Family travel with toddlers and babies is so much different than family travel with teens. It’s definitely easier, because you don’t have to worry about packing strollers and other gear, and teens are so much more independent. But in some ways, it can still be complicated.
Teens generally don’t have as much time to travel, between school schedules and extracurricular activities. Planning around these things can be challenging, and can often result in the necessity to travel during busy times.
In addition, teens have their own interests and need activities and amenities that they will enjoy. A small park with a playground may be the perfect vacation pit stop with a toddler but won’t work with a teen.
Wondering where to go on vacation with teenagers? Here are some ideas for the best vacations for teens – so that you can have fun and create fantastic memories.
Disclosure: We’ve visited some of these vacations with teenagers as part of press trips with complimentary/discounted stays. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links and we may benefit financially if you click through/purchase through one of these links.
The Best Vacations for Teens For Memory-Making and Fun
Road Trip Vacations With Teenagers
One of the best family vacations with teens is the quintessential family road trip. There are so many fantastic road trip itineraries that you can take with teens – whether you decide to rent an RV, or use your own car and stay in hotels each night. Consider a trip through California, starting or ending in San Diego, and stopping in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Or, make it your mission to stop at several national parks or state parks. If you have special interests, like baseball, you could even plan a trip to see several ballparks.
Depending on the amount of time you have, you may consider a cross-country vacation. Just be sure to do plenty of advance planning, because some places will require reservations and some don’t allow large RVs. This is something you’ll want to plan well in advance.
Check out some family friendly road trips here.
Family Cruises with Teens
While I often see many families with young kids on cruises (especially the Disney Cruise Line), I think the teen and preteen ages are absolutely perfect for a family cruise. At that age, kids can take advantage of the teen clubs, and many make their own friends when they are cruising, leaving you with some free time on your own.
Many cruise lines have teen clubs for ages 13 to 17, with teen-friendly amenities including private pools, kids’ spas, video games, DJs, special parties, and more. On the Disney Cruise Line, for instance, there are two separate clubs – a tween club for kids aged 11-14, and a teen club for kids aged 14-17.
Another benefit of cruising with teens is autonomy. They’ll have their own key cards and can walk around the ship on their own. Now that my kids are older, my husband and I can go to the adult-only restaurant and hang out at the adult-only pool while the kids go to the shows, visit the tween/teen clubs, and explore the ship.
Before booking a family cruise with teens, you’ll want to research the ship to make sure there are plenty of activities that your teenager will enjoy.
Read more about the Disney Cruise Line with teens here.
International Adventures With Teens
I’ve always loved traveling internationally, so I was thrilled when my kids were older and ready to be on a flight for long periods of time (although I know many people who fly long distances with much younger kids). One of the best vacations for teens is an international adventure.
We started with an easy trip to Canada, where we visited Quebec City. This beautiful city has a European feel and is the perfect first international trip for kids. The local culture here is similar to that of a European country, and it’s very accessible for US travelers whether you are flying or driving.
Over the past two years, we’ve traveled on family adventures to Portugal, Italy, London, Paris, and Greece (with plans for a trip to Germany this summer). All three are fabulous destinations with teens.
Because we were unfamiliar with Italy and Greece, we decided to take an Adventures by Disney trip. The kids loved making friends with other travelers. These are definitely fantastic trips for those with teenage family members in the group.
When planning an international vacation with teens, I would definitely ask what they are interested in. My two kids unanimously voted on England and France for our last family vacation because they both wanted to see Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, and the other iconic landmarks/attractions in the area. When they choose their vacation destination, they definitely feel ownership over the vacation.
Caribbean Vacations With Teenagers
The Caribbean is filled with beautiful resorts and gorgeous islands that are perfect vacations for teens. Whether your teens enjoy lounging on the beach, exploring the ocean, participating in water sports, or learning about sea animals, you can definitely find the perfect destination in the Caribbean.
Some of the most popular activities for teens in the Caribbean include stand up paddle boarding, parasailing, rescuing and tagging sea turtles, snorkeling, scuba diving, and jet skiing.
One of the most popular all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean is Beaches Resort, located in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. I had the opportunity to visit the Turks and Caicos location as part of a complimentary press trip, and I was so impressed with all of the activities for kids of all ages. For teens especially, they offer a teen club, and Xbox area, and a water park.
Because of that, we later returned to Beaches Turks and Caicos at our own expense. My kids loved this resort so much that we made plans to go back during school vacation a year later. It’s rare that we go back to the same place year after year, but this is definitely a special vacation destination.
Theme Parks With Teens
My kids have always enjoyed theme parks, but as they’ve gotten older, they have enjoyed them even more. Now, instead of chasing characters around the parks, they are running to the thrill rides.
Our experience has definitely changed – now they can spend later nights at the parks, and aren’t as interested in getting there first thing in the morning (I still try to get us there at park opening, though).
During our trip to SeaWorld San Antonio last year, my husband and I relaxed on a bench while the kids ran from ride to ride. Thankfully, they didn’t need us to go with them, because I just can’t do that many thrill rides in a row anymore.
If you are thinking of visiting a theme park with teens, consider pairing it with another family-friendly attraction or destination. One idea is a Disney Land and Sea vacation, where you go on a Disney Cruise after visiting Walt Disney World.
I’ve only been skiing a few times, but I am always envious of those who visit beautiful ski towns and resorts. If your teens enjoy skiing and/or snowboarding, a ski vacation is a great idea. Depending on where you live, you can even plan ski trips for long weekends, without spending a whole school vacation week there.
If you aren’t as into skiing as your kids are, find a resort with a nice lodge and perhaps a spa that you can enjoy while they are on the slopes.
History Vacations With Teenagers
Kids who have already learned about various historical events may find vacationing in a historical place fascinating. My kids especially loved visiting Greece after learning about it in their Ancient Civilization class. Washington DC is another fabulous family travel destination, and the teen years are perfect for a family vacation.
If you are planning a history vacation with your teens, I’d definitely recommend including them in the planning process. Make sure that you are visiting a place that they will enjoy so that they aren’t bored. Mix in some fun with education and history.
If your kids are daredevils, then consider adding at least some adventure or active component to your family vacation. Some ideas of adventure travel include rock climbing, ziplining, and whitewater rafting.
If you aren’t sure how much adventure your family will enjoy, just plan a small adventure activity during your regular family vacation to see how much you enjoy it. Start with something small, like horseback riding or whale watching, as part of a trip.
Last year, as part of a summer vacation in North Conway, NH, we decided to do a canopy zip line tour. It was so much fun, and my kids are already plotting another, longer zip lining tour.
City Vacations with Teens
My kids love visiting cities. There are so many things to do, including museums, parks, landmarks, and other attractions. You’ll never get bored during a city vacation.
Our favorite city to visit is New York City. It’s just about 3 1/2 hours from our home outside of Boston and includes more activities than you can do in even three or four trips. This is another destination where I let my kids decide much of our itinerary.
Have you vacationed with teens? What types of things have you done, and what have you enjoyed the most?