This is a family travel post with tips for traveling with older kids and teens.
I have always enjoyed traveling. In college, I studied abroad in Spain and was able to visit many of the European countries. After college, I lived in Costa Rica for a few months to immerse myself in the culture and really learn Spanish. I think it is so important for people to learn about other cultures and experience new places.
After having kids, I do not get to travel quite as much, but we still have been able to take many family vacations. My son was only 6 weeks old when we took him on his first flight to Tulsa. Since then, our family has been on many flights, taken long road trips across the country, as well day trips to new places just outside of Austin.
In each case, we have had wonderful experiences in learning new things, seeing fun places, and spending quality time together as a family.
If you plan to take a road trip with the kids, then check out my 10 Tips for Happy Road Trips with Kids.
Tips for Family Travel with Older Kids and Teens
Now that our kids are getting older, in some ways travel is easier, but we face some new challenges as well. Now the kids voice their opinions about where to go and what to see. Instead of two people having to agree and make compromises, now there are four of us.
Here are some tips for family travel with older kids and teens that will hopefully help you and your family have a fun, stress-free vacation.
Have Older Kids Help with Travel Plans
If you have not chosen a destination yet, ask for the kids’ input on where they would like to go and why. Have your kid research the places they would like to visit. Then, set a budget and encourage your kid to help you book flights, hotel rooms, and more while staying within your budget. In addition, older children can use maps to help plan road trip stops, overnight stays, and interesting spots along the way.
Teens and Older Kids Can Document Memories with Photos and Journals
When I take vacations, not only do I take lots of photos, I also like to keep a journal to help me remember everything we did. Older kids can document the vacation by taking photos or keeping a journal. Depending on your child’s personality and interests, you can designate him or her as the family photographer or family secretary. Then, when you return home, turn those memories into a photo book with Shutterfly or another online printer. We made a vacation book after our road trip from Austin to Philadelphia. It included lots of pictures and stories from our stops in Memphis, Gatlinburg, Williamsburg, and more.
Learn Something New
Learning new things as a family is a great bonding experience and confidence booster. With your child’s input, find a new hobby or activity you can learn together while on vacation. Maybe you could learn to SCUBA, cook the local cuisine, make baskets, rock climb, and so on.
When we went to San Francisco a few years ago we were able to take the Alcatraz tour. It was amazing. We all learned so much about the history, but also society during that time. We still talk about that tour.
Do Something Good
As your vacation or during your vacation find a way to give back and do something good. This not only helps places, people, or animals in need, but it teaches kids the importance of helping others. This is a great opportunity to talk with your kids about your morals and values. If you are looking for ways to give back while on vacation, then you can find out more about volunteer vacations from Merrill Edge here. In addition, there is Hands Up Holidays, luxury family trips that give back.
Hands-on Discovery of History and Science
Use this time to show your older kids that what they are learning in school is important and relevant. Together, you can learn more about where your ancestors came from. Visit Ellis Island and see if you can find a family member’s name on a ship manifest. We were able to find my great-grandparents!
In addition, there are so many wonderful science museums around the country. When we were in Memphis, we learned all about tornados in Tornado Alley during a trip to the Memphis Science Museum.
Visit Parks and Trails with Older Kids and Teens
Now that our kids are older, we can take longer hikes and explore more parks on our vacations. Let your teen research area parks and help decide where to go and which trails to take. If you can, take advantage of free entrance days in the national parks.
What are some of your tips for travel with teens and older kids?
Do you have any good tips or advice for traveling with teens and older kids? Where have you gone on family vacations?