matching clothing to the situation. 

Resources that will make traveling with teens easier, and more fun!—>


Keep the Balance

Social relationships are important to teens, so they’ll want to stay connected to friends back home. Facilitate communication within reasonable limits. You don’t want to watch your daughter text her boyfriend during a Broadway play, but it’s not reasonable to expect teens to unplug from their social network completely. Social media and cell phones can preserve their relationships—and your sanity. If the budget permits, consider inviting a friend along to share the adventure and defuse some of the angst.

Cool Tools

These resources will make travel with almost-grown kids an expansive, not exasperating, experience.

  • Consider staying at an all-inclusive resort. Such places have something for everyone. Visit Family Getaway for packages. 
  • Let kids plan your itinerary. Browse hundreds of "to do"s in hundreds of locations listed alphabetically at Vacations 2 Discover.
  • Forget a crowded hotel room. Find larger, family-friendly vacation rentals at Vacation Rentals By Owner and secure a little privacy for everyone.

Heidi Smith Luedtke has traveled extensively with her children and lived to write about it. Follow her blog on parenting as leadership at 

Did you have a travel experience with your teen that was better than you expected? Did it bring you closer as a family? What did you do that interested them?