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Where to go next? Travel with tween and teen

Hi all-
Backstory: we had an amazing trip to Italy in May/June with the kids (11 and almost 14), went to Rome, Cinque Terre and Florence, with a day to see Pompeii. It was exhausting but so much fun, and now we all have the travel bug (mostly me but I know the kids want to see more places, too). The question is-where to go next? We were all really excited about Italy, but we don't have a spot picked out for the next trip. The kids have mentioned Germany (no specific cities), London and Paris, but I am sure they can get excited about other destinations as well, and I want to keep open to possibilities I may not have considered, like more off-the-beaten path places. Rome, Florence and CT were all quite crowded, but we planned our museum trips well, and didn't have to wait in lines, so it was tolerable. Really, I didn't mind it too much but would also be happy to find less crowded cities. We are restricted in that we have to wait until school is out and the last day is May 18, so I was thinking of going in late May to avoid the worst of the summer heat and crowds.

If any of you have traveled with tweens/teens and found somewhere to be especially awesome, I'd love to hear about it. If this helps, they especially enjoyed: 1) the Coliseum, 2) Cinque Terre, 3) St Peters Basilica 4) Gelato. They did great in museums, as long as that wasn't all we did, but I think the fountains and architecture were equally impressive as the inside art (we all loved seeing David and Botticelli's Venus etc). I had the idea of watching some of RS videos to get ideas, so we will probably do that but I figured I'd ask the experts here since I'm focusing on places that are appealing to kids (while they are still interested in spending time with us lol). And I know there are some seasoned family travelers. Thanks!

Posted by aquamarinesteph
362 posts

London has a ton of sites that are connected to many popular TV shows and movies - Harry Potter. Sherlock. Doctor Who. Etc., etc., etc. If the kids are into any of those shows, that's always a plus.

Posted by cala
Birmingham, AL
658 posts

London hands down-British Museum has mummies and impressive statues; Tower of London, Westminster Abbey with people buried in the floor, if they like Harry Potter get Warner Brother studios tickets months in advance

Posted by andi
franktown, colorado
1219 posts

Agreed! London is the best!! I've been there several times with both "sets" of grandchildren, ages 9-17 (current ages). Each and every one of them loves the City and all it offers!

Posted by Brad
Greeley, CO, USA
469 posts

Hi Ferrin I have two boys 19 and 16 who have been to Europe six times and Vietnam and Singapore starting in 2004. If you want to private email me I can give you the low down on our trips, the places we have seen etc.

Posted by djp_syd
David in Brisbane, Australia
6944 posts

Amsterdam >> Belgium >> Paris >> London

Easy !!

Posted by ferrin OP
Nashville, TN, USA
287 posts

Thank you all! Sounds like London is definitely a contender! Thanks Brad-I will message you when I get a chance.
Love the RS forum!

Posted by keith
Eagle, CO
239 posts

We have been twice to Europe in the last 2 years with our now 16 and 14 yo boys. 1st trip was similar to yours in Italy which they loved, but another week was in Bavaria and Prague which they also enjoyed. They loved the Charles bridge and walking through streets in Prague. In Germany they liked castles and went to Dachau. Last year we went to Paris and Normandy and Belgium. They both loved the time in Normandy we had prepped before by watching Private Ryan and Band of Brothers as a family and they both want to return and spend more time there. They also loved Paris. Going up the Eiffel Tower, the catacombs, climbing notre dame and the gargoyles, crepes, us letting them try cidre, the army museum, the arc de triomphe. Find their interests and they will have fun.

Posted by jmauldinuu
New Orleans
280 posts

I took a tween to Amsterdam and Bruges a few years ago and she loved it. Suggestions from that trip: Day trip to historical village near Amsterdam to explore, watch traditional artisans at work, and climb up in working windmills; boat ride (take a small open boat tour, not the large canal boat tour!) on the canals; Van Gogh museum; Anne Frank Museum; rent bikes in Bruges and ride out a few kilometers to a village into the countryside (past windmills and friendly farm animals - Rick's book gives the details on this); or take a bike tour from downtown Amsterdam out into the countryside to a cheese factory, and wooden shoe factory, etc. Wax museum (more interesting with teens & tweens along); There's also a fascinating "Museum of the Underground" (or something like that) that tells the stories of young people, local Dutch partisans, who fought against the Nazis. Crepes, waffles, chocolate, yum! (Totally unnecessary to go near the Red Light District if you're on a family trip!) Maybe watch some of Rick's shows about the Netherlands and Belgium and see what you think. Also won't be terribly hot in late May/early June.

Posted by sharon
942 posts

My kids are a little younger ( 12 and 9) and we did 1 week in Paris and 1 week in London this past summer. They loved it. Last year we did a 2 week self drive tour of Ireland ( just the South) and that was hands down our very favourite vacation.

Posted by James E.
USA
7635 posts

Italy is a great start. I always see Rome, Paris and London as the mirepoix of travel. But here lately with all the changes going on; changes in borders, threats and costs, I think its time to broaden interest while still possible.

If I still had children the age of yours i would ........... well, i would jump off a high tower, but as a second choice I think i would do Paris and then something much further east. Or a city further east and something more primitive. We sort of rotate our trips now. Classical and experimental. Architecture and nature. City and adventure. So, right now, i would do any major Eastern European city (Prague, Budapest, Kyiv) combined with something totally off the wall and natural. Like the coast of Montenegro or the mountains of Albania or the Ukrainian Carpathians. or a road trip across Bulgaria. All accessible and safe now, but I'm not sure about in 5 years. Istanbul even; not my favorite but a real education that will stay with them. Jerusalem and Israel even. It doesn't have to be a religious experience to get a lot out of it. The lower costs can be translated into more intense experiences.

I use Budapest as a hub. There are others I am certain. From Budapest you can reach just about every place i named for under $100. What an experience for a young mind. None of their friends will even know where Albania is and your children will have a world insight unmatched in their schools.

Posted by James E.
USA
7635 posts

lanesara46, London is one of my favorite places in the world. There is just so much world and so little time!

Posted by Tom_MN
Minneapolis, USA
1828 posts

It all works, pick any place. Is money a factor? Then don't choose London, Switzerland, or Norway.

Posted by sarah_atx
Texas
134 posts

I think they'd love Barcelona -- architecture, beaches, Gaudi, museums. We really loved it.

Posted by ferrin OP
Nashville, TN, USA
287 posts

Wow-thanks everyone for the great suggestions. This is so exciting, I love travel planning! I am thinking a start in London would be great. They are going to add a nonstop from Nashville to London in the Spring so that makes it even more appealing. We will probably be able to go for about 10 days. I have been to Ireland on a self-driving tour with B&Bs, which was a wonderful trip, but that was before kids. I'd love to go back to Ireland, but kind of want to try a few more places before I go back.
Thoughts on 4-5 days in London, (must have a trip to Stonehenge), and then maybe driving (or a train) to Scotland and spend the rest of the time exploring castles (and Loch Ness?) etc? Or I suppose we could do London and a second city on mainland Europe, there are lots to choose from!
There are so many places I want to see, but I have learned that cramming too much into a single trip is not a great idea, so as much as I want to see Prague, Amsterdam, Paris, Bruges, Munich, Barcelona, Copenhagen (the list goes on and on!) I think that will have to wait for a 3rd (and 4th) trip... :)

I'll start cruising around the Great Britain forum, but would still appreciate comments and suggestions. :)

Posted by Tom_MN
Minneapolis, USA
1828 posts

If going to Scotland after London then fly home from there. It's a waste of time and money to return to London just to fly home.

Posted by ferrin OP
Nashville, TN, USA
287 posts

Thanks Tom- though no expert, I'm not a total newbie...I'll look for open jaw options after we narrow down the itinerary. But a direct flight home is tough to beat. Not a fan of those international connections. We almost missed a flight in May (2 hour layover) bc the customs lines were insane.

Posted by selkie
669 posts

I do think Germany is a bit underrated- lots of interesting things, often quite affordable, and the ice cream is really, really good there. Either a few days in Berlin and all its different types of attractions, or a ramble from Munich through bits of the Alps would be a lot of fun at that age. And while it's not going to be uncrowded, it's probably less of a mob scene than Paris would be.

Posted by cala
Birmingham, AL
658 posts

I won't go until next summer, but York looks like it would appeal to children.

Posted by geovagriffith
1429 posts

I have travelled with kids, including teens and preteens in Europe and Asia.

My Son doesn't remember much of what he saw prior to age 10, but after that he does.

Kids tend to love unique places, as well as places of natural beauty.

My kids loved the canals of Venice, Eiffel Tower, St. Peter's in Rome and loved the Sistine Chapel. Also, they loved the Swiss Alps, the Roman Coliseum.

Art museums became the item the kids could only handle about 30 minutes. Exception, the Sistine Chapel they were in awe of the art.

If you try to explain the historical significance of places, they do remember a lot later in life. My Daughter was a teen and still talks today about how much she learned when I would pull out my michelin guide to explain something.

Posted by Gone
not here anymore
631 posts

this may be a stupid question, but are they studying any foreign languages.......

Posted by ferrin OP
Nashville, TN, USA
287 posts

Thanks for the input Selkie- Germany is definitely a possibility as both kids have expressed interest in WW2. My son likes history and my daughter is a bit fascinated (as I was at her age) by the holocaust and would like to see a concentration camp, though I'm not sure I can handle that.
To answer another question-my son took a little Spanish but my daughter hasn't yet-she'll take Spanish later this year. I'm interested in Spain but it isn't on their list yet.
Thanks again for all the replies!

Posted by Tom_MN
Minneapolis, USA
1828 posts

But a direct flight home is tough to beat.

It can be easy to beat. A simple transfer at Heathrow or Amsterdam or CDG (or Iceland, but that doesn't work for Nashville) is way easier than training to London and having to tube it across town, and finding another hotel to check into for one night, or managing flying back through London on a separate ticket and also a one night hotel stay and shuttle or taxi-- all that's easy to beat by a simple airport transfer.

Posted by Mira
Midwest
1519 posts

I agree that London is great. Also Amsterdam - I think the Anne Frank house would be of great interest.

My kids are a little younger, but we are currently looking at Greece for next summer. Not sure, but they are interested in ruins as well as active things like hiking and swimming, and have learned a little about Ancient Greece in school.

Last summer was Sicily - they loved the ruins, Mt Etna volcano, food markets in Palermo, and a beach day.
Before that was Spain - Gaudi architecture in Barcelona, the Alhambra and Flamenco dance in Granada, and ruined castles everywhere.

Posted by ferrin OP
Nashville, TN, USA
287 posts

Excellent point Tom-I mostly meant that I'd much prefer to leave Europe on a direct flight home, and there are no direct flights from overseas to Nashville right now. But I would definitely be open to flying other routes. We flew through CDG to and from Italy and it was a great airport, love the French! My bad experience was in Detroit on the way home...

Posted by ferrin OP
Nashville, TN, USA
287 posts

Wow Mira-I am envious of your travels! Greece is on my list-and I bet the kids would love that too-my son enjoyed Greek mythology and they both loved the Roman ruins, so I think ancient Greece would be amazing.
I haven't ruled anything out yet--I think we will ask the kids what they want to do once we know for sure we are going somewhere. :)

Posted by lisa
akron, ohio
379 posts

While not Europe, Costa Rica is a great place to travel with kids the ages of your children. There is plenty to see and do, monkeys in the wild, chattering in trees directly above you, catamaran rides with snorkeling and swimming right off the boat, zip lining over a tropical forest, suspension bridges over the forest, thermal pools and the beaches. I traveled there with a 9 and 12 year old and they loved it. An added bonus is that it's a lot less expensive than Europe!

Posted by JC
Portsmouth
1363 posts

there are no direct flights from overseas to Nashville right now

British Airways are set to operate a direct flight from London to Nashville from next May.

I would suggest London. There's so much for all ages and all interests plus the variety of day trips or extended stays outside of London are endless.

Whilst London may be expensive it doesn't have to be. There's a wealth of cheaper options for eating, drinking, accomodation etc plus the travel network is great value for money.

We've travelled extensively throughout Europe with our kids (12 and 10) and both would give different answers to the question of which city did they enjoy the most however both would agree that London comes highly recommended.

Posted by ferrin OP
Nashville, TN, USA
287 posts

Hi JC, yes I know about the plan to have nonstop from BNA to London, I had actually posted about it earlier-it is a major motivation to fly into and/or out of London. If the price is right, anyway... :)

Posted by Mimi
Morrison, CO, USA
698 posts

When my boys were those ages, we did an England trip. In London they loved the British Museum, although at a certain point they had seen enough. They still talk about and want to go back to the Cabinet War Rooms. Bath was a hit, as was Windsor and Stonehenge. We stayed in Bath for 2 nights and in the closest town to Stonehenge for 2 nights so that we could see their Cathedral and drive to Stonehenge and then to see the White Horses. It was nice to get out of the city.

Your kids are lucky and will remember forever.

Have a Great Trip!

Posted by TC
Atlanta
2745 posts

If you do go to Germany have your son check out a site called "Third Reich Ruins" since he has an interest in WWII. Regardless of where you go, try to get the kids involved as much as possible in the planning. That should add to their enjoyment of the trip and decrease the chances of having unhappy travelers.

Posted by ferrin OP
Nashville, TN, USA
287 posts

Thank you Mimi and TC-I was thinking of a trip up to Bath if we do London. I think this week we will start to discuss options with the kids and see where their interests really are! I've been waiting to make sure that their dad and stepmom weren't planning a big trip this coming summer (since we just did Italy this past summer) and he just told me they aren't, so I think I finally have the green light. Yay! I do think they may both want to go to Germany so if that is the case, we will be sure to find a few WW2 related things to do...the mind reels with the possibilities! :)

Posted by bronwen
maplewood, new jersey, usa
808 posts

My tween/teen loved Venice at Christmastime. It was not full of tourists and was his favorite destination.

He also loved train travel. One spring break we landed in Düsseldorf and trained it to Wurzburg and then Bamberg, Nuremberg, Salzburg and Munich. That was a great trip. The Venice trip we started in Munich (Christmas markets) and then Verona, Venice, Bologna and out of Milan.

We have also traveled a lot in Portugal and he loved that too. For us - we like to get as much off the grid as we can. I love places where nobody is speaking English.

Another idea - Eastern Europe. Mine loved Prague and Kraków.