Top tips for traveling abroad with teens and tweens

Family vacations abroad create vivid memories that will last a lifetime. But traveling with teens and tweens can stress even the strongest parenting skills. Along with a desire to be more independent, kids at this age are naturally interested in having new experiences and exploring new places. At the same time, they depend on parents for guidance and care. Following a few family-tested tips can help you plan and create a safe, gratifying getaway that's memorable for all.

Get the whole family involved in planning

Asking teens and tweens to play a role in planning a trip helps them feel more involved in a family vacation. The same goes for choosing activities. It's a family vacation, so everyone's choice should count. Encourage kids to explore the destination online before the trip. Travel blogs, social media and tourism websites are great resources. After you arrive, check event listings in local papers or ask hotel staff and waiters for suggestions on things to do.

Learn the lingo

Traveling abroad is a great way to let foreign language students shine. Consider visiting a country that speaks the language your teens are studying in school and putting them in charge of communicating with hotel staff, taxi drivers, waiters and locals. It's a terrific opportunity to instill confidence. If your family is going somewhere more exotic, encourage everyone to download a free language app and learn a few key words and phrases before the trip. Challenge each other to reach higher levels. Speaking the local language -- even at a basic level -- helps everyone better understand the culture.

Be prepared for the long flight

Surviving an international flight (and avoiding unnecessary stress) is easier when you follow these smart tips:

  1. Get to the airport at least two hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. You may need even more time depending on the size of the airport, the weather, public transportation or if you're traveling during a busy time of year.
  1. To avoid dehydration, buy every family member some water afteryou pass through security so you'll have bottles to refill on the plane. (There are often drinking water taps in the back of the cabin.) If you don't have a bottle, ask a flight attendant for water.
  1. Make sure kids stand up and stretch. Tell them to walk around the cabin before using the restroom. Show them how to exercise while watching a movie.

Understand safety considerations

With a SafeTrip travel protection plan, you can get a pre-trip advisory outlining the health and safety risks at your destination. The travel health notices section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is another good reference for health risks around the world. Kids should know what food is safe to eat and whether it's okay to drink the water. During the trip, be sure to have a plan for knowing where each member of the family is at all times. Older teens may want to explore on their own, so it's a good idea to set regular meeting times and check-ins. Make sure everyone has a watch and knows the name and address of where you're staying.

Let kids sleep in

Teens and tweens need plenty of sleep. You want to make the most of every minute of your family vacation, but sometimes it's best to skip the alarm. If you're an early bird, take advantage of the extra time in the morning to visit the spa, send a few postcards or shop for souvenirs.

Buy travel medical insurance

Planning ahead and staying safe can help everyone avoid accidents and illnesses, but having a good travel medical plan is key. When you or one of your family members needs medical care in another country, you aren't likely to know how to find acceptable medical care. Further, there may be a language barrier. Even if you have a domestic health plan that covers you overseas, you will be expected to pay at the time of service and then save receipts and submit them for reimbursement after you get home. With a SafeTrip Travel Protection plan, you'll be in much better shape. Simply call the 24/7 Emergency Response Center. Our team will help you, in more than 100 languages, find quality medical care nearby and take care of payment at the time of service.

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