As a parent, one of the scariest things we have to deal with is the time when our kids decide that they are old enough to take the leap and travel solo.
We don't think that there's any parent that finds it easy to watch their kids leave the family home and adventure off to faraway lands. We want to take the worry out of travel for teens, so they can make memories that last a lifetime, and meanwhile, you can relax at home knowing they're as safe as possible.
Teen travel is a brilliant opportunity for kids to explore different kinds of communities and cultures all over the world. The key to making sure their teen traveling experience is great fun and as hassle-free, as it can be, is making sure they're properly prepared. From our most important things to pack, to the best places for teens to stay, we've got some great travel for teens advice to help you make this an adventure your teen will remember for all the right reasons. If you want some more of our tips for living with teenagers, why not check out this article about how to navigate [teen shoplifting] and [these tips for teens and dads]?
How To Prepare Your Teen Traveler For Their Adventure
Planning a teen travel adventure starts with coming up with some great ideas. Help your teen write a list of places they'd love to travel, and you'll both start getting excited about all the possibilities.
Think about countries or states that you have connections with. Does your teen have an aunt in London or a childhood friend who moved to Canada? Staying with friends or family can be the perfect way to travel abroad cheaply and safely.
It's a great idea to help your teen to work out what their goal is for their trip. Do they want to do some summer travel to work out what career they want, to learn a new language, or just to have some plain old-fashioned fun? Finding the goal will help you make the right choice of trip for your teen to get the most out of travel.
Start talking about money with your teen. This is the perfect time for teens to be in charge of their own budget and learn to save. Plane tickets abroad can be the perfect gift for teen travelers, but asking them to save for other costs will add a deeper sense of meaning to their trip.
Research what documents your teen needs for their trip, and help them make sure everything is in order. It's a good idea to print out boarding passes and directions ahead of time so your teen knows where they're going. If they can't speak the language, having a map of where they need to go will help them when asking locals for directions.
Sharing itineraries with family at home means that your teen will be safer when traveling to lots of different places. Why not ask them to send photos of any train or plane tickets so you can keep track of where in the world they are?
Another must is checking that your teen's phone provider works in the country they want to travel to. There's nothing more stressful than being landed a huge international phone bill, that's one of the travel experiences that's definitely best avoided.
It's a good idea to have a conversation about your teen's personal safety before they go on their trip, so they can stay as safe as possible. Make plans for some of the most common things that might go wrong, like getting lost or running out of phone battery. That way if anything does happen they're less likely to panic.
Before they leave, choose set times for your teen to check in with you each day. Perhaps you could ask your teen to text every morning and before bed to make sure you know they're safe.
Best Places For Teen Travelers To Visit
The world is a pretty big place, and it's important for teens to work out the right travel experience for them to have the best time. Knowing their goals before they choose their trip will help teens to make the right decision for them, and these great places might just spark some new ideas for where to go.
Europe is a great destination for teens who are looking to broaden their cultural horizons. France and Italy are both full of amazing art and historical buildings that are sure to inspire the imaginations of any creative teen.
Taking part in a language exchange or homestay program is a great way to experience a country from the comfort of a family home. Spain and Portugal are both great visits for surf lovers who want to practice their language skills, and not to mention the amazing food on offer there too!
If your teen is an academic superstar, why not consider a pre-college summer program at Oxford University in England? They have programs for all different subjects that are perfect for getting ahead while exploring somewhere new.
Volunteer trips can be a great choice for solo travelers who want to do something meaningful during their trip. From Europe to Africa, Asia, South America, and beyond, places that might feel scary when traveling alone are much safer to experience as part of a program.
Things Teen Travelers Need To Pack
What your teen needs to pack for their big trip will definitely depend on where they're going, so make sure to research the best clothes for the climate. If your teen is doing a lot of hiking, practical boots and clothes are a must-have. Consider any places of worship or cultural sites that require specific dress codes, and make sure your teen is covered if they want to travel to those places.
In general, the best rule for teen travelers is to pack the least amount of stuff possible. Chances are they aren't going to wear that extra pair of sandals or need the third bathing suit, and they will be so glad of packing light when they have to carry their luggage from place to place.
That said, comfy clothes are a must for any trips that require a lot of travel. A six-hour plane or bus journey is far more miserable in jeans, trust us on that one.
Remember that the more extravagant they look, the more your kids might be a target for thieves, so stick to beads and leave the expensive jewelry at home. It's also a good idea not to use expensive electronics in public places, so they don't draw attention to themselves.
A plug adapter for the countries you're traveling to is going to be a massive help to keep your teen's electronics charged. Buying them ahead of time is usually a lot cheaper than remembering at the airport, and portable chargers mean they won't be left with a dead battery in the middle of nowhere.
A guidebook of the country they're visiting is always a good idea, but it's important to use it in the hotel or hostel, rather than out and about, so they don't draw attention to themselves as a tourist. We recommend taking a language phrasebook or writing down some common phrases in case of an emergency too.
A notebook and pen is a great travel companion. Keeping a diary of new experiences will help them remember all the details and be a great tool for reflecting on what they learn along the way.
Playing cards are a great way to break the ice in new social situations, so we love the idea of taking a pack to make friends in hostels and on group trips if your teen is feeling shy.
Lots of hostels require padlocks for bags and lockers, so we recommend having one handy just in case.
A basic first aid kit is another good idea. Keep it in an easy to access part of your teen's luggage so they can get to it in an emergency. Add some earplugs and an eye mask for light sleepers as some hostels can be much louder than you can even imagine!
Our favorite investment by far for your teen's trip is a money belt. They're brilliant for keeping their important documents and money hidden out of sight. That way if your teen's bag is stolen, they will still have all the things that they really need.
Words Of Wisdom For Teen Traveler
Traveling abroad for the first time without your family is an amazing opportunity for your teen. It is one of the best ways for them to gain a different perspective on the world and collect some awesome stories to tell their family and friends.
The most exciting thing about teen travel is that this is most likely going to be your teen's first time getting to go on the exact vacation they dream up. They get to be in charge of everything that goes into making the trip exactly how they envisage it. From choosing the places they want to explore to the activities they do, it's all their choice. As well as being a big responsibility, this can also be a lot of fun.
And that's the most important thing for your teen traveler to remember during their trip: have fun! Even though this experience is going to push them out of their comfort zone and things might go wrong at one time or another, this is one of the first opportunities to solve their own problems without any family there to help.
Of course, it's scary for parents, that's only natural, but this is going to be a huge step in your teen's maturity. And don't forget, handing over the responsibility is also a big step for you. Making sure your teen is prepared is going to help you feel more at ease as you send them out into the world.
If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at our favorite [motivational sports speeches], or what to do when [teens want to be with older men]?
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
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