6 Tips for Travelling with Teens

By Jenn Lee, 19 March 2019 6294

With their long hours spent in school and hectic social lives, you might be finding it hard to get quality time with your teen. If you have teens at home, like I do, you’ll know that getting them out of their rooms and together with the family can be tough. 

One great way of getting their (almost) undivided attention is on a family holiday. Family holidays are precious because travelling together gives us time to bond, make meaningful memories and strengthen our relationship with our children. 

But, travelling with teenagers can be stressful. Teens have their own ideas of what’s fun and what’s interesting, and travelling with them brings new challenges, different from travelling with younger children.

Before going for a family trip with your teenage children, it is best to consider these factors:

1. Involve your teens in trip planning

Image: Jenn Lee

Whichever country you and your spouse would like to go to, remember to seek your teenagers’ opinion as well. Once a destination is picked, involve them in researching where to go, what to see and even where to stop for meals. When they have a role to play in trip planning, and in the decision-making process, they will generally have less to complain about.
For instance, when we booked a trip to Penang last June, my son volunteered to plan part of our itinerary, largely because he loves Sherlock Sam (https://sherlocksam.wordpress.com/), a fictional detective who once visited Penang, and he wanted to see the same sights Sherlock Sam saw. We were happy to let him jump into the planning, and I must say, that was one of the best decisions we made. He enjoyed the trip very much.

2. Give them pocket money to spend

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I find it useful to give my teenage boy some pocket money to spend during our holiday trip, allowing him to buy snacks or souvenirs for himself and his friends. This small level of autonomy makes him feel good about being able to decide on some items on his own without having to keep seeking permission and asking us for money.

This is also a learning opportunity for him, firstly, to learn about exchange rates and how to evaluate if the items are worth buying after converting the prices back to Singapore dollars. Secondly, he learns to budget his money according to what he desires to spend on. We do also allow him to bring some of his savings to spend on family trips, besides giving him his holiday allowance, so that in event he wanted to buy something in excess of what we gave, he has some reserve to fall back on. Our only condition is that he must first justify the usage of his savings to us, teaching him about accountability as well.

3. Provide Internet access 

Image: Jenn Lee

No teenager is happy without data or Wi-Fi, and my teenager is no different. When we’re travelling, he’s constantly taking photos and videos of things he sees and sharing these with his friends back home. Knowing how important staying connected is to him, I make it a point to activate my data roaming for him to tap on so that we can all share our experiences instantly with our family and friends back home. Having this convenience makes everyone happier too.

4. Buy tickets to places of interest in advance

Remember that kids (and adults) of any age do not like to wait in line. So, save the hassle and avoid last minute disappointments by buying them online whenever you can. You want to make your holiday as hassle-free as possible.

5. Be ready to compromise 

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Travel can be exhausting and sometimes, your teenagers might just want to sleep in. If getting the whole family up early is going to wreck your day by saddling you with cranky teenagers, consider heading out by yourself or just with your spouse while your kids sleep in. It is okay to have a long leisurely breakfast while waiting for them to wake up and it is nice to do a little shopping without complaining teens in tow. 

Remember that not everyone is adventurous with food, especially when it comes to local delights. While you may think that travel presents rare opportunities to try some authentic local food, your teenagers may still prefer burgers and fries. Try not to fuss over their choices and respect what they would like to eat. Afterall, they can always come back and try the local food when they’re older.

6. Buy Travel Insurance

I’m a strong believer in Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong, will go wrong – and thus, I would never take a chance and leave Singapore without travel insurance, even if it were just across the causeway (we have a yearly travel insurance plan). 

You never know if an accident could happen or your money could get stolen when you are abroad. Instead of having these mishaps ruin your trip or cause you great inconvenience, buy Travel Insurance for peace of mind.

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There is always so much to do yet so little time when you are on a vacation. But, remember, a family trip is meant for everyone to enjoy, so avoid fussing over trivial issues like not being able to visit certain sites or waking up too late. Spread the activities out, factor in some time to purely chill out, and, most importantly, stay safe. I hope you’ll thoroughly enjoy your next family trip!