Tours That Are Surprisingly Great for Teens and Their Families

These guided tours hit the sweet spot when it comes to traveling with teens.

Northern Lights viewing on Up Norways teen-friendly tour
(Photo: Hattvika Lodge)

Spending time together is a defining feature of a family vacation. However, if you’re the parent of a teen, you probably know that hanging out with parents is not always atop their wish list. When my now young adult children were teens, they vacillated between wanting me to read them bedtime stories one minute to minding my own business the next. The push-pull towards independence is a delicate dance; acknowledging this as you plan your vacation can benefit the entire family. 

While there’s no magic wand when it comes to traveling with teens, guided group vacations can hit the sweet spot, and some teen-friendly tours stand out among the choices. With other teens likely to be on the trip, there’s built-in peer companionship. Tour leaders not only handle tedious details, they’re the ones who tell teens what time to be ready each morning and when to have supper, potentially alleviating at least some of the conflict that can arise when parents tell autonomy-craving teens what to do. 

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While teens are as diverse as any age group, action-packed adventures and scenery worthy of posting on social media are often at a premium, something the following trips all provide. Read on for seven hassle-free itineraries that should excite even tough-to-please teens. These teen-friendly tours have all the ingredients for a great family trip.

Intrepid’s Morocco Family Holiday

Intrepid Travel family tour in Morocco (Photo: Intrepid Travel)
Intrepid’s family Morocco tour includes a camel ride in the desert (Photo: Intrepid Travel)

Riding camels over sweeping sand dunes and camping under the Sahara’s starry skies may sound like scenes lifted from an action movie but it’s a reality on the Intrepid tour  Morocco Family Holiday. This small group trip dives into the sights and sounds of this beautiful North African country. There’s variety woven into each day, from exploring cities like Marrakech, Fes, and Casablanca to soaking in stunning natural features, from the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert. 

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It’s a sensory immersion as you sip fresh mint tea, eat lunch in a mudbrick Kasbah, and bargain at a bazaar. Participant Eli Gruen, age 17, said “This trip was such a cool way to explore such a fascinating part of the world. From the medinas to the Roman ruins, I experienced so many great moments and had lots of laughs with the others in our group. One highlight for me was playing soccer in the streets of Meknes at dusk with our tour guide’s family!”

  • Average group size: Maximum of 16 participants
  • Starting price: $1,134
  • Length: 10 days, 9 nights
  • What’s included: nightly accommodations, daily breakfast, four dinners, two lunches, all scheduled activities, airport transfers, transportation within Morocco
  • What’s not included: Airfare to Morocco, meals not on the itinerary, add on activities, tips for your guide

Costa Rica Family Experience with G Adventures

Kids and teens on the Costa Rica Cloud Forest adventure tour with G Adventures
Teens excited about wildlife will find plenty of excitement on G Adventures Costa Rica Family Experience tour (Photo: G Adventures)

Curated in conjunction with National Geographic, Costa Rica Family Experience with G Adventures immerses nature-lovers in this country’s lush flora and fauna for an educational experience that can’t be found in a classroom.

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Though children as young as six may participate in this kid friendly guided trip, the many active-as-you-want-to-make-them options makes it a particularly good tour for teens.  Experienced guides, known as CEOs, which stands for chief experience officers, are with you throughout. CEO Grace Guerrero says “This trip is a great balance between adventure, nature, and cultural connections. Teens will have a chance to experience horseback riding through the forest and end up at a spectacular waterfall for a swim, plus zipline across canyons. They will also have the opportunity to volunteer at Monteverde Institute and be part of the reforestation program.”

Get hands-on as you learn to make tortillas for a meal at the home of a local family. And as part of this travel program, you’ll also get plenty of chances to view wildlife, from iguanas to monkeys. There’s lots of free time built in to this itinerary, so teens who crave a moment to kick-back, perhaps at a gorgeous beach, will be satisfied.

  • Average group size: 18-20, with a max of 22
  • Starting price: $2,699 
  • Length: 9 days, 8 nights
  • What’s included: 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners, nightly accommodations, transportation between destinations, many activities
  • What’s not included: Airfare to Costa Rica, any meals not listed on the itinerary, a few optional activities

Canadian Rockies with Adventures by Disney

teenager on Adventures. by Disney tour experiencing Columbia ice field and the cold temperatures by taking off his shirt
My son experiencing the Canadian Rockies on an Adventures by Disney tour(Photo: Allison Tibaldi)

If you think Adventures by Disney guided tours are all about costumed characters and amusement rides, you’d be mistaken. The selling point is being in the skilled hands of Disney, a company that understands how to have vacation fun like no other. If you’re traveling with an energetic teen, I can speak from personal experience that the Canadian Rockies trip won’t disappoint. 

My son Alec and I took this trip when he was 17. Starting in Calgary, we biked, hiked, and paddled our way across majestic mountain landscapes. Standout experiences included stepping over the edge of a glass-bottom platform on the Glacier Skywalk Excursion, visiting the largest body of ice in North America at the Columbia Icefield, canoeing on the emerald-colored waters of Lake Louise, and a float trip down the Bow River. 

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Alec says “I loved everything about this trip, including snow in June! We stayed at historic hotels, like the Fairmont Banff Springs, where the breakfast buffet even had Asian options.” 

  • Average group size: 30-40 guests
  • Starting price: $6,349 per adult, $6,009 per child age 11 and under
  • Length: 7 days, 6 nights
  • What’s included: 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners, upscale nightly accommodations, transportation during the trip, arrival and departure transfers, activities
  • What’s not included: Airfare, alcoholic beverages, gratuities for your guides

Teenagers in Paris: The City of Lights with Road Scholar

Grandparent and grandchild on a boat tour of the Seine on Road Scholar's grandparent-grandchild tour of Paris
Grandparents and teenage grandkids can ditch the parents and have a Parisian adventure with Road Scholar (Photo: Road Scholar)

Skip-gen travel—grandparents traveling alone with their grandchildren—is trending. And educational non-profit Road Scholar helped pioneer this style of family travel years ago when they created Grandparent-Grandkid group adventures.

Teenagers in Paris: The City of Lights with Your Grandchild is crafted for teens age 14-17. You’ll travel with a small group of grandparents and their teenage grandchildren, hitting bucket-list Parisian destinations such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Board a motor-coach one morning for the two-hour ride to visit Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s house and garden in Giverny. There are experiential components perfect for teen travel: I’m thinking of examples like a hands-on chocolate making class and a French language lesson with artists in Montmartre. 

Past participant Chloe Knittel, age 17, says “I had such a great time. My group and I had such a strong bond by the end of the trip. My leaders were amazing. This trip was very educational and informative, while also being very fun!”

  • Average group size: 13-24 participants.
  • Starting price: $3999 per adult and $3099 per child
  • Length: 9 days, 8 nights
  • What’s included: Accommodations, 17 meals, gratuities, scheduled activities 
  • What’s not included: Additional meals, trip cancellation insurance, flights

Trafalgar’s National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas

traditional indigenous clothing on display during Trafalgar’s National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas
Trafalgar’s National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas tour includes a stop at the Lakota Youth Development program (Photo: Trafalgar)

For a family tour with teens who want to learn more about North America’s Indigenous Peoples, the Trafalgar itinerary National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas is a standout choice. 

You’ll visit Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and Standing Rock reservations and meet members of these Tribal Nations, who share their personal stories. This unfiltered tour doesn’t sugarcoat the history or reality of contemporary life on the reservation, where poverty, unemployment, and addiction are widespread. Teens will have a window into the traditions of the Tribal Nations through DIY experiences such as learning to make tea from wild herbs.

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For the teens who were on my tour last summer, a morning spent with local teens who frequent the Lakota Youth Development program was a highlight. They performed an original play that amplified the intergenerational trauma they face and spoke frankly about their struggles, hopes, and dreams. 

Stops at national parks including Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Theodore Roosevelt, make for a well-rounded itinerary. 

  • Average group size: 45
  • Starting price: $3,072 with a 10% discount for guests under 18.
  • Length: 9 days, 8 nights
  • What’s included: Daily breakfast and many additional meals, including several on reservations, activities, overnight accommodations, motor-coach transportation
  • What’s not included: Flights, gratuities for your guide and driver

Tauck’s Red Rocks & Painted Canyons Tour

Family posing in front of red rocks of the Southwest on Tauck's Red Rocks and Painted Canyon
Tauck’s Red Rocks & Painted Canyons tour offer teens and their families a whirlwind way to see national parks of the West and Southwest (Photo: Tauck)

America’s national parks are a treasure chest. Share the wonders of nature’s handiwork in the western United States with your teens on Tauck Tours‘ spring and summer Red Rocks & Painted Canyons tour

Starting in Phoenix, you’ll journey to the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks, where you’ll sample activities from horseback riding to a float trip on the Colorado River. A flightseeing adventure over Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is fun for adventurous teens. The trip ends in Las Vegas, where bright lights and bling will be abundant. 

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Genifer Katz took the trip with her family and says “Riding mules in Bryce Canyon was so much fun! I loved watching my oldest son laughing up the mountain with his Grandma. Sunrise at the Grand Canyon, steps from our hotel was just an unforgettable experience! We saw two big horn sheep and watched them playing right in front of us as the sun came up—it was truly incredible.”

  • Average guided tour group size: 35
  • Starting price: $4,990
  • Length: 8 days, 7 nights
  • What’s included: Gratuities, sightseeing and admissions, most meals, airport and luggage transfer, taxes
  • What’s not included: Airfare, alcoholic beverages

Norway’s Arctic Circle Region: Myths and Marvels in Helgeland Journey with Up Norway

Photo of family on an Up Norway independent tour
Independent families get the structure of a tour without the actual tour on Up (Photo: Fredrik Bye/Up Norway)

Not every teen wants to travel with a group of strangers. If your family group prefers to vacation without a group but with logistical assistance, consider an independent tour with plenty of teen-appeal. Your family will have the assurance of round-the-clock, on-the-ground assistance combined with the flexibility and freedom that are hard to get with group travel.

Inspired by Norwegian folklore, the Norway’s Arctic Circle Region: Myths and Marvels in Helgeland Journey  will have you cruising along pristine fjords and learning about the indigenous Sami People. Over-scheduled teens will get a taste of life in rural Norway, where slow living takes precedence. 

Torunn Tronsvang, founder of tour operator Up Norway, says “Based on the Helgeland Myth, this journey offers family adventures like fishing, hiking, snorkeling, arctic surfing, kayaking, and climbing. Teens gain insight into sustainable lifestyles, exemplified by experiences like cruising on an electric boat and enjoying farm-to-table meals.”

  • Average group size: This trip is independent
  • Starting price: $5,021 
  • Length: 12 days, 11 nights
  • What’s included: Many meals, accommodations, transportation within Norway, all planned activities
  • What’s not included: Airfare to Norway

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Allison Tibaldi is a travel and food writer based in New York City. She has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Australia, Toronto and Los Angeles. She writes for numerous publications including CNN, Business Insider, Travel Channel, HGTV, am New York, Emirates Open Skies Magazine, USA TODAY 10 Best, USA Today Go Escape, Shermans Travel, Family Traveller, Travel Squire, FamilyVacationist, and Travel Weekly. She is also a contributing editor at Family Travel Forum. She focuses on family, culinary and eco-friendly travel. A former early childhood educator, she studied child development in graduate school and believes that travel is the best education.