The world is brimming with great travel destinations, and traveling alongside your teenager is a great way to introduce them to the wonders of the world, diverse cultures, and new interests while also developing important character-building and organizational skills. Whether you’re planning to train hop across Europe or learn to Salsa in Latin America, here are some great reasons for you to bring your teen, too!
- Traveling Teaches Organization
Any veteran globetrotter knows travel isn’t all fun and games. It takes a lot of planning, dedication, and hard work to make a trip run smoothly. Take a trip to Europe, for example. With so many countries in such close proximity, it’s hard not to want to see as many as possible! With the proper planning, you can experience 6 countries in under two weeks, but it takes some serious organization. You have to keep track of plane, train, and bus schedules, keep travel receipts, and book all your accommodations ahead of time. Letting your teenager help with this logistical puzzle will make any future schoolwork seem like a breeze! Travel is an awesome way to give your teenager firsthand experience organizing and planning things with serious stakes.
- Traveling Means Budgeting
Travel is very rarely a free activity, but with the right amount of research, a dollar can go a long way! Traveling around Europe is much cheaper than the United States, and many other countries have exchange rates favorable to the US Dollar. Still, it’s always important for travelers to have a firm grasp of their funds and how they need to be spending money. Letting your teen handle some of the finances will help teach them the value of money, and they’ll learn to budget accordingly. For instance, if you give your teen a certain amount of spending money, their initial thought might be to spend it on food and souvenirs. But if they want to afford a larger excursion—a day safari, for instance—they’ll have to save their money to buy a ticket. Travel is an awesome way to teach teenagers how their spending choices have consequences and weigh the pros and cons of their purchases.
- Travel Teaches Conflict Resolution
There will certainly be moments during your trip when you and your teen disagree on things. You might want to go explore a local art museum while your teen is more interested in going out to lunch—again! It’s important for teenagers to learn how to compromise and approach conflict with a level head, and travel is a great way to start.
Before your trip, talk with your teen and let them know you’ll be spending a little time doing things both of you want to do. This means each of you will have to make certain sacrifices to make the trip run smoothly. Discipline doesn’t always have to be taught through some sort of teen boot camp, and traveling is a fantastic way to give your teenager experience talking out problems and communicating their concerns. This is something that will not only help your family life run smoother going forward, but will benefit your teen in their future friendships and relationships.
- Travel Shows Trust
More than almost anything, teenagers want to be shown the same trust and independence as adults, and travel is a great way to show them this! Going abroad for the first time is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it takes a certain amount of maturity. By including your teenager in your travels, you’re telling them that you trust them to be responsible and respectful in new situations, as well as stay safe when you can’t be around to supervise. Letting your teenager decide part of your itinerary will also show them just how much you trust them and value their input. This is a seriously important part of what makes traveling so special for parents and teens! This sort of relationship building is one of the best benefits of traveling with your teenage son or daughter.
- Travel Teaches New Points of View
This is one of the most beneficial parts of allowing your teen to travel. At school and at home, your teen is only ever exposed to a limited number of perspectives (mainly yours, their teacher’s, and their friend’s), but that all changes once they experience a new culture! Fostering empathy and understanding for people different from them is an amazing skill that will set your teen apart from their peers and lead to success down the road. It will also likely spark a new set of interests to motivate them to work harder and be more enthusiastic about their future.
Overall, travel is a wonderful experience for you and your teen to share together. Not only will it help the two of you grow closer, but it will serve as a stepping stone on your teen’s journey to becoming a well-rounded, empathetic person. If your teen has the opportunity to travel abroad with you, you should definitely include them! You’ll both be thanking each other by trip’s end.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.