6 Tips For Planning a Vacation With Tweens and Teens

Posted March 15, 2024 by Prairie Wife -

Planning a vacation with tweens and teens can be overwhelming, and as someone who currently has five kids ranging in age from 18 to 9, I get it!

We recently traveled to the Texas Coast for our family vacation and took along two bonus teenagers. It was a fantastic vacation, and as I sat in the airport staring off into the distance while we waited for our turn to check in, I found myself making a mental list of what went well so I could repeat the experiences next time.

This led me to think that perhaps it would be helpful to YOU if I shared some of what I learned not only on this trip but also on our vacation to Italy last year.

Here are my 6 tips for planning a vacation with tweens and teens:

  1. Consult With Your Kids: Sit down and have your kids help you decide on a few basic details about your vacation. We usually start by asking them where they’d like to go (while already having a few realistic ideas). If finding a specific location is tricky, ask about the kinds of weather or geography they’re interested in seeing. Living in Wyoming, a trip to see mountains isn’t usually mentioned. The beach is usually a top pick, and the trip we took to Vegas two years ago was because they wanted to go to a “big city.” Another question to consider as a family is what type of vacation vibe you want. Relaxing and lazy, adventurous and busy, or a mixture of both?
  2. Have Them Research Activities: One of the great things about tweens and teens is they’re tech savvy. They’ve been using the internet to research and do schoolwork for years. Now, it’s time to let them use all their knowledge to help your family. We generally set aside a few bits of time to sit as a family (together but separately) and look at things to do in our planned vacation spot. Each kid comes up with two ideas, and we jot them down and then try to include them in our itinerary.
  3. Know Your Kids: We have active kids. They love to be outside and moving, so it’s necessary for us to plan time to let them be active. This last vacation, we spent almost three days at the beach. We bought beach toys and a volleyball to help keep them entertained, but we also knew they’d want to swim in the ocean, walk for miles along the beach, and nap in the sun. Full days of hardly any tech time isn’t a problem for our kids. I also know that sleeping in is a rarity in our family, so we made sure to let them be a bit lazy and didn’t plan any activities before 9:00 am. We like to learn new things and enjoy museums, but our kids like to roll through at their own pace. Planning to spend 6 hours at a museum doesn’t work for us. If you have a science and tech-loving kiddo, find something to do at least one of the days that they’ll enjoy instead of dragging them on a 5-mile hike daily.
  4. Experience New Things Together: Part of the fun of a family vacation is making memories, and one of the best ways to do that is to try something new together. It forces everyone to get a bit uncomfortable and, more often than not, ends up being the most fun you have on the trip! On this last trip to the Texas Coast, we did TopGolf and Go Karting as a family. There were lots of mistakes and so much laughter. Our family trip to Italy was a major bonding experience because NONE of us had been there before or spoke the language. It forced us to rely on each other, and we learned some new strengths individuals in our family had that we didn’t realize. We were definitely all closer after going through two weeks of new experiences together!
  5. Feed Them: Just like little kids, the quickest way to ruin a day with tweens and teens is to forget to feed them! We always pack airplane snacks, and as soon as we reach our destination, we stop by the store and get food for our entire time away. We often Airbnb or stay in a condo, so breakfast and lunch food are a must. But we also pack plenty of snacks to eat at the house/condo, in the car, or while out adventuring. If your crew is getting sluggish and cranky, it’s always a win to find a random ice cream place or swing into a local favorite for a light meal!
  6. Set Clear Expectations: If you don’t make it clear that no phones are allowed at the beach or no tech in the car, you can’t be upset with your teens and tweens for being on their phones during your road trip. Before we begin our vacation we have a family discussion that includes the basic trip itinerary and our expectations for behavior and attitudes during our trip. It makes it easier for everyone to know what we want to have happen from the beginning. You’ll still have moments of strife and cranky kids (or parents), but we have a lot less when we’re all beginning the vacation on the same page.

Do you have any thoughts or tips and tricks from your own travel experiences?

Leave them in the comments!

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Categories: Life As It Happens, Parenting

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