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Things Your Traveling Teen or Tween Wishes You Knew

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We’ve traveled to Italy, England, France, the West Indies and much of the Western USA with our teen and tween (and their little brother) and we’ve gathered some useful info along the way that made it much more enjoyable for all.

Lisa’s teen and tween daughters, Olivia (13) and Emma (10) traveling in London in 2009

If your teen or tween wasn’t strung out on hormones and freaked about leaving their friends for a getaway with the family, they might tell you this:

1)  Let me have input! I want to look at the guidebook and the web and tell you at least one or two places I want to go.

2)  Don’t plan a sightseeing visit the day of arrival or days we’re in transition from one location to another. I just want to get settled in to the place we’re staying, eat something, walk around a bit and get to bed on the new schedule.

3)  Jet lag is the worst! Give me a few days to adjust. Don’t schedule a tour at 8:00 am on our first morning. I like sleeping in, so a 10:00 am start time is best for most days.

4)  Give me a camera or video camera to document the trip. The new iPod Nanos have a built-in video camera that is awesome—and it lets me listen to tunes, play games and make voice notes of stuff I want to remember.

5)  Let me have 15 minutes to text or email three friends every day about our day’s adventure. It will help me remember everything and make me feel less homesick.

6)  I like moving around. Walking around a city to the next museum or church doesn’t count. Let’s go hiking, Ziplining, or do a bike or Segway tour!

7)  I’m not a little kid anymore. I want to explore some things on my own. Although I may complain about it, I kind of dig it when you give me a list of stuff to find at a church or museum. It makes it like a game. Rewards of ice cream or gelato are welcome!

8)  Listening to guides in a big group is b-o-r-i-n-g (unless they’re funny & ask a lot of questions and stuff). But, I like listening to those guides-on-tape things. It helps me learn cool new stuff about the places we’re going.

9)  Mix things up. I won’t mind doing some sight-seeing and cultural stuff so much if I know the next day I get to take surf lessons.

10)  Help me find something besides cheesy souvenirs to bring home. It’d be great to build a travel collection I’ll want to keep, even when I’m an adult.

11)  Give me five to ten bucks in each big city (or I suppose I could save my own) to spend on anything I want, cheesy or not.

12)  Let me wander into the goofy stores or museums that you’d rather not enter. You can sit outside and chill.

13)  Say yes once at least once a day when I ask if we might explore a unique-looking street, park, or whatever.

14)  Let me lead the way. I could navigate with a map and a compass. Even if we’re six blocks off, we’ll see things you might not have ever seen otherwise.

15)  Encourage me to try the local cuisine, but don’t get on my case if I want to eat the same, safe dish I’ve discovered, three days in a row. It’s really not worth the argument. I’m eating, right? If I continue to eat, I won’t be so grumpy.

16)  Help me get enough sleep. If we all are well rested, we’ll get along better.

17)  It’d be fun to send myself a postcard from everywhere we go. Or you could buy me a journal or sketch pad to record my thoughts and sketches in.

18)  Let me have an hour with my iPod or Nintendo or other techno gadget every evening.

19)  Check out this Travel Journal feature from (under my BUDGET TRAVEL). I’d like to show off an online scrapbook that WE made together!

20)  Even though I may say I’m not into it, after we get home help me construct a photo memory book. I’ll take it out once in a while and smile over the good times I had with the family.


Lisa T. Bergren is the co-creator and editor of, as well as an author of over thirty books ( She lives with her husband Tim, and their three kids, Olivia (14), Emma (11) and Jack (6) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This year, the Bergrens hope to travel to Mexico, California, Washington and Montana, and are working toward a family sabbatical year in Europe. You can follow her on Twitter at @TheWorldCalls.

What are your tips or questions on traveling with teens and tweens? Let us know in the comments!

  1. This advice was great. I only wish I had done some of these things when we went on a 17 day trip through Europe 20 years ago with our three older kids.

  2. Lisa Bergren says

    Thanks for the opp, Colleen! I’m so proud to be a guest blogger for Travel Mamas!

  3. We are traveling with 3 teens to France this summer. It gave me some good ideas for keeping them engaged and having FUN! Mixing up the history and culture with some more teen-adventure activities is a good idea.

    We actually used used the advice to let the kids pick a location when we took our Tweens to Europe years ago. We asked each kid to pick one sightseeing location for which they would be our family tour guide. Before the trip they did the research, wrote up the fun facts and key background to share with us when we arrived. They did a great job leading us around and it made the trip “theirs”. This has been a lasting memory for each of them.

  4. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Thank YOU, Lisa! What great advice for traveling with teens and tweens. I will definitely use these tips when my kids are a little older!

  5. Giselle Esterling says

    OH crud! i just typed a nice comment and as soon as i submitted it it come up blank! Please tell me it worked properly? I do not want to sumit it again if i do not have to! Either the blog bugged out or i am just stuipd :), the latter doesnt surprise me lol.


    Hi fantastic blog yea nice work our blog will soon be adding reviews on blogs and add them to our websites as the top best 50 blogs to visit we also do reviews on Product Reviews all types of reviews thank you

  7. Cynthia Kessler says

    I think I’d better print this out!

  8. Erin Gustafson says

    As a mother to two teens AND a tween, I would concur with all of these. #1 and #9 especially resonated with out family experiences. Staying patient and not pushing your own agenda and giving up some things for their choices will keep the balance. Most of the time. We like picking out a piece of street art for the children’s walls or bulletin boards – personal and collectible and usually priced right. Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin


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