The Best Family Holidays With Teenagers

best holidays with teenagers

Family holidays with teenagers can go one of two ways – get it right and you will wonderful lifetime memories, get it wrong and you may wish you stayed at home…

 

Choosing the right holidays with teenagers can be tricky. Depending on their age, they might be going through mood swings, tantrums, and will probably have their phones surgically attached to their fingers 24/7. However, maybe they have outgrown that phase and have finished school, in which case they will want to go on holidays with their friends… Regardless of age, the number of times where you will all be holidaying together is diminishing year by year. Make sure these remaining family holidays are good ones.

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There are a few things to consider when booking family holidays with teenagers. I suggested chatting to them first to see what type of holidays they are interested in. Depending on their age you may find they just want to flake out at a pool with good WiFi or perhaps a gym onsite is a necessity. However, if your budget allows, maybe this the time to tick off some holiday destinations off your bucket list. I have listed some of my recommendations for holidays with teenagers below, with types to suit all tastes and budgets. Hopefully there will be one here to suit you and your family.

holidays with teenagers

 

Foolproof destinations that teenagers will love

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that not all teenagers are the same. Some don’t like sand, others are fussy eaters, but most find sightseeing a chore. However, there are a few foolproof destinations that tick all boxes for family holidays with teenagers.
 

 

 
Orlando is probably an obvious choice, where else can you find over 20 theme parks in one place? Most parks have rides that are suited to teens as well as younger kids, and even if you have never read a Harry Potter book or seen any of the movies, you would need to be made of stone to be unimpressed with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. 

best holidays with teenagers - orlando

Most hotels in Orlando have swimming pools, but it is just over an hour’s drive to Daytona Beach if you fancy a beach day. The Kennedy Space Centre is also only an hour’s drive from Orlando – that is a great experience for all the family. Orlando is also great for shopping and fussy eaters don’t need to worry, there are food courts everywhere! 

Read: Where to stay in Orlando

Read: 10 things you need to know about Universal Orlando Resort
 

 

 
Dubai is another superb holiday destination for families. Dubai has year round sunshine, stunning beaches and so much to see and do for all the family. My only recommendation would be to try avoid the summer months, as temperatures can get over 40 degrees.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Kids and teens of all ages will love the Aquaventure waterpark at Atlantis The Palm, as well as IMG Worlds of Adventure – the world’s largest indoor theme park. You can also trying skiing in the Mall of the Emirates, go to the top of the world’s largest building the Burj Khalifa, but my favourite family experience in Dubai was the desert safari – whatever you do don’t miss it! 

Read: The best family activities in Dubai
 

 

 

Sun holidays with teenagers

The annual summer family holiday to the sun may not have the same appeal to teenagers as it did when they were younger. However, there are a few things that should keep teenagers happy on sun holidays. WiFi is vital, especially if you are away for a week or two – you may get away with limited browsing on a city break, but you won’t on a typical sun holiday.  Make sure the hotel or apartment you are staying in has good Wifi, preferably free. Check reviews from previous guests on Tripadvisor, and remember having WiFi and having good WiFi are two different things….

holidays with teenagers with waterparks

As well as WiFi, having a decent swimming pool is important for holidays with teenagers. A pool with waterslides is ideal and can keep teenagers entertained for hours. If this is not available to you, try to choose a property close to a beach with good water sports. Remember older teens may need a gym.
 

 

 
If your teenager is happy to mix with other teens, a teen club can be ideal. Make sure it caters for teenagers only, they will not want to mix with 10 year olds in a regular kids club. Additional activities such as a football academy, DJ lessons or an aerial adventure course are a bonus. TUI’s Splashworld resorts have free access to a waterpark (onsite or close by) throughout your stay, while their Holiday Villages have a host of activities for kids of all ages. 

Read: TUI’s Exclusive Collections – How to choose the right family holiday for you

Read: My Top Waterpark holidays

Read: Top 10 family holidays in Greece
 

 

 

Activity based beach holidays with teenagers 

While waterparks and teen clubs might be ideal for some teenagers, specialist activity based holidays are a great choice for active teenagers. Club Med and Mark Warner holidays have a host of sports facilities including sailing, surf lessons and even scuba diving. You will also find some creative activities such as film design and mixing beats. They are all-inclusive too, so you don’t need to worry about your teenager looking for hand-outs for every activity, as most are included in the cost.
 

 

 
If you have a budding tennis star or soccer player in the family, Sani Resort in Greece is a super choice. Sani Resort doesn’t just have tennis courts and football courts. Sani has a tennis academy in collaboration with Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre, and a UEFA-approved soccer pitch with football coaching sessions, in association with Chelsea Football Club. Children can enjoy a football camp with qualified coaches in various camps ranging from age four to sixteen years, and a Chelsea FC Foundation kit is given to all attendees.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Sani Resort also has a KTM bike club, using the Fat Bike and Go-Pro cameras, and adventure park with high ropes and zip lines, and a PADI Scuba Diving Centre offering many diving opportunities, including shipwreck diving. Sani Resort is expensive, but it is one of the best family resorts in the world.

Read: The ultimate guide to Sani Resort, one of Europe’s best family resorts
 

 

 

City Breaks with teenagers

City breaks can provide great family holidays with teenagers, but it is important to choose your destination wisely. American cities like New York, or Washington will provide the wow factor, but Barcelona, Paris and Rome are great choices too. Iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum are sure to impress, and there are plenty of Instagram worthy locations in most major cities.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Try to plan one day to do something other than sightseeing. The RER train will get you from the centre of Paris to Disneyland Paris in 90 minutes (there are plenty of rides for teenagers too), and Barcelona is only an hour from PortAventura and Ferrari Land. You could also try to take in a sporting event while you are there, a trip to the Nou Camp in Barcelona is ideal if travelling with boys.

Read: Top ten city breaks for families

Read: 12 things to do in New York with kids
 

 

 

Skiing holidays with teenagers

A skiing holiday is regarded as one of the best family holidays with teenagers. I skied with my family for the first time last Christmas and the kids loved it. It is an expensive holiday, but one that I believe is worth it. Teenagers will be active all day and won’t have the time or inclination to be checking their phone 24/7.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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They will also have the opportunity to try snowboarding and maybe even tobogganing, depending on ski resort you choose. Many secondary schools organise a ski holiday for their students, so going skiing before this happens will prepare them for the trip, and once they try skiing, they will be chomping at the bit to get back on the slopes. 

Read: Top 10 tips for family skiing holidays
 

 

 

Road trips with teenagers

I am a big fan of road trips. I love seeing lots of new places on one trip – and most teenagers to do. The key is to make sure you don’t have too many long journeys in the car, and to spend at least two nights in each place. No one wants to arrive in a hotel at 5pm and leave at 9am the following day – it’s exhausting and you don’t get to see the place properly.

Give yourself plenty of time to explore each stop, don’t plan to much on the one road trip, and make sure you have the right tech (we use a mediashare) that will enable to the kids to watch movies while you drive. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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We travelled from San Francisco to San Diego over 17 days and it was a fantastic family experience. We cycled across the Gold Gate Bridge, visited Alcatraz, spent a day in Universal Studios, visited the California Science Centre and also managed to include some beach time.
 

 

 
Another one of my favourite road trips was driving from Cape Town to Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa. South Africa was one of our favourite family holidays and one that I am sure any teenager would love. I can’t wait to drive from Seattle to Vancouver and stop off in some of Canada’s amazing National Parks – that is a road trip that is firmly on my bucket list.

Read: Our California road trip

Read: Biking the Golden Gate bridge

Read: How to plan the perfect South African road trip
 

 

 

Bucket list adventures that teenagers will love

When your teenager finishes school, you may find family holidays harder to organise. Why not make your teenager an offer they can’t refuse and scratch one off your own bucket list at the same time? The South Africa and California road trips (above) are bucket list adventures too, but for once in a lifetime experiences, think about far away destinations like Australia or the Galapagos Islands, visit Giraffe Manor in Kenya, go in search of the Gorillas in Uganda, or catch the sunrise over Machu Picchu. National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures have some incredible family itineraries if you have younger kids travelling with you too.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read: 25 Bucket list holidays to inspire your next big trip

Read: Top long haul destinations for families
 

 

 

Cruise holidays with teenagers

Cruises may not be in huge demand at the moment, but trust me when normality resumes, cruises are one of the bests family holidays with teenagers. You don’t have to worry about them wandering off as everything is on board the cruise ship – in fact many new ships offer wrist bands so you can track where your kids are at all times. 
 

 

 
Water parks are practically the norm on new ships now, but some cruise lines have gone a step further. I rode around a race-track on Norwegian Encore, and their virtual reality gaming area was like nothing I had ever seen at sea – or on land for that matter. Royal Caribbean have massive water slides, rock climbing walls, surf simulators, zip lines and even ski diving on some ships, and you can ride a Formula 1 simulator on some of MSC’s cruise ships.

best cruise holidays with teenagers

Most have separate teen zones where teens can hang out until late, without having to watch theatre shows with their parents. With all meals included and some restaurants open 24/7, they can eat and drink when they like. And all of this is just what is onboard cruise ships – you will also visit some amazing destinations too, even private islands with waterparks and hot air balloon rides.

Read: My review of Norwegian Encore

Read: 10 reasons to choose Royal Caribbean for family cruises

Read: My review of MSC Bellissima

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah

 

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery