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Why Traveling with Teenagers is One of the Best Things You’ll Ever Do

Planning a trip with teenagers in mind can often sound daunting, but the truth is that traveling with teenagers is 100% worth it – even when things don’t go perfectly.  There are so many benefits to taking a trip together for both you and your teen that far outweigh the challenges. We’ve enjoyed traveling with our kids at every age, but there is something amazing about traveling with teenagers.

Looking for amazing travel ideas with you kids?

Here are 10 reasons why traveling with teenagers will be one of the best things you can do.

Here are 10 reasons why traveling with teenagers will be one of the best things you can do.
Traveling with teenagers

Build a Strong Bond

When kids are young and reliant on you for basic food and security it’s easy to maintain a close bond – their survival depends on it!  But as kids grow, they are constantly challenging boundaries and seeking more independence.  As they move into adulthood they need this bond more and more – and so do us parents.  This means you need to work harder as a parent to keep a strong bond with your teenager.  Travelling together as a family provides long stretches of time together to keep or re-establish this relationship.

Create Shared Memories

Shared memories between you and your teen become the foundation for a strong connection and help create a family story.  If you think back to your own teen years, what are the things you remember?  How do the shared memories with your family or friends help create your own identity?  These shared memories are what you and your teen will carry with you in the years to come.  I distinctly remember traveling with my own siblings and missing a flight and all the chaos involved in getting home.  We still talk about the shared memory today.  Today with my own teens we always make a point to end each trip with our top 10, where we rehash the best parts of the trip.  This process is the start of cementing long-term shared memories that you and your teen will come back to in the years to come.

Traveling with Teenagers: Visiting an Italian Mountain Hut

Escape Distractions

Work, school, sports, clubs, birthdays – sometimes it feels like life at home is one continuous rush from one thing to another.  We love seeing our individual kids involved and passionate about what they are doing, but it also makes it almost impossible to spend quality time together.  Travelling often becomes the one time we are all focused on the same activities and goals.  As you plan travel adventures with your teens, I strongly encourage you to leave as many distractions as possible at home so that the time together truly becomes time together.  It may be tempting to check your work email a few times, but unless you need to, leave that distraction away and stay in the present.

Show Them They Are Important

As much as teens are constantly pushing for more space, they are also testing their relationship with the people they love.  Carving out time to travel and explore together sends a clear message that they are important.  Even on those days when it seems like the last place they want to be is spending time with their families, you are showing them they are valued.

Give Perspective and Build Empathy

Travel is a powerful tool for teaching everyone (and especially teens) perspective and empathy.  Teens are notoriously self-centered.  It is actually developmentally appropriate for a teen to focus on themselves and their own identity.  Travel helps them put this perspective into a larger context.  Imagine you are trying to figure out who you are and you’re only doing it within a room of similar people.  You will likely be very limited in your perspective.  Travel (especially when it includes some time outside all-inclusive resorts, is a wonderful way to build this into a teen’s identity.  

In addition to perspective, teens build empathy by understanding a wide range of other people and cultures.  For a person to build empathy, they need to see the world from other peoples’ perspectives and build commonalities between themself and others.  Travel is a natural way to show teens how other people live at a crucial point in their development.

Improve People Skills

Travel forces people outside their comfort zone and makes you interact with people you might not normally spend time with.  Just asking someone for directions or talking with a tour guide forces your teen to talk to someone outside their comfort zone.  This is even more true if you are traveling as part of a program or group.  Many of these programs will have a range of other families and the shared experience can build lasting friendships.

Make Learning Real

Travel may be the best teacher your teen ever has.  There are so many ways to make learning come alive when you travel.  You can plan your entire trip around a historic event, a visit to an interesting ecosystem, a stop-off in an art museum, taking a cooking class, and so much more.  Even when you aren’t trying, teens will see the value of some of their school classes when they are faced with conversing in a foreign language or needing to convert between currencies, or even just trying to navigate through a city.  Every teen has asked their parents or teacher ‘Why do we need to learn this?’  Traveling is the perfect way to show them that learning in school can provide the foundation for the rest of your life.  Many teens will see something on their travels that motivates them to study or learn and can even set them on a path forward in life.

Traveling with teenagers: Trying New Things in Italy

Learn Life Skills

One of the most important things you will learn while you travel is new life skills.  It is almost inescapable.  As a parent, you can promote these life skills by including your teen in the planning process.  Asking your teen to make decisions on routes, places to stay, what to eat and more means your teen is learning valuable life skills.  Basic things such as reading a map, managing a budget, and learning to prioritize the most important parts of each day are all things that teens naturally learn through planning a trip.  

Traveling with Teenagers: Playing Mini-Gold in Slovenia

Get to Know each other Better

Planning and going on a trip with your teen gives you an amazing opportunity to learn more about what interests your teen.  You may want to plan an amazing trip to the rainforest, but it turns out your teen really wants to learn to surf.  This is the perfect opportunity to compromise and learn more about what excites both you and your teen.  In our family, we started solo travel trips with our kids when they turn 10, 14, and 18.  These trips are with just one parent and one child and give us the opportunity to choose a destination and activity that interests that child.  Even when we travel as a family we try to get each kid to choose an experience – a place to stay or activity.  This adds to everyone’s experience and means that we get to know our teens a little better with every trip.

There are so many other benefits to traveling with teens!  I would love to hear your favorites in the comments below!

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