“How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives” – Judy Blume
*A TRAVEL-WITH-TEENS SPECIAL*
Finding things to do with teenagers can be challenging. When children reach that age where they are more withdrawn, experience mood swings and find the thought of hanging out with you suddenly extremely uncool, how do you still enjoy holidays? In my opinion, it’s the most difficult stage, the transition between childhood and adulthood and many relationships are tested. It’s vital to still create time together, even if that means fighting off resistance and struggling to think of activities that you can enjoy with teens. Teenagers are still children and need guidance and support more at this age than any age before. They need adults they can talk to, laugh with and who remind them to be children. So what type of breaks allow them to be children but present challenges for them as young adults too?
This 6 weeks holiday, I took my teen god-daughters to Bournemouth for a 2-night beach break in the UK. Seaside towns are a perfect choice because they have rides and amusements that challenge every age, even us adults. Gulp. Overcoming challenges and fears together is a great way to bond. The Great British seaside allows us all to be big kids, playing in the sand and sea and forgetting our more grown-up troubles. So make the most of those last few years of family holidays if you have teenagers and book a mini beach break not too far from home.
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I love Bournemouth because it’s a couple of hours drive from where I live with a great atmosphere and loads to do. A road trip is one of my favourite style of holidays and is especially useful in the UK seeing as we can’t really depend on the weather! I would highly recommend Travelrest Bournemouth for a convenient location, walking distance to the beach and pier, and with reasonable prices for the area. A family room can fit 4 people and costs under £100 per night. We chose a mid-week stay and found the area and hotel suitable for teens and little ones. Perhaps Fridays and Saturdays see more drinking and partying, being a popular destination for hens and stags, so bear that in mind when travelling with children.
On arrival, we dumped our things and headed straight for the water. You don’t need fantastic weather to enjoy the beach. Take a jacket and slip off shoes and run and play in the sand. Beach time costs nothing and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t feel better for hearing the crash of waves or feeling sand in between their toes. Jump in the surf, search for cool shells or stones and leave messages in the sand.
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Bournemouth pier was a 10 minute walk from our hotel. The pier charges for entry in the day but come late afternoon there is no fee. There are endless activities to do here. Ride the ferris wheel and take photos of the pier from the sky. Enjoy the bungy trampolines as the sun goes down and watch the sky change colour. Or if you are feeling really brave, ride the first pier to shore zip line! You climb open steps to reach the take-off platform and are treated to wonderful views at the top for your efforts. Then, enjoy the incredible feeling of flying over the sea as you step off the top and soar back to shore. Wow!
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Arcades also provide hours of fun for teenagers, from driving games to slot machines, the amusements have a way of encouraging interaction and teamwork. You either race against each other or work together to grab that toy that is not really worth the money you throw in the machines in the first place. I like to save the arcades for the evening or for rainy spells, as it really is so much more fun to be outside doing something more natural. It’s also cheaper!
Eating out with teenagers need not be expensive. The great advantage to a mid-week stay is voucher codes. So many restaurants in the UK offer these now so choose where you fancy eating and then simply google the restaurant for a code. This means that a slightly expensive choice becomes a lot more affordable and most teens love eating out. Without the need for voucher codes, there are still reasonable food options in Bournemouth. We loved the Harvester just 15 minutes in the opposite direction to the pier for unlimited salad and bottomless drinks. If you get warm evenings, just grab fish and chips and sit on the sea walls or a nearby bench.
Eating out every night can add up so compromise some of your meals. I like to do breakfast on the cheap. I am more than happy to be lazy on holiday and not rush to get somewhere whilst they are still serving breakfast menus. Most teens would agree with laying in too! So pack a goodie bag before leaving home or stop in a supermarket enroute for fruit and pastries, teas and hot chocolates so you can wake up, flick the kettle on and enjoy breakfast in your pyjamas. Super easy, super cheap and simple fun. A crumbly croissant in bed is so much better when you are not the one clearing up.
When visiting seaside towns in the UK, always have a rainy-day plan in case the weather forces you to spend a whole day indoors. Just a 20 minute drive from Bournemouth beach, you will find Splashdown in Poole. If you’re teens didn’t think you cool before, they might just change their minds now. With 13 flumes to satisfy the daring and the more timid, Splashdown is an in and outdoor water park set on a huge complex with ample parking and an endless choice of restaurants. Tickets are £15 per person but that’s 6 hours of fun and laughter, bumps and bruises, screams and drowning one another. There is no pool for swimming so if you’re not a ride person, sit in the cafe and watch. But I strongly recommend even those who are not sure of the water, buy a ticket and jump on in. There were rides I would not have done had it not been for my teen god-daughters egging me on. I don’t know why we stop jumping in as adults but fight it! Give it a go, face a fear and see what fun you can have. If you go late morning, you will find the last few hours a lot less busy and queues for rides shorter.
Take some nibbles and place them inside your locker so that when you start to flake you can have a quick energy boost and keep going. Then, pick a restaurant to fall into after the 6 hour stint and feed the intense hunger that swimming all day brings on. Aswell as a variety of popular restaurants, the complex Splashdown sits on also houses a fantastic sweet shop, bowling and many other fun things to spend time doing indoors. So if you are really not a swimmer, there are many other rainy day options at Tower Park.
To save some energy and some pennies after a long and exciting day out, a pamper night at the hotel with nail painting, comedy TV and face masks is a much needed respite. Teens love facemasks and you can have great fun painting each other and taking selfies. Relax, unwind and compare bruises whilst reminiscing on the things that scared you and the funny moments from the day’s events. If you have boys, don’t knock a pamper night until you’ve tried it. A bit of lush pampering is not just for us girls.
Bournemouth town centre is only a 15 minute walk through the gardens from the pier. It has a small market with fun stalls from tattoos to portraits. It also has typical high street shops to dive into if the weather is bad. We recommend Shakeaway for smoothies and milkshakes with a real twist. Teens will love choosing their own unique concoction of sweets, chocolates and fruit, waiting excitedly whilst it’s all blended together and then tasting the horror of what they’ve just chosen. This option is a little pricey but a great bit of fun. If you’re feeling brave, try the ‘world’s worst milkshake.’ Urgh!
Travelling with teens doesn’t need to be a headache or hard work. Enjoy your teens whilst they still come on holiday with you because you never know when that last holiday might be. Allow them to try new things and face new challenges with you so that they can more easily overcome things without you too. Gently encourage them to try something different and broaden their minds to adventure and responsible travel. I learn so much when I hang out with my 11 and 13 year old god-daughters. They amaze me every single time and prevent me from shying away from things that make me a little uncomfortable or afraid. Thank you Madison and Kara for keeping me young.
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If now you need more, check out my other U.K. Travel Diaries.
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My god-daughter Madison is fundraising online for her dream trip to Japan!
A HUGE thank you from Madison and from me!