Ah the joys of a family vacation!
Everyone looks forward to spending long, lazy days at the beach with plenty of great surf and creamy white sand.
Or perhaps you’re the family that just loves to explore a new city or country, marveling at its interesting architecture or rich, glorious history. Americans still place huge importance on a family vacation.
Whatever type of family you are, there’s no doubt that finding the right type of vacation to suit everyone is more of a challenge as your children grow up.
It’s definitely harder than when they were little as they used to just happily go along with whatever you wanted! You have to think about what they want to do (as much as what you want to do) and make sure the vacation you choose genuinely caters to their needs as well.
There’s simply no point in going to a resort that is better for younger children. Your teenager won’t have anyone to hang out with or to converse with!
By the same token, visit somewhere that is entirely adult-friendly and your teen will struggle to find things to do.
Oh, and of course, there’s the additional cost now your teen is considered a fully-fledged adult by most hotels. Generally, most hotels charge an adult rate for kids over the age of 12.
If you’re careful though you will find hotels that don’t, such as NOVOTEL – kids under 16 go free!
Taking a family with teenagers away on vacation is an expensive process. So it’s a good idea to really do some research and find the right vacation when holidaying with teenagers on a budget.
I do however, strongly believe that a family vacation is the perfect way to really bond with everyone, especially if there’s been frustrations at home. It’s good to go away and assert family togetherness, opening up the lines of communication!
Do They Definitely Need To Go With You?
Of course, sometimes it might not be appropriate for them to join you. Remember, it’s generally safe to say that as your child turns into a teenager, he or she will be harder to please. This is for so many reasons but they almost always look at their peers and what they do when it comes to vacations.
They might not even want to go on holiday with you, preferring to stay at home and do their own thing (they just love the freedom!) or perhaps they’d rather vacation with their friends or certainly with another family.
Of course, depending on the type of teen you have, these are all worthwhile considerations.
If you feel they don’t need to come with you, by all means, leave them at home if they’re responsible, or with another member of the family. Alternatively, they might prefer to do a holiday camp with their friends somewhere, there are numerous different camps across the USA that cater for your teen’s tastes and often this is easier on the pocket than taking them with you.
Ask For Your Teen’s Input
So if you do decide to go away as a family you should really take time to think about it.
Your teen is likely to be very quick to judge and label things as boring. He or she might dismiss ideas without giving them a chance.
It’s also worth remembering that the days of holidaying as a family are drawing to a close because once your teen hits around 17 or 18 you can bet your bottom dollar they won’t want to travel with you! So try and make it memorable!
Always ask for your teen’s input. Perhaps hold a family meeting to discuss the upcoming vacation and ask everyone what they want out of their time. It’s not always easy to find something that suits everyone but you can factor in things to do to please every family member.
Giving your teen the opportunity for input will help to pave the way for the right family vacation for all of you.
How To Find Good Vacations On A Budget?
So where can you go that won’t break the bank too?
Set Your Budget
Well, firstly set your budget. Once you’re sure exactly what you have to spend, you’ll be able to narrow it down to choices within the limitations.
All-inclusive vacations are usually good value too – especially for hungry teenagers!
Unlimited food and drink means you don’t have to worry about finding restaurants and places to eat on a budget so it’s definitely worth looking at. Here are the USA’s best all-inclusive resorts and European too (some of these are not all-inclusive).
Think about an adventure vacation as much as your budget will allow and perhaps try and find somewhere a little more exotic than usual.
Certain parts of the world are cheaper to travel to at different times of year because of the weather. I’m not suggesting you travel to the Caribbean during monsoon season but there are parts of the world that do offer tremendous value in the summer such as parts of Africa (very hot) and many parts of Asia (although be warned there will be high humidity and some rain).
However, there’s so much to do and many adventures to be had! Africa is home to Tanzania and Kenya, both of which offer the most incredible safari experiences and you could even climb Mount Kilimanjaro!
Now there’s adventure for you!
This website helps to get the best possible prices.
Europe For Teens
European companies like ClubMed have great all-inclusive vacations that are geared toward families with teens. They promise to keep your teenager completely entertained from morning through to late, late night.
In fact, these types of trips are so popular with families with teens that often parents return year after year because they love the fact that their teen is so occupied – and happy. Plus if you’re the type of parents that want to have some real R&R I can assure you, you won’t see that much of your teen (so much for bonding!).
Of course, Europe as a destination is exciting enough especially if you tend to holiday in the US. There are other companies that are European-owned such as Mark Warner, and Sunsail. They both specialize in teenagers and lots of the vacations involve plenty of water-based activities.
Affordable European Destinations
If you do decide to try Europe, then avoid the very expensive areas such as South of France and Italy, try more affordable Eastern Europe. Croatia is fast becoming a very popular destination and the little islands of Hvar and Korcula are popular with young Europeans for the water sports, unspoiled coastline and boat trips..
Of course, Croatia is home to Dubrovnik’s rich history and incredible ruins so there’s plenty to do. The city has lots of cultural excursions including taking a cable car 750 foot above the city which sits on the Adriatic.
The beaches aren’t sandy (there is one sandy beach) but clean and the sea is clear blue. See the walls of the city and the old palaces, the architecture dates back hundreds of years.
South East Asia
South East Asia is a great area for teenagers and very inexpensive once you arrive.
Thailand and Malaysia have things to do for all the family, from the most experienced traveller to the family who particularly enjoy beach-time.
There are lots of places to stay for all budgets, but beware of very low-cost hotels because the sanitation might not be to a good standard.
You should definitely read the review sites and decide whether or not they are suitable.
The Thai Islands (Phuket and Koh Samui) have a good nightlife scene, if you’re happy for your teen to go out of course).
If you want family adventure, the North of Thailand is well known for its excellent trekking trails and you can see some amazing nature, not to mention some incredible bird watching too.
Holiday At Home!
Don’t rule out staying in the USA either, even if you’ve done it before. The USA is huge and there are plenty of places to explore plus you have the added bonuses of not needing any air travel (if you don’t mind driving long distances).
Neither do you need to make a currency exchange – this is a big plus at the moment because the EURO is making it rather expensive to travel to Europe.
Miami is notorious for fantastic night-life; there are plenty of clubs, bars and great restaurants that are heaving with young people, night after night. Miami Beach is a colorful place literally full of teenagers enjoying the sunshine and watersports on offer.
South Beach is another cool, hip and young area and Lincoln Road at night is a bustling area full of beautiful people chilling out in the restaurants that spill out onto the sidewalk.
San Francisco is another great trip or why not take a road-trip through California exploring the sensational coastline? Teens like lots of adventure – so you don’t have to stick with one destination.
Start in LA, and drive the Pacific Coast Highway. Head down Highway One into Santa Barbara (stop off at the outlet mall and let your teen spend some money on his or her favorite designer labels!).
Also visit the Old Mission which was built in 1786 and is still home today to Franciscan friars.
The beach in Monterey is well-known for its natural beauty and your teen will really enjoy taking in some surf time.
On route to San Francisco you’ll have time to visit Santa Cruz , and Pebble Beach. This drive can take as long as you want, allow four or five days and stop off at small hotels, little independents that are inexpensive but still quaint.
South Africa isn’t expensive when you get there, it’s the flights that cost a lot of money but if you collect Avios or points towards flying, you might be able to get cheaper flight options.
The best thing to do though is to book a year in advance and be mindful that South Africa at Christmas is notoriously good for weather.
Once you get to South Africa, eating out is very cheap and the hotels are affordable. There are numerous safaris to enjoy too, just take a couple of days out and explore the Kruger National Park with a tour and really experience the animals close-up.
Safaris run twice a day, very early morning and at dusk. Some African destinations need anti-malarial precautions so check before you travel.
Take A Cruise
Another great idea that will suit everyone’s taste is a cruise! You get to explore different locations, your teen can hang out at the pool if that’s what they want to do and there’s usually plenty of entertainment on-board if you choose the right cruise to cater to your teenager.
Hire A Villa
Don’t discount holiday villas or apartments as they are often much cheaper than hotels and give you flexibility to prepare your own meals on a budget. Air BNB is excellent for accommodation.
Bring A Friend for Your Teen
If that just doesn’t appeal to you then why don’t you choose a destination that you want to go to and if you worry that your teen won’t have anyone to enjoy the experience with, suggest they take a friend.
They are likely to be more open to where you want to travel to if they know they can take someone with. The only problem with this type of travel is you may have pay for the other teen, although this is not a rule and plenty of other families are happy to contribute.
Ask – it’s only polite for the other family to offer to contribute.
Tips When You Arrive
To really get the most out of holidaying with your teen you might find the following tips useful:
- Compromise. Remember, it’s their vacation too. Give them a few days where they get to choose the activity, for example, they might want to go water-skiing or paragliding. Factor in their choices.
- Don’t plan for early starts if you’re exploring or sight-seeing, teens don’t like to get up early (in my experience!). If they want to sleep, use this time to do something short without them and negotiate a meeting time or a “be ready” time. Remember, if you’re constantly sight-seeing your teen might be fed up seeing yet another old ruin, cut him or her some slack! Go without them.
- If you’ve planned an excursion that you know everyone will enjoy, don’t take no for an answer unless they absolutely insist. If you have the type of teen who will sulk for days, it’s not worth ruining a 10-day vacation for!
- Don’t rely on teenage clubs at a hotel. Lots of teens hate structured activities designated for teenagers and won’t want to go – it makes them feel like a child. Remember, most of these clubs are geared toward young teens so if you really want to use one, check it out first. Ask them to try it for a couple of hours but if they don’t want to do it, don’t force them to.
- Don’t necessarily choose a hotel out of the way of the attractions and entertainment. While it might be cheaper, you might find that your teen is easily bored and you spend the difference on traveling into town and out again.
- If you can, try and find somewhere that your teen can have his or her own space. Their own bedroom is important for privacy.
So, to summarise. Have a family meeting to discuss the type of vacation you all want. Narrow it down and start to do research based on your fixed budget.
Always factor in activities to please every family member and don’t be mad if your teen wants to stay at the hotel while you visit cathedrals!
Never force your teen to a hotel teenage club if they don’t want to do it. If you really, really experience strong resistance from your teen when it comes to a family vacation, consider allowing them to stay at home with a responsible adult, if necessary.
Or you could take some more tips from this little YouTube nugget. Happy holidays!