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How to manage (and enjoy) long haul travel with teens


Teenagers. They can be difficult. Travel with teens is much easier with these tips from a mum who has been there, done that. 

Nicki Bush travelled long-haul with her 13-year-old. She learnt these lessons along the way. 

Travel with teens

Long haul travel with teens needs planning. Picture: Shutterstock

Engage teenagers in travel decisions

If you allow teens to be part of planning the trip, they feel like they are part of it. Although they may appear disengaged, they will enjoy the trip more if they feel that their needs are being met. 

Give them freedom 

Teenagers can get moody. They need the freedom to relax. They need their space. Give them tasks such as nipping down to the hotel reception to ask a question, or to order a drink. Allow them to go to the swimming pool at the resort without adult supervision (if they are a good swimmer of course).  Set clear guidelines and if they abuse the rules explain the consequences and put the responsibility back on them.

Travel with teens

Give teenagers the freedom to explore. Picture: Shutterstock

Give them cash

Give your teenager a budget and let them decide how to spend the money on their trip. Get them to pay for their own goods with the local currency and get them to work out the exchange rates. Ask them to keep a record of money spent and introduce the concept of budgeting. This may be a useful skill to have later on in life.

Research the next destination 

If your trip involves multiple destinations get your teenager to research the next destination and get them to tell you what they want to see when you get there. Even the best-organised trip will have space for some side trips.

Travel with teens

Let teenagers do some of the trip planning. Picture: Shutterstock

Compact Travel Games

Uno cards, Rory’s Story Cubes and Pass The Pigs are all great compact games to have up your sleeve to help relieve teenage boredom, especially if your flights are delayed and the electronics have run out of power.

USB Charging Leads 

Mobile phones are important to teenagers. They can use them to take photos, listen to music, post on Instagram or play games. But all that activity will suck a phone battery fast. Make sure you always have a USB charging lead and a portable power bank in your hand luggage or backpack for day trips. You may be surprised by just how many places have USB charging ports – at the airport, on planes or trains and even on some coach services and Ubers.


Free WIFI 

When logging into some free Wi-Fi services you require an email address. But do you want your child’s account to be bombarded with possible spam after you have left that establishment?

Have a talk with your tech-savvy kids before they start logging on to Free Wi-Fi services and ask them to show you the requirements before they sign in. It might also pay to give them an overview talk about technology security before you embark on your trip.


Keep teens separate on flights. Picture: Shutterstock

Seating on flights 

On long hall flights, everybody gets tired. Siblings can fight. Separate your kids by having an adult in-between. This allows the kids to stretch out and reduces the risk of an inflight squain-flight squabble. 

Memory Foam Neck Pillows 

Even if your child doesn’t use it around their neck they can use it on the armrest. They are bulky but do work and allow some extra comfort on all types of travel including air, cars and trains.

Noise Cancelling Earphones 

Make sure your kids have a pair each, especially the ear bud ones. This will allow they to block out some of the noise and possibly grab a rest when on a long journey.


Noise cancelling headphones are a teen travel essential. Picture: Shutterstock

Entertainment Packages on airlines

The Budget airlines make you pay for an entertainment package. Make sure you pay for it before you get on the plane as it is cheaper. Even if it is an overnight plane trip where you think they’ll likely sleep, it is still worth the extra money just for the peace of mind.


Leave some of your souvenier shopping until you get to the airport. Sometimes getting the kids to buy their last minutes souveniers in the airport departure shops can help kill some time. It also uses up your excess foreign currency. 


Teens can use their own budget to buy gifts. Picture: Shutterstock


All parents wonder if the choices they have made are going to be ok for the teenager. After each tour or destination check in with your child and see what they thought. Was it too childish? Did they find it interesting? This will allow you discuss with them what they liked and didn’t like so you can help choose better at the next destination.


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