Have you ever wondered which family travel destinations are best suited to your children based on their ages? While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to travel with kids of various ages, there are definitely places and experiences better suited to some ages than others.
When it comes to travel with teens, think cool trips with lots of social media opportunities. Find destinations that let you navigate the fine line between allowing teens the independence and excitement that they crave and you the quality time you long for. The best family vacation ideas with teenagers feature pop culture touchstones, cultural exploration, and educational opportunities.
Here are 8 places you should visit with your kids by age 18.
Many of Japan’s cultural symbols have earned international recognition. But they’re not always well understood outside of the country. From geishas to ninjas to samurais, your teen will immediately recognize these cultural icons and want to learn more. Taking teens to Japan lets them explore these hidden worlds. Japan also boasts a rich and fun pop culture scene typified by places like the Harajuku District in Shibuya, Tokyo, and the museums, cafes, and shops of Akihabara, which will thrill anime and manga-loving teens. Japan also proves safe for older teens to do a little independent wandering.
Teenagers have the stamina to trek along the Inca trail and will enjoy the impressive social media opportunities around every bend in Peru. History will come to life before their eyes, and they’ll gain a new perspective about the world and their place in it. Awestruck by the sight of Machu Picchu, they’ll spend hours exploring its ruins and enjoying some independent roaming. Lake Titicaca with its man-made Uros Islands, and Puno, the folklore capital of Peru, offer more opportunities to explore authentic Peruvian culture.
Visiting Angkor Wat remains an essential highlight of traveling Cambodia with teens. They have both the energy and agility to navigate Angkor Wat, the largest religious complex in the world. Another Cambodian site worth visiting is the mountain of Phnom Kulen. Attractions include an impressive waterfall featured in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, hundreds of carvings engraved in the sandstone beds of the rivers, and a massive reclining Buddha statue. Created in the 16th century, the Buddha measures 26.25 feet (8 meters) tall making it a one-of-kind Cambodian treasure.
Where do you take the teen who thinks they’ve seen it all? Jordan, the land of mystical monuments and stunning desert expanses. Check out the ancient city of Petra, famous for its rock-cut architecture and the rose color of the stone from which it was carved. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’s climactic ending was shot on location in Petra, so watch the movie with your teen to get them excited about your upcoming trip. And once you’re in Jordan, there’s nothing like a camel ride to Wadi Rum, home of the Zalabia Bedouin.
5) Washington, D.C.
From the National Mall and Smithsonian Institution museums to the shopping paradise of Georgetown, D.C.’s oldest neighborhood, you’ll never run out of things to see with your teen. Check out the eclectic architecture of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which houses contemporary art from Picasso to Warhol. Or, take in the stunning views of the Anacostia River afforded at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals Baseball Team. Rent a paddle boat and head out into the Tidal Basin to gain the best vantage point of D.C.’s famous Japanese cherry trees (in spring) and the Jefferson Monument. And when it’s time to eat, head over to Union Market where your teen can explore a food hall.
6) Paris, France
The Eiffel Tour, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre’s glass pyramid, the Fontaine Saint-Michel in Place Saint-Michel. Your teen will never tire of capturing Instagram and Snapchat-worthy moments in Paris. Whether you rent a bike or stroll the Champs-Elysées, Paris is made for leisurely discovery. Shop the gorgeous boutiques of the Latin Quarter. Soak up Parisian culture at Les Deux Magots, the famous Saint-Germain-des-Prés café once frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, and Julia Child. Of course, no trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Louvre. Even the surliest teen will perk up when eye-to-eye with the Mona Lisa.
Surf, sun, and adrenaline. You can pack it all in, in Hawaii. Start at iconic Waikiki Beach, the purported birthplace of surfing. Or, head out to Punaluu Black Sand Beach on the Big Island where your teen will marvel at the ashy, volcanic sand. Visit Pearl Harbor where history will come to life for your teen as they visit the USS Arizona Memorial, part of the larger World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument. The Hawaiian Islands also boast many adrenaline-spiking adventures such as zip lining at the Akaka Falls. And don’t forget to attend a traditional Hawaiian luau where your teen can learn about Polynesian culture and cuisine firsthand.
Patagonia’s unrivaled natural beauty and unique terrain beckon travelers to explore. Hike through the wild terrain of Chilean Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park or check out its stunning glaciers. On the Argentinian side, discover the wonder of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Known as the “end of the world,” this magical place has attracted explorers and adventurers for centuries. Just a few hundred miles from Antarctica, you’ll marvel at the snow-capped Andes Mountains surrounded by deep blue waters.
Interested in learning more about the best travel destinations by age? Check out our free guide filled with creative travel ideas broken down by age.
Travel with Teens
By 18, most teenagers are preparing to head off to college. So, travel with teens proves particularly sweet and cherished. Still not sure where to go on vacation with teenagers? Pick one of these captivating destinations and consider going on a “teenage departure.” These small group tours cater to teens, offering plenty of chances to explore the world with other kids their age.
At Our Whole Village, we create transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for adventure-seeking families just like yours.