Sometimes, if you want to tear teens away from their tech and grab some quality family time, the best plan is to get them out of the house for the whole weekend and as far away as possible from the temptations of that Xbox. Occasionally, I have managed to convince my two to leave all their gadgets behind, but usually I opt for a strategy of booking relatively low-tech accommodation and keeping them as busy as possible once we are there.
Camping is the ultimate option for reducing tech (though I realise not everyone shares my passion for a weekend without a warm shower or a good night’s sleep). The lack of Wi-Fi and electricity means there is simply no arguing about who is watching what or playing which device – it’s a game of cards or read a book or have a conversation!
Getting the teens to help plan the trip is essential (see The Wrong Way to Plan Family Time with a Grumpy Teenager) and opening up the decision-making to them also means that you get to try out new activities that perhaps you’d never have thought of.
Here are a few ideas of some fun family weekends away that might tempt your teens and tweens – all come highly recommended by my two adrenalin-junkies.
Master Mount Snowdon
We chose the easiest route up Snowdon (via the Llanberis path) but got up really early in the morning to avoid the crowds and get the best of the weather. We were, quite literally, the first people on the mountain as the morning broke and that was priceless. The views were phenomenal and we were up and on our way back down again before the crowds had reached the halfway point and the clouds started to descend. Spending a few days in Snowdonia (in the gorgeous Betws-y-coed) meant that we could keep a close eye on the forecast and pick the best day for the ascent. A sense of achievement aside, the most amazing outcome from this particular adventure was knowing that I had inspired my teens with a love of mountains that I think will last a lifetime and which led them to choose the Himalayas for our next holiday.
Sign up for Surf School
Surfing is a real equaliser. Being bigger or stronger is no advantage (at Beginner level at least) so the younger members of the family have just as much chance of mastering it as the older ones. Turns out, I am absolutely rubbish at surfing….. but I still had a really good time trying. The teens of course, were standing up and executing intricate manoeuvres within a couple of days. The lessons are quite intense so we did three days of just morning lessons then chilled out and boogie-boarded in the afternoon, but you could do lessons all day if you’ve got the energy. Our three-day surf school was in Perranporth in Cornwall (Perranporth Surf School) but Bournemouth is a great alternative if Cornwall feels too far for a short break.
Enjoy Lakeside Living
One of my favourite ways to plan a short break is to choose a lake, find somewhere to stay as close to it as possible and then plan every activity around the lake. That might mean water-based activities like kayaking and windsurfing, or venturing into the side rivers with gorge-scrambling or white-water rafting, or just cycling or walking around the lake or having a picnic next to it. My favourite lakes so far are Lake Bala, Llyn Padarn and Lyn Geirionydd (all in North Wales) and the whole of the Lake District – but there are loads of smaller country parks with lakes where you can also camp (my boys love camping in Wellington Country Park in Berkshire and we go back every year).
I hope these ideas have inspired you. If you have suggestions for fun family weekends that have engaged your kids, please share and comment below. Not enough time for a whole weekend away? Try these fun family activities that only take a few hours.
All the ideas featured in this post come from family trips that we booked and paid full price for and we genuinely recommend them. (Having said that, if any holiday companies out there do want to offer me and my teens an all-expenses-paid adventure trip, don’t be shy – get in touch!).
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