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Traveling with teenagers: 7 good tips for traveling with young adults

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How do you travel with teenagers and young adults so that you all have a good trip? Here are 7 tips for how you can have a wonderful family trip.
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Traveling with teenagers: 7 good tips for traveling with young adults is written by Mette Ehlers Mikkelsen.

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7 good tips for a good trip with teenagers

Traveling with teenagers can sound like a challenge. How do you get your children to look forward to traveling with their parents? How do you get the whole family to have a good travel experience when the family also consists of young adults?

How do you get your teenagers and young adults to still want to travel with us parents? 

Here are my top five tips for some of the greatest experiences in the world based on my own many travels with my three children over many years. My children are: Ella 15 years old, Lærke 20 years old and Nicolai 22 years old.

We have always traveled together and love it, and there is a difference between traveling with small and large children. 

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Animals are always a good idea

Encounters with animals are always unique experiences when traveling with children. Traveling with teenagers and young adults is no exception. Here you can even have far greater shared experiences. 

So my first advice is to let the animals show you the way to great shared experiences.

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Around the Faroe Islands with puffins

Faroe Islands with the island of Mykines and all the puffins has been a really good destination for my young adults and me. We left three years ago. Here I rented a car and then we drove around the islands.

On this trip with teenagers, I was still the only one with a driver's license. So the agreement was that the young people would shop in the supermarket in the evening when we arrived. Then they cooked a hot dinner and checked on lunch with rye bread and cold meats for the next day. In the meantime, I got some rest after driving in tunnels.

It was also the first trip where they took over the many hikes on slopes and I got a hand. They still talk about it as something that really built some self-esteem.

The island of Mykines offers the most magnificent experiences with the beautiful birds with the colored beaks. It is only available in good weather, so I booked two nights in a private house via airbnb early in the trip. Then we could rebook and be stuck if the weather meant that not even Faroese would sail there or from there. 

The fact that we slept there as some of the only ones made for the most unique mornings in the middle of flocks of thousands of puffins, where it was just us before others arrived by boat. 

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Animals in South America: Butterflies and polar bears

We have also had many other adventures with animals.

One of the most adventurous places in the world for me is Iguazu Falls on the border between Brazil, Argentina og Paraguay. For me, it was great to experience the thousands of butterflies of all colors that sat on our hands, hair and feet.

When we were there, Nicolai and Lærke were only 4-5 years old. A polar bear came running from the thicket and stole Lærke's bag with a lollipop in it.

The polar bears and the butterflies mean that today is one of Ella's dream places to visit.

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More animals: Safari is always good on your trip with teenagers

There are also plenty of animals on safari Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda or South Africa, and safari is one of the greatest things you can experience together.

Elephants, giraffes, rhinos and buffaloes are great experiences in every way. Here it is especially best with older children, as they can understand messages to stay in the car, be quiet on safari and so on. It's actually even better with teenagers and young adults.

In many places, children actually have to be 6 years old to come along. 

In the same category of drømmerejser is a tent trip through Botswana with overnight camping in the Okavango Delta. For the young people and me, it was a magical journey that seemed far more technically difficult than it actually was. We chose one of the so-called 'overland tours' in Africa.

The classic tours start in Cape Town in South Africa, drive north to Namibia's red sand dunes with a safari along the coast. From there you drive across Botswana from west and east to the Victoria Falls Zimbabwe and on back towards South Africa again.

The young people and I got seats together on the bus, and every evening we pitched two tents - and every morning we took them down again.

We helped cook and wash dishes. But basically it was easy because it was a group trip. Group travel is more expensive, but at the same time significantly easier. 

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Say yes when traveling with teenagers

My second piece of advice is simple, and requires the most of yourself.

When your young adults ask if you want to join Phillipines and swim with whale sharks, so say yes without hesitation. The same also applies when they suggest that you just go to a festival on the same island, and the festival is also visited by up to a million people.

So say yes one more time and let your teenagers show you the way with a local bus.

Lærke and I had such a trip in January 2023. Here we actually each paid for our own trip, and when I then wanted to upgrade the room or the transport in relation to a SU budget, I covered the extra expense.

A hike to see the mountain gorillas has to be mentioned at the end.

It is expensive, but also a huge experience in Uganda og Rwanda. It is not for small children. Young adults, on the other hand, can give you a helping hand when you have to muster the strength to get there. And then again when you are so tired that your legs shake on the way down, and the mountainside is steep and muddy. 

Animals can of course also be experienced with a more affordable budget on fishing trips and nature walks, aquariums and urban zoos.

The most important thing is that you are together about it, interested in it, and that the young people are present.

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Take an interest in the world of your teenagers 

Teenagers have many fun interests, and my third piece of advice is that it is important to integrate those interests into the trip.

For example, visit the headquarters of an IT company in Silicon Valley. Take a guided tour in the tracks of Game of Thrones in Croatia or Harry Potter in Edinburgh, Scotland. Or go hunting for their favorite author in a giant bookshop in London.

Nicolai has brought so many books home from boats South Korea og London, that I thought we got overweight on the planes. The trick is to have them in hand luggage and do enough strength training to make it look nice and light.

Find a colorful dress at a local market somewhere in Africa. We had dresses sewn into them Cape Verde by a Senegalese tailor – he sewed a smart tight-fitting t-shirt and skirt for Lærke.

I even got an ankle-length skirt with lots of fabric for me as a grown mature woman and mother, as befits his culture.

We still laugh about that when we put them on. 

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Distribute responsibility and show trust when you are traveling with your teenagers

Young people are often much better at navigating technology. So my fourth piece of advice is to give the young people some control over just that.

They quickly discover which bus you can hop on, according to Google, when your legs are tired and you've walked half of Rome. For example, they have control over travel apps.

Then they have probably just found the app, TicketAppy, where you can buy tickets for just 1,5 euros per person in Rome. Next, they have also found out that you collect the tickets first and wait to activate them until you get on your bus.

That's exactly what my daughter was able to tell me when I was in recently Rome. I was there with a 70-year-old friend who was still able to walk around after cards. I introduced Maps.me with downloaded maps that work offline and Uber.

A single conversation with Lærke via WhatsApp just gave the instructions here. At the same time, we also got another app for bus journeys outside the center of Rome. 

Travels around Seoul, London, New York, Sydney and so on are also obvious to let the young people be the ones who navigate the metro, train and bus. It's more fun and it builds more self-esteem to do it here than around Denmark.

The young people need to get out of the security of the area they live in and out to the edge of their comfort zone. Of course without getting into too deep water. 

My three were teenagers when they excitedly took me around Seoul. They were interested in South Korea youth culture, which is a huge industry of music, dance, fashion, beauty products and food. Therefore, the agreement was that Lærke found the area where we were to live, and then we found a cheap Airbnb apartment together.

We ate street food, visited all the different districts, experienced street dancing and experienced their fashion. At the same time, the route was laid so that I could see some temples that were UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I was also supposed to have a single trip to the demilitarized zone on the border North Korea.

The rest were again the young people bubble tea, dumplings, noodle soup and poke bowls - that was before bubble tea really came to Denmark. 

What a pleasure to travel with teenagers.

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Economics and emotions are connected 

Finances and emotions are not two different separate things. One's mood is not good on a trip if one's stomach hurts because the money is pouring out of the wallet. This should worry any responsible parent when traveling with teenagers as well as older and younger children, so my fifth piece of advice is to think about the finances together.

Be honest and help the young teenagers understand how fast the money goes if you have to have pints of aloe vera drink and smoothie at every stop instead of filling your water bottle. Even a road trip through The Balkan countries, which is otherwise good value for money, can run up that way.

If possible, give them an amount of the kind they can manage themselves. Then they discover for themselves how far they can actually go Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Romania og Bulgaria for a few hundred kroner. 

A trip in zipline might as well be a birthday present as a new pair of shoes. It gives perspective on costs. 

A journey around Alaska or Faroe Islands might be possible. This depends on the young people having understood that the more expensive travel destinations require that you buy food in supermarkets and have a picnic for lunch. At the same time, you cook at home in the morning and evening.

It also helps both the economy and the ownership if you rent a small car and book an apartment, for example via Airbnb, where the whole family can be rather than, for example, having to have two double rooms in a hotel.

Young people most often think that it is nice to be involved in choosing based on interior design and location. They can, for example, get a room of their own or a sofa next to a giant screen in the living room, just as buying local food in the supermarket also gives them the opportunity to have a personal touch.

One of the regions in the world with the best value for money is South East Asia, which luckily is also fabulous with big kids.

The jungle with temples in it Cambodia can form the setting for both Lara Croft and Indiana Jones movies. This is something the young people will probably recognize.

                                                                 

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Eat your way through the world together

Eat sushi in Japan, pizza in Italy, noodles in Vietnam , dumplings in China and tortillas in Mexico. Also, say yes to a single overstuffed Dunkin' Donut in USA – it makes good sense when you're traveling with teenagers.

Young adults have good appetites, and good food is something to relate to. Make pickiness something only little kids have.

As teenagers and young adults, they have the age to be bold and curious, regardless of how they've eaten before. Make trying something that takes courage a rite of passage. That's my sixth piece of advice.

After this, the young people will come out as adults or globetrotters on the other side.

Southeast Asia is good for that sort of thing. There are big black spiders in here Cambodia, beetles and worms in Thailand, scorpions or snake brandy i In Stock.

Also budget-friendly Balkans we challenged ourselves with sheep's brains for Nicolai's birthday in Albania.

Another year it was snake and toad China, and sometimes it's just what the locals actually eat in different places. 

For example, let them choose that particular dish in South Korea, where you choose a small squid and chop it so fresh that the small pieces of the arms with suction cups still move on the plate; so fresh that they stick a little firmly in one's mouth. If that's what they've read about, try it. 

My practical and humorous son recommends that you always travel with antibiotics and anti-constipation medication. Just as a precaution.

Travel responsibly and never eat bushmeat like monkeys or turtles or any endangered animal species.

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Be active and respect the need for breaks

Are the young teenagers into diving and snorkeling? Skiing, cycling, camping, beach, swimming or yoga? Then it can be good shared experiences. Should different sports be in focus, I have friends who have been happy with La Santa Sport. 

Of all that, I am clearly most into hiking, snorkelling, dancing and practicing yoga. 

At the same time, it is good for everyone to accept that everyone needs some alone time. You must be allowed to just be yourself with your book, kindle, mobile, Netflix and maybe one's friends at home via social media. That's my seventh piece of advice.

My traveling life has been one tour de force in great experiences, but no one can afford all experiences. Not at all every year and not at all if you also prioritize house, car and new gadgets. All priorities are in order. It is extremely privileged to have anything to prioritize at all.

With me, we have prioritized differently over the years, but nevertheless prioritized travel for a total of 22 years with children. They are now teenagers and young adults. In recent years, all the budget, apart from the basics, has gone to travel.

This is why it has been possible to have so many and such great experiences throughout the lives of the young adults.

We have also traveled three generations together and everyone has loved it. 

Hopefully in 10+ years as the next generation I will have the opportunity too, because traveling and thinking, planning and executing them is in my blood. 

Enjoy your trip with teenagers - it will be an unforgettable trip.

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About the author

Mette Ehlers Mikkelsen

Mette Ehlers Mikkelsen is the Danish woman who has traveled to the most countries. She wants to visit them all and has always brought home great experiences, even from the world's least visited countries, where it is more often the meetings with the locals than the actual attractions.

Mette is among the very few women in the world who aim to travel to all the countries of the world and actually do so. Only approx. 300 have visited all the countries of the world. In comparison, approx. 600 people have been in the room. Approx. 5.000 have climbed Mount Everest, and there are even more who have done it without oxygen than there are travelers who have visited all the countries of the world. Of the 300, only 10% are women, and of those only 4 have been mothers. When Mette travels so much with three children, it is not just in Denmark, it is unique, but globally.

Mette only needs to visit North Korea to have visited all the countries of the world. She has visited the border country between North and South Korea together with the children in the demilitarized zone. But even if the Guinness Book of Records approves it as a visit, she wants to experience the country properly, as she has with all other countries.

The children have always traveled with them. Lærke has traveled to 123 countries, while Ella and Nicolai have visited 85-90 countries. They have traveled with them since they were very small.
Nicolai and Lærke traveled with us on an 8-month round-the-world trip when they were 3-5 years old. Thus, the journeys are part of their lifestyle and identity. The journeys have developed in step with the children. The trips are customized so that all participants enjoyed it.

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