PHOTO: Kids clubs at resorts provide a wealth of activities for teens. (photo via Flickr/Grand Velas Riviera Maya)
Let’s face it. Teens aren’t the easiest people to please. They want to be treated like adults and do their own thing—especially on vacation—but they aren’t quite adults yet.
Oh, and they also get bored easily too.
“When you travel as a family and include your teens, you are helping them grow into well-rounded, valuable adults,” said Nina Fogelman, director of Ancient Summit Travel. “I have heard it said, and totally agree, that passports should be the next diplomas. Shaping a teen’s mind by exposure to other cultures is one of the best things you can do for them.”
However, planning a vacation with teens comes with its own unique set of challenges, so how do you make your trip a good one for them?
“Stay at an all-inclusive resort with a great teen club and activities,” said Margie Lenau, a travel consultant with Wonderland Family Vacations. “Teens love food, games and a place to hang out without adults where they can eat as much as they want, whenever they want to.”
For example, Lenau suggests families with teens check out Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean, which offers the Scratch DJ Academy. “Teens can learn to be a DJ and compete in a DJ FaceOff, or even perform at a party while they are there,” she said.
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“Try to involve them in the whole planning process,” said Denise Lorentzen with Dreams Travel.
“Ask them what they would like to do. They will protest if they feel you chose all the activities, locations, etc. and they feel they don't have a say. Let them have a separate space or their own room. Sometimes, it's best to have condo-style or villa properties where you are all together, but they have their own room to hang in should they need some quiet space.”
Greg Antonelle, managing director of MickeyTravels, LLC agrees. “Survey the teen children to confirm their interest in the destination you are visiting,” he said. “Ask them for things they'd like to do and make them feel their desires are important. Have them provide input on restaurants too. Having them feel their thoughts are important, makes the vacation with teens a smooth one. If you have buy-in from the teens, it will ensure a great family vacation with memories to last a lifetime.”
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Set expectations before the trip.
“Is there free Wi-Fi at the resort?” asks Tracy K. Drechsler of Your Dream Travel Concierge. “How many hours a day is acceptable for them to be on their devices or away from the family?
"Personally, when I travel with my teen and tween, phones go in the safe and we bring a different color highlighter for each child so we can select activities they want to do daily when on cruises and all-inclusive resorts. Meals and evening are family time. Knowing this before the trip begins makes for less arguing while away.”
Let them stay connected.
“If you have a teen [who's] active on social media or talking/texting with friends, choose a resort with free Wi-Fi or purchase your cruise line's social media package for them,” said Deborah Corwin of Dream Vacations.
“The ability to Instagram selfies of all the cool stuff they are seeing and doing will help them to actually enjoy the time with family even more.”