The Teen Years (15-18)
One of the best ways to get your kid to pull their nose out of their phone? Go somewhere where phones don’t work. Your kid may groan and mope before you leave, but trust us, they’ll have fun once you’re abroad. “Give teens a role in the adventure and travel planning,” says Wheeler, otherwise the percentage of eye-rolls to smiles will be hard to handle. And again, she stresses service, which will help your teen feel good about what they’re doing in a country, versus just thinking about all the SnapChat time they’re missing while their phones aren’t working.
Wheeler is hesitant to suggest allowing even the most confident teen too much freedom while abroad, simply because “there’s a lot of child trafficking out there. Exercise caution and only in pairs,” she says about allowing her two to do anything without adults in tow.
Traveling with a group and not with parents can be an enriching experience for a teen too — though it’s hard to book them a ticket overseas without feeling a few pangs of jealousy. Last year, Wheeler took a group of teenage women to Peru for a trek up Machu Pichu. She says the older teens really seemed to get the most out of it, which may be an argument for waiting one more year if you don’t think your teen is quite ready. And make sure both you and your kid feel comfortable with the group and the group leader before they go — the panicked transcontinental "I want to come home" phone call is fun for no one.
Activities to Introduce: Road and mountain biking (solo), surfing, through hikes and summits, triathlons, lead climbing, wilderness first-aid