Traveling abroad with a teen is a whole different ball game.
The good news it that traveling abroad with a teen is actually much simpler then traveling with toddlers. There are a few tricks that help keep everyone on the right track (and those teenage hormones in check).
As I write this I’m sitting on an airplane next to my sister. I feel very privileged to be returning from a week long adventure in Israel with my oldest son, my father, my sister and her oldest son. The return flight from Tel Aviv, Israel to Boston is unbearably long. I’m trying very hard not to calculate the number of hours I’ve been sitting.
The week was spectacular. We jumped head first into a culture that is overflowing with history. This week wasn’t the height of the travel season in Israel, yet the sheer number of visitors was mind boggling. People from every culture and religion had traveled from all over the world to get a glimpse of some of the most significant religious and historic sights.
This was my second trip to Israel. My father and sister have each been a few times and this was the first time for both boys. If you want to see a few photos of our journey make sure you’re following me on Instagram, where I tried to document some of our trip.
The sheer number of facts and stories I have packed into my brain right now is overwhelming. The true test will be revealing how much I’ve retained.
Western influence has really moved in since the last time I visited Israel in 1989. Even the golden arches of McDonald’s have made their way onto the landscape of one of Israel’s top tourist attractions-Masada. But rich history and culture still prevail.
Traveling abroad with two teen aged boys added a new spin onto our trip. Viewing a country and culture through their eyes was sensational. I giggled, jumped, ran, hiked and climbed.
In hindsight there were a few things that made traveling abroad this trip seamless and perfect for our two teens.
1. Spend time talking about the trip before you leave. As a family we spent a lot of time discussing where we were going. I pulled out a globe and had my son find Israel just to provide a little perspective on the distance we were travelling. We also spent time talking about the length of the flights (the first leg was 7 hours and the second leg was about 4 hours). My intention was to cut down the number of times I was asked “how much longer?”
2. Prepare for jet lag. Israel is 7 hours ahead of Boston. Once we boarded the plane we changed our watches to the destination time zone. It was tempting to continually count backwards to figure out what time it was at home, but we tried not to do this. The only time it was necessary was when we were calling home (Viber was fantastic for free calling and texting).
3. Have a hands on experience each day. This was key. Each day our guide scheduled an activity completely geared towards the teens. We rode on camels, we hiked the most challenging (and vertical) hike I’ve ever been on, we floated in the Dead Sea. On our way home I asked both boys what they remembered most about the trip and these adventures were at the top of their list (and my list too).
4. Make time for meals and snacks. This was one of our biggest challenges. With so much to see lunch didn’t always fit into the picture. This was a mistake. Two hungry, cranky teens is not ideal when traveling. Try to schedule time for lunch and snacks and if that doesn’t fit into the schedule make sure to pack a few snacks to bring along.
5. Get enough sleep and drink enough water. Sleeping through the night for the first two nights was difficult. We chugged water before bed and tried to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. We were picked up early each morning so a good nights sleep was important.
Would love to hear your tips for traveling abroad with a teen.