Drag that wanderlust out of the too-hard basket, dust it off, and get travelling with your teenagers. We chat with Nicole Edgar, who has a tip or two about making the most of overseas trips with older children.

By Sophie Cullen

Some might call Nicole Edgar’s itinerary ambitious, others plain crazy. She insists that with the right ingredients, it was a walk in the park. In fact, parks weren’t the only stops covered by Nicole and her 10 and 13-year-old daughters on their recent exploration of Europe. The family ticked off London, Paris, Munich, Salzburg, Zagreb, Ljubljana Dubrovnik, Venice, Florence, Rome and a cruise of the Mediterranean. Here are Nicole’s top pointers for easy international travel with teenagers and older kids.

Nicole and her family in Venice Credit: Nicole Edgar

  1. Get your teenagers involved in the planning

Giving teens a role in the lead-up to your trip is a fail-safe way to snag their interest, insists Nicole. “Ask them what they want to see and do,” she says. Looking at guidebooks and maps together is a good start. Placing teenagers in charge of their belongings and delegating responsibility during the trip is also important.

  1. Shake it up

Combine new experiences with creature comforts, learning opportunities with photo opportunities. “We mixed major tourist icons like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, with Disneyland Paris and German war history,” says Nicole. “Our trip was educational, it was scenic, it was touristy and it was fun.”

Be sure to stop in at tourist favourites like the Trevi Fountain Credit: Nicole Edgar

  1. Make it relevant

Europe makes it easy to experience history, literature, art, music and sport.  “My daughter was studying Pompeii at school,” says Nicole. “When we went to Pompeii she was so engrossed in what she was seeing because she could relate to it and was interested in it.”

  1. Keep travel diaries

“I’ve always had my kids write travel diaries in their own words,” says Nicole. “They can keep a memento of their perspective at that age – what they got excited about and what comments they made about things.”

Girl with headphones and backpack writes in travel diary

Keeping a travel diary is a great way of remembering your trip Credit: MRProductions

  1. Bring electronic devices

While usage should be limited during the day, Nicole is all for her kids packing their iPads and cameras. She sees devices as a tool for keeping teenagers engaged and as a welcome distraction after lots of sightseeing. “Get them to take photos of the trip from their perspective and keep in contact with their friends,” she says. “Load the device up with books and movies to help kill time on long flights and train journeys.”

  1. Start a tradition

For Nicole’s family, this has been to get a selfie in front of every major monument they visited. “We’ve got a family selfie at the Eiffel Tower, on a Venetian gondola, on the London Bridge and the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria. We’ve got good memories all over Europe!”

A family of four sit in a gondola on a canal in Venice

A family selfie on a Venetian gondola Credit: Nicole Edgar

  1. Keep it simple

When it comes to logistics, straightforward is always the way to go. “We travelled through Europe by train, for example,” says Nicole. “Everywhere I picked to stay was within a 10-minute walk of the station, saving us money on transfers.”

  1. Slot in time to relax

Treading the cobblestones and seeing major monuments in the peak of summer heat is exhausting. “I tried to pick accommodation that had air-conditioning and swimming pools, so we could get home, jump in the pool and cool off,” says Nicole. “Try not to be constantly on the go; allow some downtime.”

Using public transport is a great way to get a feel for a city Credit: Niki Bush

  1. Have an emergency plan

Nicole gave her girls tags with contact numbers with their international codes, in case they got lost. She recommends having a plan in case you get split up in crowded places, and also having the hotel address and telephone on hand. Carrying the hotel’s business card in a pocket or on a lanyard around their necks is one suggestion.

  1. Have plenty of food

Nicole recommends starting the day with a good breakfast. “If breakfast was included,” she says, “we might take some fruit and an extra croissant in a snap lock bag for a snack.”

Packing snacks is a great travel hack, but be sure to enjoy local treats and restaurants like this one in Austria Credit: Nicole Edgar

11. Allow independence

Nicole’s eldest was 13 at the time of their trip, but for older teenagers especially, freedom from Mum and Dad can be a relief for everyone. Where possible, Nicole booked interconnecting hotel rooms so the family could have separate but secure bathrooms and bedrooms. She suggests setting ground rules but allowing teenagers to come and go to the pool within a resort, for example.

Nicole Edgar is an accredited Travel with Kidz Travel Manager. For great deals and booking information, contact Nicole here.