Top 5 Teen Travel Mistakes

Two Scoops Travel's Top Teen Travel Mistakes

We moms don’t often admit our errors.  We are a proud bunch.  But in the spirit of happy family travel for all, we are sharing some of our most glaring mistakes (according to our kids, of course).  


We’ve all been there.  We only have 24 hours in New York City and we want to see everything!  Statute of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, 911 Memorial, the Metropolitan Museum, Central Park….  

When traveling with kids, this is one of the times when less is more.  I am notorious for packing in too many activities.  If it fits on my spreadsheet then it’s possible, right? 

Two Scoops Travel's Mistake #1 Over Planning

So here’s what we do.  We plan our trip with everything everyone wants to do.  Then we highlight our top ‘can’t miss’ activities.  Then subtract half.  It’s like a crazy algebra problem, we know.  

There are a couple of benefits to this method.  First - it makes everyone focus on what they really want to do or see.  Second - by planning everything in the beginning, you will have a few back-up activities ready to go in cases of unexpected closures or inclement weather.


Vacations often involve a lot of walking.  Sometimes you just can’t avoid this.  

Similar to when we planned travel when they were toddlers.  The formula then was snack, play, nap, repeat.  For teens, you might tweak this formula slightly:  snack, play, WiFi, repeat.

Teen Travel Mistake #2 - Too Much Walking

Remember your teens have a set amount of energy every day.  Spend it all walking from the cheaper parking lot and there will be nothing left for that amazing hike to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  

Plan your transportation options to have a good mix of walking and riding.  If you notice your group is fading, hail a taxi or call a car service.  Happy travelers lead to happy travels!  Sprinkle a few coffee shop stops into your plan.  We love 2 Scoop Stops - places that offer a dual benefit: coffee for parents / free WiFi for teens.  


Several hundred years ago someone did something important and built/wrote/painted/carved something impressive that someone is interested in.  

But probably not your teen.  

Teen Travel Mistake #3 - Too Much History

I am a huge art history buff and could spend my entire vacation in museums gazing in admiration at the works of the masters.  My kids?  Not so much.  

How do you find the perfect balance?  

It takes some sleuth-work on your part.  Think about the things that peak the interest of your kids.  Maybe one kid likes science and all things mechanical.  Find a museum that speaks the same language.  For example, we have a science nerd in our crew, so during an upcoming trip to Italy we are working in a Galileo museum.  

We also recommend taking kid-friendly tours through big museums.  The tour guides tell a story through the artifacts, which seems to keep everyone engaged.  Plus we get to see more than we would have on our own.


This complaint is one we hear from all our kids across the board, regardless of age or interest (and occasionally from the husbands, too).  

Sorry, guys.  We are planners!  It’s our curse.

We have {reluctantly} learned to respect the 12-Hour-Rule.

What is the 12-Hour-Rule you ask?

Example:  Staying out until midnight for a late-night activity such as touring the Colosseum after dark?  Wonderful.  Don’t schedule anything before noon the next day.  Hitting the park at 7 AM when it opens?  We love it!  Make sure the night before you are winding down by 7 PM.  

Teen Travel Mistake #4 - Not Enough Down Time

And for every 7 days of vacation, make sure you add at least a day of free time.  I freely admit, this is the hardest for me to implement!   As the planner-parent, I’ve spent time and money to take my brood on a vacation.  Now you want me to waste time?  

We ‘over-planners’ have to hit the pause button and remember why we planned the vacation to start with.  

F A M I L Y   T I M E

Make sure you remember and honor that goal.

Teen Mistake #4 - Not enough pool time

Down time doesn't have to be complicated and it doesn't have to change the momentum of the vacation. 

It can be as simple as hitting the pool for the afternoon and enjoying takeout pizza for dinner instead of a four-course dinner downtown.

Or scheduling a pasta cooking lesson as you chill in your Tuscan apartment - still enjoying the new culture but in a laid-back way.  

Whatever you decide, scheduling in some down time enhances the enjoyment for the entire family.


According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need between 8-10 hours of sleep each night.  During adolescence, teens experience a biological shift to a later sleep-wake cycle. For teens, melatonin release occurs later in the evening—usually around 11 p.m.—and drops later in the morning.  

That’s fancy talk for what we humbly refer to as the ‘cave effect’.  You know, the place they retreat to every evening?  The dark cave of teen funk?  The hiss of disapproval that emanates when a beam of light dares to breach the cave?

What does it mean for traveling?  

Don’t fight nature.  It’s a battle you won’t win.  The 'cave' travels with your teen!

Teen Travel Mistake #5 - Not enough sleep

What do we do?  In the wise words of Finding Nemo's Crush the Turtle, "Kill the motor, dude." 

Let your travel days start a little later.  

It doesn't mean we do or see less.  We just do it or see it later in the day.  The plus side is we can stay out later than when the kids were toddlers.  Enjoy the bustling night life of Disney Springs or people watch at the Roman Spanish Steps with your teens.  Share an espresso together and watch the stars.  Get to know your new traveling companions.  

THE STRAIGHT SCOOP: Successful travel with teens does require a little extra planning, but with some planning, faith and a good amount of caffeine, you might even capture an elusive smile or two. Priceless.

Do you have any teen travel mistakes we can learn from??  Share below in the Comments section!

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