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14 Ideas for Vacations with Teenagers

For parents, the teenage years may be daunting. But they are a formative time, when parents have the opportunity to shape their children into inquisitive, self-aware global citizens who understand their role in the world and the lasting impact they can have. From budding chefs who aspire to culinary greatness after a Parisian cooking class to daredevils who discover surfing as the perfect outlet for their boundless energy in Indonesia, teenagers always come home from trips more open to exploration and surer of themselves. Here are 14 vacations to take with teenagers.

Contact Indagare  for assistance planning a trip or to speak to a specialist about more teen-approved destinations. 

Vacation Idea: Themed Travel

As teenagers develop special interests, family vacations can be planned to allow them to harness their passions in exciting and fulfilling ways. They will be inspired by traveling with specific goals, whether these involve sampling local specialties in Parisian food markets or exploring the graffiti-lined alleys of Berlin. Here, we have outlined a few of our favorite journeys organized around specific themes, from artistic to athletic.

Related: Where to Travel in 2018: Nine to Know

1. Food
For young gourmets, a culinary-focused jaunt through one of Europe’s gastronomic capitals is a perfect match. Teens will enjoy food-centered activities like navigating the markets of Rome, taking cooking classes in the Spanish Basque region or sharing a meal at a buzzed-about restaurant, such as Hija de Sanchez, in Copenhagen. Other teen-friendly culinary destinations include Peru, Israel or Mexico City.

2. Conservation
Contributing to social or environmental progress is one of the most empowering and rewarding experiences for travelers of all ages. As teens broaden their global perspective, a cause-focused journey can be extremely meaningful. From building a school in Belize to learning about ecologically responsible practices in Costa Rica, there are a variety of programs across the world that allow families to engage in local environmental and community programs. The Four Seasons Costa Rica and Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize are great options for a conservation-themed getaway.

3. Art
Teenaged design lovers and aspiring Michelangelos will adore a journey to one of world’s artistic capitals—to view Renaissance masterpieces in Florence, for instance, or discover groovy-cool furniture shops in Berlin. Independent travelers (and trendy teens) might stay at Berlin’s Soho House, which is located on the edge of the city’s hip Mitte neighborhood and has an eclectic showroom and concept store. In the United States, art aficionados could head to the world-renowned Broad Museum, in Los Angeles.

4. Sports and Adventure
From surfing off the coast of Biarritz and horseback riding in the Indonesian paradise of Nihi Sumba to summertime skiing in Chile’s majestic Valle Nevado, bicycling through the back roads of Sicily and hiking the rolling hills of Mallorca, an active journey can be just the ticket for athletic teens (especially those whose eyes glaze over during historical city tours). These getaways combine physical adventures for them with quieter options for other family members who want to relax and enjoy their surroundings.

Related: 9 Untouched Places to See Now

5. Languages
For teenagers, applying their linguistic learning in the real world is invaluable in developing their skill sets. Chatting with an expert guide during a visit to Florence’s Uffizi or while navigating the hidden food markets of Barcelona can help them expand their vocabulary and master grammatical niceties while deepening their appreciation of the local culture.

6. Boat Trips
Offering privacy, flexibility and adventure, chartered boat trips are great ways to discover off-the-beaten-path destinations with teens. Yachts can be fully staffed with chefs, babysitters and special instructors to provide five-star amenities in far-flung places like Croatia, Greece, Norway and Alaska. Alternatively, families can opt for one or two crew members, affording teens (and parents) the opportunity to put their sailing skills to the test.

Vacation Idea: Unforgettable Adventures

The teen years, when school vacation schedules still make it easy to wrangle the entire family together, are ideal for far-flung trips. Teens are old enough to sleep in rooms by themselves and manage (mostly) on their own, so big-ticket trips like African safaris or excursion-packed New Zealand adventures should be at the top of your list (the best time to visit is during their summer, November—March). Now, too, is a great time to visit or revisit some of the world’s great destinations, like Paris and Italy, and introduce your children to the more sophisticated elements of each—foie gras, beach clubs on the Amalfi Coast and guided tours of museums and ancient sites. Here are some of Indagare’s top adventure trips for the teenage set.

Related: The Top 10: Wilderness Resorts

7. The Ultimate Adventure: New Zealand
Whether you picture helicopters perched atop glaciers, Lord of the Rings characters galloping in front of soaring mountain ranges or plush super-lodges, New Zealand is a destination that conjures strong images. It’s also one of those rare places where the reality surpasses the fantasy, from the drop-dead beauty of the landscapes to the friendliness of the locals and the breadth of experiences. New Zealand requires a lot of time to explore properly, making it a perfect summer or winter holiday destination for active families.

8.  An Otherworldly Experience: Iceland
With its rugged terrain—including rocky lava fields whose resemblance to lunar landscapes led Neil Armstrong to practice moonwalking on them—this compact island nation, just 40,000-square-miles in area, packs a serious punch and is an adventure traveler’s dream. A dynamic place to visit all year round, Iceland offers thrilling activities like scuba diving between tectonic plates, riding fuzzy Icelandic horses along the coastline, surfing (albeit in chilly waters) and some of the world’s most awesome heli-skiing.

9. The Bucket List-Topper: Safari
It is a shame to visit Africa when your children are too young to remember seeing a lioness nuzzle her cubs in the early morning light or take in the vast Serengeti from a hot-air balloon. Safaris, whether in Botswana, known for its water- and land-based activities and super-pampering camps, or South Africa, where they are easily combined with time in Cape Town and the winelands, can be found to suit travelers of all styles and interests and make for some of the most memorable vacations you will ever take.

Related: Five-Star Stunner: Deplar Farm

10. Cultural Immersion: Peru
Peru is one of South America’s most family-friendly destinations, offering a variety of landscapes, flora, fauna and cultures along with a multitude of active pursuits and culinary treasures — even the pickiest foodies will be impressed by the cuisine in Lima and Cusco. Among its greatest attractions, though, is its incredibly rich history. Teens will have learned about the Incas in school by now, and while Machu Picchu remains the major draw, travelers should also consider spending time at Lake Titicaca, believed to be the birthplace of the Incan people, and on the Amazon River, one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth.

11. The Total Package: Italy
Italy has it all: a glamorous lake district, magical Venice, romantic Tuscany, historic Rome, charming Florence, not to mention picturesque islands that dot the coast, and charm, with family-run trattorias and wild landscapes. The couture capital Milan draws fashionistas, while posh Capri is an elite retreat and Sicily is a road-trip paradise. It is best to introduce children to Italy at a semi-young age; it is a destination that they will continue to request—this is the home of pizza and pasta, after all.

12. The Grand Dame: Paris
As flavored as a delicate macaron (preferably from the venerated Pierre Hermé), Paris, with its many arrondissements, can be explored over and over. Teenagers are at last old enough to appreciate the haunting beauty of the Mona Lisa, in the Louvre (or explore the museum on a private treasure hunt), and see more in the cathedral of Notre Dame than the setting of a Disney cartoon. They’re still young enough, though, to enjoy the old-fashioned carousel in the Jardin des Tuileries. Day trips to Versailles, Giverny and even Normandy, plus meals at Angelina and Le Récamier will ensure that your family never tires of Paris’s charms. Don’t miss a stop at Berthillon for the ultimate crowd-pleaser: ice cream.

13. A Thoughtful Journey: Japan
Japan is a country of contrasts, and to fully discover its nuances and highlights, travelers should explore both the high-tech, urban landscape of Tokyo and the serene and ancient temples and Zen gardens of Kyoto. Harajuku girls snap selfies next to women of the same age who spend all but two days a month training to become geishas. Visits to sumo wrestling matches, food tours, calligraphy classes and an overnight at art island Naoshima are just some of the many ways to experience perhaps the most distinctive culture in the world. A destination that requires patience and thoughtfulness, Japan is best visited with older teenagers.

14. Off-the-Beaten-Path
Many of Inadgare’s favorite vacations involve hotels so spectacular they warrant planning an entire trip around them. They include Montana’s Ranch at Rock Creek, a five-star summer camp for adults; and British Columbia’s Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat, offering glamping and immersion in nature. These properties are seriously expensive, but worth it for the memories your family will form.

Contact Indagare  for assistance planning a trip or to speak to a specialist about more teen-approved destinations. 

– Emma Pierce on June 3, 2018

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