Epic Getaways: 7 Tips For Family Vacations with Teens

So you are considering some family vacations with teens but do they want to go on vacation with you? Ahh…..that seems to be half the battle. Teenagers can be hard to please and are sometimes a bit ah…well….a bit demanding. And let’s face it, a dissatisfied teen can seriously disrupt a happy family vacation.

There is good news however, vacationing with teens can be more enjoyable if you pick the right resort, cruise or destination and take steps to ensure that they are on board with the family vacation as a whole. How to do this you ask?

To create a remarkable getaway that appeals to young adults, start by including your teens in the vacation planning process. When teens have a say in the destination or activities, they’re more likely to enjoy the experience.

Consider teen-friendly travel spots like theme parks, bustling cities with a blend of educational and entertainment options, or adventure destinations offering thrilling activities such as zip-lining and surfing. To make sure your vacations with teens are a hit, engage them by researching together.

Look up ‘top destinations for teenagers’ or ‘vacationing with teenagers’ to find places with a perfect mix of relaxation for adults and excitement for younger members.

Don’t forget — ensuring there’s Wi-Fi or cell service available can be a game-changer in keeping teens connected and happy during downtimes on your trip. By catering to their interests and giving them a part of the decision-making power, your family holiday is much more likely to be remembered as a fun and harmonious occasion for everyone involved.

And ultimately, they usually want to do some cool stuff that they can come home and tell their friends about. These make the best family vacations with teens.

Check out the picture below taken on one of my family vacations. We were on a cruise and one of the stops was Cozumel, Mexico. We did an excursion where you drive the dune buggy to the beach and then go snorkeling – do you think our teen loved it – you bet he did!

We did an excursion where you drive the dune buggy to the beach

So let me help you first determine what is important when selecting teen-approved vacations and also give you some vacation ideas to help you plan your next fabulous familytrip.

Here are some essential items to consider when planning Family Vacations With Teens:

1. Pick a large all-inclusive resort.

Pick a large resort. Teens will generally be happiest in a very large resort because there will be more to do and there is a higher probability of finding other teens of the same age. Otherwise, they may feel “trapped” for the week.

2. Make sure there is a good beach and a lively pool area

Make sure there is a good beach and a lively pool area. To have some ability to roam around within the resort is often the best medicine for a teenager on holiday.

3. Give them some space – maybe more than you think

Give them some space – maybe more than you think. The primary motivation is often to “lose my parents for a while”, so why not give them that privilege? It’s their holiday too!

4. Pick a vacation based on the amenities and activities

Pick a resort based on the amenities and activities. Is your teen interested in scuba diving? Horseback riding? Playing tennis? A cooking class? What about snorkeling? Hiking? Maybe dancing hip hop? Pick a vacation that matches such interests.

5. Some older teens like to engage in more sophisticated activities that can pique their intellectual curiosity or challenge their skill sets

When planning a family vacation with teens, consider destinations that offer a mix of adventure and learning opportunities. Places like Washington, D.C., with its rich history and multitude of museums, or outdoor hubs such as Colorado for hiking and mountain biking, can cater to these interests for a memorable trip.

By incorporating their preferences and suggesting exciting group activities, such as escape rooms or interactive workshops, you’ll increase the chances that the whole family will enjoy the vacation together.

6. Bring a friend

Bring a friend. Consider taking a friend along for your teen. Everyone might have a better time. It may also make you feel more secure knowing they are not roaming around alone – make sure they follow the buddy system.

My family did this on our Disney World vacation and it was great for my son to have someone his age to go on rides with and hang out at the Disney resort with.

7. Ease up

Ease up! Vacations are supposed to be fun. Bend the rules a bit, give them space, and let them sleep in – it’s only for a week or two, they will love you for it.

Discovering the Perfect Family Vacation Ideas for Families with Teenagers

To make all this much easier for you, we have some recommended family vacation resorts that are great for family vacations with teens, suggestions for the best cruise vacations for teenagers and other family vacation ideas with teens in mind.

Things to Do Beaches Turks and Caicos
Things to Do Beaches Turks and Caicos

For Your Beach Loving Teens: All Inclusive Resorts

When planning a family vacation with beach-loving teens, all-inclusive resorts offer the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure that will cater to every member of your family. An all-inclusive resort takes the stress out of trip planning, as it bundles meals, accommodations, and a plethora of activities into one convenient package.

Teens will love the freedom to explore the resort on their own, indulging in endless water sports, beach volleyball, or simply lounging by the pool with new friends. Meanwhile, you can rest easy knowing that all the details are taken care of and there are no surprise expenses.

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Many of these resorts also feature teen clubs and curated activities specifically designed for young adults, ensuring that they remain entertained and engaged throughout their stay. Whether it’s snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, participating in a surf lesson, or enjoying a beachside bonfire, an all-inclusive resort vacation guarantees an unforgettable experience for your teens and the entire family.

For Your Animal Lover Teens: Dude Ranches

If your outdoorsy teens crave the excitement of an authentic Wild West experience, then a vacation at a dude ranch could be the perfect fit. Imagine days filled with horseback riding through sprawling landscapes, guided nature hikes, and evenings bonding around a crackling campfire under a star-spangled sky.

Dude ranches not only offer the physical activities that active teenagers yearn for, such as fishing, archery, and rock climbing, but they also immerse your family in a rustic culture that’s rich with history and tradition. These destinations are thoughtfully designed to cater to every skill level, ensuring that your whole family can partake in the fun and outdoor adventures.

Moreover, most ranches provide all-inclusive packages, making it easier to manage your vacation budget while enjoying an array of amenities and activities. For families with teens who have a love for animals and adventure, booking a stay at a dude ranch might just create those unforgettable memories you’re looking for.

Make sure to do some research to find “dude ranch family vacations” that offer an ideal balance of excitement and relaxation for a tantalizing taste of frontier life that your teenagers will talk about for years to come.

For Your Adventure Lover Teens: Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida, is a veritable playground for teens with a penchant for adventure and thrill-seeking experiences. This vibrant city is home to some of the world’s most famous theme parks that are sure to get your teen’s adrenaline pumping.

Disney for teens

Universal Orlando Resort offers a multitude of high-octane rides and attractions, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where they can immerse themselves in the magic of J.K. Rowling’s famed series.

Over at Walt Disney World Resort, the iconic parks—such as Magic Kingdom and EPCOT—provide a blend of nostalgic charm and cutting-edge attractions that fascinate teens and adults alike.

Beyond theme parks, Orlando’s adrenaline-fueled activities like indoor skydiving at iFLY, wakeboarding at Orlando Watersports Complex, and zip-lining over alligators at Gatorland add an extra dose of excitement to your family travels.

Florida here we come: Awesome 5-Day Family Itinerary for the Florida Space Coast

For Your History Loving Teens: Europe

Embarking on an international family vacation with history-loving teens to Europe is an excellent opportunity to bring textbooks to life and spark an appreciation and lifelong passion for traveling and learning.

Europe’s rich tapestry of history offers endless educational experiences amid its ancient ruins, medieval castles, and revered museums. Imagine the awe on your teenager’s face as they stand in the architecture Colosseum in Rome, where gladiators once battled, or their fascination when exploring the underground secrets of the Parisian catacombs.

Ensure you visit the British Museum in London to witness artifacts like the Rosetta Stone, or stroll through the historic corridors of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. For a hands-on experience, consider booking historical reenactment events or guided tours that focus on significant periods like the Renaissance or the World Wars, tailored to grab the attention of your curious teens.

Portugal has something for everyone. The Algarve region is particularly popular thanks to its Mediterranean climate and stunning white-sand beaches along the Atlantic coast.

Each European destination will not only entertain your family but also immerse your teens in living history that resonates far beyond the classroom, making for an unforgettable and educational family vacation.

Read More: Best Mediterranean Family Beaches: Beaches For Kids In Europe

For your Nature Loving Teens: National Parks

Venturing into the breathtaking expanse of America’s National Parks presents a spectacular escape for families with teens, offering an awe-inspiring blend of outdoor adventure and education.

As you plan your next vacation, consider exploring the natural beauty and rich tapestry of landscapes our national treasures offer—from the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone to the rugged peaks of the Grand Tetons and the majestic vistas of the Grand Canyon.

Experiencing these natural playgrounds in the United States not only provides a thrilling background for your teen’s Instagrammable stories but also an opportunity to foster a deeper connection with nature. Engage your teens with ranger-led programs or challenge them with a variety of outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking to keep their adventurous spirits soaring.

As eco-conscious travel gains momentum, visiting National Parks also serves as an extraordinary way to instill environmental responsibility and sustainability in the next generation, ensuring these pristine places remain unspoiled for years to come.

Remember to book well in advance, especially for popular parks, to secure your spot amidst the boundless beauty of America’s great outdoors.

Hawaii Snorkel Tours
Hawaii Snorkel Tours

For Your Ocean Loving Teens: Hawaii

Embarking on a family vacation with teens in tow can often pose a challenge due to their ever-evolving interests, but the islands of Hawaii present a virtually fail-proof option that is sure to keep their attention. The Aloha State beckons with its majestic beaches, towering waves, and lush trails, providing the ultimate playground for water-loving adolescents.

Activities like surfing lessons at Waikiki Beach, snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Hanauma Bay, or hiking up the scenic trails of the Na Pali Coast will not only bring them closer to nature but also create unforgettable family memories.

Cultural experiences such as luaus and Hawaiian hula lessons further offer unique opportunities for your teenagers to appreciate the rich heritage of the islands.

Whether it’s the adrenaline kick from ziplining through the tropical canopies or the serene moments watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii delivers a versatile vacation experience that will resonate with your ocean-loving teens and the whole family alike.

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For Your Winter Loving Teen: Ski Resort in Canada

When considering a family winter vacation that caters to the thrill-seeking teens in your household, a ski resort in Canada should be at the top of your list. The Great White North is renowned for its powdery slopes, stunning alpine scenery, and world-class facilities that provide families with an unforgettable winter sports experience.

Resorts like Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia not only offer an extensive array of runs that suit every skill level but also feature teen-friendly zones complete with terrain parks and half-pipes that are perfect for snowboarders and skiers looking to test their skills.

Off the slopes, many Canadian ski resorts offer a range of après-ski activities tailored to teenagers, such as ice skating, tubing, and snowmobiling, ensuring that every day is packed with adventure.

Moreover, the family-oriented accommodations are designed to cater to the needs of every family member, making a ski vacation in Canada a superb choice for bonding, creating enduring memories, and embracing the winter season.

Whether it’s the challenging ski trails, the cozy mountain lodges, or the vibrant village life, Canada’s ski destinations promise a cool retreat that will have your winter-loving teen eagerly anticipating the snowfall every year.

Best Vacations for 12-Year-Olds

If your older kids are not quite teens yet, it’s essential to consider that as they edge closer to their teenage years, their interests and independence start to take on new shapes. Family vacations with pre-teens can be a fantastic experience, filled with adventure, learning, and bonding, but identifying the right destination is key to keeping everyone engaged.

Kids are often looking for excitement, a sense of novelty, and, let’s face it, cool photo ops to share with friends. Destinations such as theme parks, with their thrilling rides and attractions, cater perfectly to their desire for adrenaline-pumping activities.

Meanwhile, cities that offer a mix of culture, history, and modern attractions can provide a diverse experience that satisfies their growing curiosity. Look for places with interactive museums, urban street art tours, or even escape rooms that provide both entertainment and mental challenges.

By incorporating destinations that fascinate their evolving interests, you ensure that the vacation memories will be cherished and the family bonds strengthened, even through the rollercoaster ride of the teenage years.

Family Attractions Atlantis Bahamas
Family Attractions Atlantis Bahamas

How can parents balance their teenager’s desire for independence with family bonding time on vacation?

Now that you have planned your family vacations with teens you might be wondering how to navigate to make it wonderful for everyone. Balancing a teenager’s desire for independence with family bonding time during a vacation calls for both communication and compromise.

Here are several strategies that have worked for me and my family:

  • Communicate before and during the trip about the importance of spending time together as a family. Make sure the teens understand there will be specific times or activities dedicated to family bonding. 
  • Designate times when your teenager can choose what they want to do. This could be a few hours at the hotel pool, exploring, shopping, or even staying in to relax.
  • You might set up a system where the family does one group activity each day, and then your teens have their independent time afterward. It’s about finding a middle ground that respects both the family’s and the teen’s wishes.
  • Set clear boundaries and rules about where they can go and what they can do when they’re on their own. Make sure they have a way to communicate with you and know how to be safe.
  • If the budget allows, consider accommodations that give everyone more space, like a rental home or suite with multiple rooms, so your teen can have some privacy.
  • Have agreed-upon times when the family comes together to check in, such as meals or before bed, to discuss the day and plan for the next.

Traveling with teens can be an amazing adventure filled with memorable moments. To make the most of your trip, encourage your teens to capture their experiences through videos. Encourage them to take videos using their smartphones or cameras, and guide them to use video compressor tools to optimize the file size for easy sharing.

Additionally, suggest using a video editor to trim and enhance the videos, adding special effects or music to make them more engaging. If they have multiple clips, they can also utilize a video joiner to merge them into a seamless compilation. By involving your teens in the video creation process, they will have a chance to showcase their creativity and create lasting memories that they can cherish and share with friends and family.

Remember, the goal is not to control every minute of the vacation but to create an environment where everyone feels included and respected. Openness, understanding, and a sense of humor can help ease any tensions and ensure that both the parents and the teenager have a positive and memorable experience.

In conclusion, a family vacation with your teens is an enriching experience that blends the spirit of adventure with the warmth of togetherness. Striking a balance between their thirst for autonomy and cherished family moments is achievable by incorporating their interests, allowing for personal time, and planning collaborative activities.

Encourage your teens to suggest destinations or activities, making them feel heard and valued. Embrace the opportunity for family bonding by engaging in group adventures, whether it’s exploring new terrains or trying local cuisines together, yet respect their need for space by setting aside time for them to unwind independently.

Remember, the goal isn’t to schedule every minute but to create an environment where shared experiences naturally foster connection.

With thoughtful planning and open communication, your family holiday can strengthen the bonds with your teens, leaving you all with lasting memories and a deeper understanding of one another. Discover more tips on planning the perfect family vacation with your teens.

Travelon Jo
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