10 Best Vacations for Teens that will Make Memories that Last

This post is written in partnership with Allianz, my preferred travel insurance provider even before they paid me to say so! All opinions are my own.

They say we only have eighteen summers with our kids. In reality, it is even less. When kids become teenagers, athletics, friends, and jobs start stealing them away long before they leave for college. If you want to make the most of the time you have, plan the best vacations for teens that will keep them engaged and the family connected.

It is way too easy to slip into the patterns you find at home where the headphones go on and the phone comes out. Then you are spending time side-by-side, but not together. It doesn’t always take something epic to break those habits, but it does take something special.

We have found that one of the tricks for travel with teens is keeping them busy. It is way too easy for the grumbling and whining to start the second they feel bored. So don’t let them get bored. Keep them moving, active, and interested. Then downtime can feel precious and welcomed.

The other trick requires a bit of a break from technology — for everyone. Because lets face it, we are just as addicted as our kids. I like to plan activities where we are doing things “shoulder-to-shoulder.”

This means we actively doing something together, with no hands left free t hold our phones. This can be skiing, hiking, rowing, or even cooking or crafting.

It also helps if you are in an environment that doesn’t exactly have easy access to WiFi or cellular data. Then it isn’t you telling them to put down the phone. It isn’t even ringing or buzzing, because there is no service. As long as they connect during downtime at some point in the day they will survive. You don’t need to go cold turkey.

To give you some ideas, I’ve put together a list of some of our best vacations with teens and some recommendations from friends.

10 Best Vacations for Teens

Dude Ranch Vacation

trail ride at Nine Quarter Circle ranch

We did a dude ranch vacation at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch in Montana a few years ago and it is still one of our favorite family vacations. There is just something about the way the kids and adults come together and bond over a week long experience in nature.

Dude ranches come in all levels of luxury and amenities so you need to pick wisely to best match your family. I would recommend a ranch vacation for families with tweens and younger teens, unless you call ahead and find a week when many other teens will be visiting. And you may need to find one that offers activities beyond riding like waterskiing, ziplining, hiking, fishing, boating, and more.

National Parks Trip

Girls in Grand Tetons national park

When you are looking to take a break from the busy, technology-filled life, there is no better place than our wonderful National Parks. Yes, teens may still spend more time looking down at their phone than out the window at the beautiful scenery.

This is why you need to stop and get outside. So many parks offer amazing hikes and wildlife viewing. Some may offer activities like horseback riding or kayaking. But often there will be a state park nearby that has even more opportunities for adventure.

Some of our favorites have been Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota (no crowds, beautiful scenery, and great wildlife), Smith Rock State Park in Oregon (amazing rock climbing and not too far from the stunning Crater Lake National Park), Grand Teton National Park (great hikes and lakes), and Custer State Park in South Dakota (as well as Badlands National Park.)

Theme Parks

Butterbeer cart in Universal Islands of Adventure

Yes you may have done the obligatory theme park trip when the kids were young, but it can be a whole different experience with teens. Instead of Princesses and Character Meet and Greets, it is all about the rides and immersive experiences. As the Universal Orlando commercial shows, some parks are more for big kids.

Between the thrill rides, Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and special age 13+ events like Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Orlando is a great pick for teens.

And coming soon, Disney World’s Galaxy Edge will take Star Wars fans to a new high with a brand-new themed hotel and “land” that will make you feel like you are in a universe far, far away.

All-inclusive Resorts

Handstand on beach at Grand Velas

All-inclusive resorts are great for when you want to plan a multi-generational trip to make memories with the whole family. However I have found that it helps to either bring a friend for older teens if they don’t have any family members the same age, or make sure you find a very teen-friendly resort.

Two amazing resorts for teens are the Grand Velas Riviera Maya and Beaches Turks and Caicos. Grand Velas has a tricked out teen club and tons of activities. Beaches is the only resort that I’ve seen that includes activities like snorkeling and scuba diving (as well as a gigantic X Box Lounge.)

Domestic Outdoor Adventure Trips

rafting in Idaho with OARS

Image courtesy of Kimberly Tate from Stuffed Suitcase

National Parks are great but if you want to kick the adventure up a notch, an active adventure trip will keep everyone going. A great option is a multi-day rafting trip with OARS. You will spend most of the day on the river and then camp at night. It is good for families that like to camp or aren’t afraid to try roughing it for a different experience.

Another option that keeps you active but has a little more comfort is a multi-day biking trip with Backroads. You will bike by day through beautiful settings like the Black Hills of South Dakota, and then head to a hotel at night to relax.

International Adventure

Super jeep in Iceland

There are so many international adventure travel destinations that are sure to wow your teens including Iceland, Costa Rica, Argentina, and New Zealand. If you have the budget, Iceland is an excellent choice because of its proximity, amazing landscapes, and fantastic once-in-a-lifetime experiences like glacier hiking, ATVing on a black sand beach, snowmobiling on glaciers, taking a zodiac boat between icebergs, and riding a super jeep through rivers.

Costa Rica is another great vacation destination for moderate budgets with activities including rafting, hiking, waterfall rappelling, and ziplining. If you are looking for a more affordable alternative to Iceland, try Whistler, British Columbia. You can zipline, hike, ATV, glacier hike, and more for much less (especially thanks to the weaker Canadian dollar.)

European Experiences

Pena Palace Sintra Portugal

If your teen hasn’t been to Europe yet, there may be some eye rolls and sighs after too many museums or churches. However, if you find fun interactive cultural experiences, they can learn and have fun at the same time.

Italy, England, Spain, Portugal, France, and Greece are all great for a first trip to Europe and offer recognizable landmarks and historical sites. Companies like Global CommUnity offer experiences like laser tag in Cold War bunkers in Russia and painting in Italy. There are also cooking classes like baking macarons in Paris and unique experiences like learning to row a gondola in Venice. All these experiences help create deeper, more meaningful experiences.

Cultural Immersion

Boundless Journeys Peru

Image courtesy of Boundless Journeys

For a more immersive experience, help your teen gain a better appreciation of the world and different cultures in a non-Westernized country with a strong local culture. A few good “beginning” experiences in cultural immersion would be Japan, Peru (hike the Inca Trail), Thailand (jungle, city, and beach), Israel and Jordan, or, where we are going on spring break — Morocco.

On a cultural trip, your family can see what it is like to be completely out of your element when it comes to language, food, and culture. Many of these destinations also offer opportunities for active adventure and the ability to interact with locals. For example, on our Morocco trip, we are going to take a cooking class that includes a visit to the souk to buy spices and ingredients. We will also be having tea in a local home in a Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains.

Wildlife Experiences

Another experience that brings smiles to teens’ faces is getting to see exotic wildlife up close and in their natural habitat. During the teen years is the perfect time to visit the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, take an African Safari, visit the penguins in Antarctica, or see the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.

These are all bucket list trips that may be best to save for a graduation gift, but if you keep a close eye out for good airfare sales and work with vetted local tour operators you can save thousands.

Service Trip

If your teens need a big dose of reality before heading out into the world, how better to show them the advantages they have in life than with a service trip? The thing about voluntourism is to make sure that your efforts are actually helping the local constituents and not just something that makes you feel good.

Me to We offers student volunteer trips, but also family trips that allow you to work side-by-side with local families to build schools, carry water, and learn the local culture.

What do all these trips have in common besides the ability to create lasting memories? They all represent a significant investment and need to be insured.

Why you Need Travel Insurance

For the last two years I have had an annual travel insurance plan with Allianz Travel. We always think about insuring large international trips that are paid in advance, but there are actually so many reasons to insure every trip.

Each year, I have had to use my travel insurance, both times for small domestic trips. But every time Allianz came through, once when I had to cancel a flight because I got the flu. The other when our flight was cancelled and rescheduled for the following day and I was able to utilize our trip delay benefits.

Here are just a few reasons why you should get travel insurance for your next trip:

Trip cancellation — many trips, especially vacation packages, cruises, safaris, and custom trips require an upfront deposit and have strict cancellation and refund policies. The only way to protect yourself against the unexpected is with travel insurance.

Just make sure that you keep a couple of things in mind. First, if you want “cancel for any reason” insurance, make sure you purchase insurance within three weeks of your first deposit. Second, keep in mind that if you do need to cancel for illness or some other covered reason, you will need to submit documentation. It helps to call Allianz to find out exactly what is needed to make sure you apply for the right kind of claim and that your claim is processed quickly.

Trip interruption or delay — if your trip is delayed due to weather, flight cancellation, or other reason, travel insurance can help cover your expenses such as hotel costs, food, transportation, etc.

International Healthcare — many people don’t realize that often your U.S. health insurance plan does not cover medical care or emergencies overseas. A simple fall or illness can be devastating without insurance, especially if it requires emergency transportation or an upgraded seat on the flight home to accommodate a cast or laying flat.

When traveling overseas, you will want to look for a plan that includes international medical benefits. Keep in mind that if you are engaging in adventure activities (either domestically or abroad), you will likely require additional insurance. Talk to your Allianz representative to find that plan that is best for you depending on where you are going, what you will be doing, and how much coverage you need.

Delayed, Lost or Stolen Luggage —  travel insurance can reimburse you for the purchase of essential items if your luggage is delayed for 24 hours or more. And if it is lost entirely, the baggage loss and damage benefits will reimburse you for the cash value for the repair or replacement of lost items. Just keep in mind that different policies have different levels of coverage so if you have expensive bags and clothes, you may want to look for a plan with high benefits.

TravelSmart app and Travel Hotline — with Allianz you have access to a 24-hour hotline if you need help rescheduling your travel, reaching airlines, or managing your trip. The TravelSmart app also helps travelers with quick access to emergency numbers, a medical translator, location-based access to pharmacies, doctors, hospitals, police, etc. The TravelSmart app is available for everyone, but Allianz customers can also track claims online and contact Allianz customer service.

Keep in mind that plans vary and not all plans include all of these benefits. When purchasing travel insurance, you will need to figure out your needs and work with Allianz to find the best plan with the benefits you are looking for.

If you plan on traveling more than a few times a year, you should also look at the advantages of having an annual travel insurance plan.

Check Allianz plans and get more information about travel insurance.

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Best vacations for teens - ideas on family vacation destinations that are great with teenagers.

 

 

10 best vacations for teens - make the little time you have with your teens count and create memories that will last forever. #familytravel #teentravel #travelwithteens

1 Comment on “10 Best Vacations for Teens that will Make Memories that Last

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  1. Really nice article, thanks for sharing such information. I went on dude ranch vacation Before a couple of years with my family. That was really great experience and beautiful memories. Wide range of activities was there we enjoyed horseback riding, rafting, swimming pool plays, fly fishing, cattle work and many more. The food was awesome and accommodation was also great.

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