50 BEST HOLIDAYS FOR TEENAGERS
BY WILLIAM GRAY | WORLDWIDE | PUBLISHED IN THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
What makes the perfect teenage holiday? It depends on what sort of teenager you’ve got. Some want to laze by a pool, others want to change the world. There are teens who want sport and there are teens who want spas. Some teens are desperate for independence, others are happy to spend time with their parents. It’s never easy planning a trip for this complicated age group – it did get slightly cheaper this week when the threshold for Air Passenger Duty rose to 16 – but there are certain key factors that can make or break a family holiday with teens. Give them space – their own room away from annoying younger siblings and nagging parents. Consider sharing a larger property with friends so they can holiday with a few of their mates. Cater for their interests – find out what they want in the way of watersports, clubs or shops. Don’t underestimate their energy and enthusiasm for a challenging adventure – it can be a great way to boost their self-confidence and for families to reconnect. Finally, look for holidays where teenagers can meet people their own age, whether it’s a resort with a dedicated teens club, an activity holiday or summer camp.
THE ENDURING APPEAL OF WATER Holidays awash with watersports
You never grow too old for splashing around on holiday. Teenagers just need an extra drop of excitement or a new challenge to get them off their sun loungers.
1. Join the surf crowd in Cornwall
St Ives is the perfect spot for teens to refine their boarding skills – or learn from scratch at the local surf school. When they’re not carving waves, there’s plenty to do, from kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding to chilling out at beach cafés. Sleeping eight, Beach View (Aspects Holidays, 01736 754242, aspects-holidays.co.uk, from £1,836) has fabulous views over Porthmeor, the town’s main surf beach. It’s ideal for sharing with friends and has ample space for storing boards and wetsuits.
2. Float your boat in Corsica
Warm Mediterranean waters, a gently shelving beach and steady breeze – learning to sail or windsurf at San Lucianu Beach Resort is as easy as falling off a log. Group lessons are free (along with kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding), or you can enroll on a RYA course to discover your inner Ben Ainslie. Flights, transfers, full board accommodation and an Indy Club for teens are all included with Mark Warner (0333 3057123, markwarner.co.uk, 7nts from £1,085).
3. On a slippery slope in Spain
Kids never grow out of waterparks – the rides just get bigger and faster. At 31m tall, King Khajuna is a giant among free-fall waterslides in Europe, accelerating the average teenager from 0-20 in a couple of seconds. You’ll find it at Costa Caribe Aquatic Park, an hour’s drive from Barcelona. Thomson (thomson.co.uk) offers half board at Hotel PortAventura from £788 with flights from Luton, free entry to PortAventura theme park and discounted entry to the waterpark.
4. Get wet, wet, wet in Greece
New for 2016, Neilson (0333 0143351, neilson.co.uk) has added water skiing and wakeboarding to its line-up of watersports at all-inclusive resorts like Messini Beachclub on the Peloponnese peninsula. Overlooking the bay at Analipsi, the minimalist-style resort also offers superb sailing, windsurfing and kayaking, plus tennis and mountain biking for drying out. Seven nights with flights, transfers, accommodation, activities and most meals costs from £1,264.
5. Take your first breath underwater
Although the PADI Bubblemaker course allows children as young as eight to sample scuba diving, 10-14 year-olds can take the plunge as trainee Junior Open Water Divers – a qualification that’s your ticket to diving all over the world. The five-day course is offered by Powder Byrne (020 82465300, powderbyrne.com) at the luxurious Hotel Hermitage on the Italian island of Elba from £2,544, including half board and Scuba Academy but excluding flights.
BIGGER IS BETTER Properties with party potential
Upsizing on accommodation and sharing the cost with other families saves you money – and also means teenagers get to go on holiday with a few of their mates
6. Room for 12 in Somerset
You get more than just a few extra bedrooms when renting a big house. Fuzzy Orchard near Wellisford has the double bonus of an indoor pool (plus sauna and hot tub) and a games room with table football, pool table and Sky TV. Onsite pampering is available and you can even arrange an evening of Argentinian tango lessons. The six-bedroom, minimalist-style party house is available from The Big Domain (01237 426777, thebigdomain.com, from £5,500).
7. Pushing the boat out on Tresco
Some of us never tire of boat trips, crabbing or rock pooling, but if your teens need convincing that the Scilly Isles are still cool, these New England style beach houses should do the trick. Sleeping up to 10, Flying Boat Cottages (01720 422849, tresco.co.uk, from £5,300) have broadband and satellite TV, plus access to a spa, gym, indoor and outdoor pools, bike hire and tennis courts. A fabulous deli and restaurant are also on your doorstop.
8. French fancy in the Dordogne
Even if the days of Disney Princess worship are over, no teenager could resist the magic (or Facebook potential) of staying in a French chateau. The eight-bedroom, 17th-century Chateau De La Guerniche (Oliver’s Travels, 0800 1337999, oliverstravels.com, £5,150) might seem very grown up with its antique furnishings and French fabrics, but teens will love the billiard table and outdoor pool, not to mention exploring 15 acres of private grounds.
9. Villa with a pool in Corfu
A villa in the Med is usually a safe bet for holidays with teenagers – especially if it has a pool and plenty of space for youngsters to relax and do their own thing. Make it a big villa shared with friends, however, and you can get something really special. Sleeping 12, Villa Irida (Villa Select, 0178 9443972, villaselect.com, from £3,121) has a large pool terrace overlooking the sandy beach of Kalamaki. A short stroll away, Kassiopi has cafés and restaurants, plus a couple of discos.
10. Large group glamping in the Brecon Beacons
The joys of DIY camping often wear thin with teenagers. There’s nowhere to plug their phones and they hate the communal toilets. But make it a luxury safari tent with separate rooms, log burner, hot shower and flushing loo and they might be up for it – especially at Drover’s Rest (0117 2047830, canopyandstars.co.uk, £895) where tents can be group-booked for a big get-together. There’s even a barn with wifi, café, cocktail bar, farm shop and movie lounge.
INDEPENDENCE DAYS Teens-only camps and activity holidays
Parents might only get a big pile of dirty washing from one of these trips, but teenagers will gain confidence, new friends and the sweet taste of independence.
11. Teens in residence
Fast, furious and fun, the five-night summer camps run by the YHA (01629 592530, summercamps.yha.org.uk, from £379) in Shropshire and the Peak District include Go eXtreme (for 12-16 year-olds) where boredom is banished by quad biking, mountain boarding, zip wiring, paintballing and team challenges, and Future Leader (for 17-19 year-olds) where leadership skills are honed through raft building, climbing, canoeing, caving and an overnight camp.
12. Pick a themed camp
Surfing, survival skills, watersports and woodland challenges are some of the themes of the weeklong camps offered by Kingswood (01603 857484, camps.kingswood.co.uk, from £539). There’s also a Teen Adventure on the North Norfolk coast exclusively for 15-17 year-olds. Days are packed with adrenaline-charged activities like abseiling, laser tag and zorbing, while evenings could be spent sumo suit wrestling, foam partying or chilling out around a campfire.
13. Try something different
As well as multi-activity weeks, PGL Adventure Holidays (0333 3212114, pgl.co.uk, from £449) has arguably the most varied line-up of themed trips for 13-17 year-olds. Photography, filmmaking, video game development, cookery and dance are some of the creative options, while motorsports, horse riding, climbing and surfing will appeal to those seeking a new challenge. You can also choose from holidays in the UK, Paris, Mediterranean and Alps.
14. Cast off for the high seas
It’s all hands on deck aboard the tall ship Stavros S Niarchos as you set sail from Ipswich bound for the Netherlands and Belgium. During the one-week voyage in August with Tall Ship Adventures (02392 832055, tallships.org, £629) you’ll join a crew of 69, taking the helm, scrubbing decks and climbing 100ft into the rigging to set sails. Available for 16-25 year-olds, no sailing experience is required and – when you’re not on watch duty – there’s time to relax, spot bow-riding dolphins and explore ashore.
15. Earn your stripes in the Solent
Available for 13-17 year-olds, the Youth Sailing Academy Week from Sunsail (020 38139680, sunsail.co.uk, £609) is a safe and exciting way for teenagers to take to the water without their parents. Combining sailing instruction on 40ft Beneteau yachts with other activities like canoeing, on-shore games and beach barbecues, the all-inclusive course operates from Port Solent and counts towards Competent Crew qualifications or the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.
MAXIMUM SELFIE POTENTIAL Holidays to iconic destinations
Teenagers are always being nagged at to get off their phones, but take them to any of these destinations and you’ll have to accept some screen tapping
16. Space to chill out in London
City breaks tick lots of boxes for teenagers who love the cultural buzz, iconic landmarks and designer shops. Trouble is they don’t want to share a room with their parents, which makes hotel accommodation very pricey. Sharing an apartment, however, often provides better value. With six locations in London, including London Bridge and St Pauls, Marlin (0207 3784840, marlinapartments.com) offers two-bedroom apartments with bathroom, kitchen, lounge and dining area, plus unlimited Wi-Fi, from around £170 per night.
17. Playing it cool in the desert
As well as the world’s tallest building, supersize shopping malls and extravagant beach resorts, Dubai boasts outlandish theme parks and doorstep desert adventures. No wonder teenagers love the place. Rising above one of the city’s outrageous artificial islands, Atlantis The Palm (Kuoni, 0800 804 4727, kuoni.co.uk, £1,839) has its own waterpark with a transparent tunnel that whisks you through a shark lagoon. The resort’s Club Rush for 13-18 year olds features a game zone, internet café and bar.
18. Maximising fun in Florida
Theme parks are the big attraction in Florida – and Universal’s Islands of Adventure is arguably the best for teenagers – but there’s more to the Sunshine State than thrills and spills. Teens will also get a buzz from island-hopping down to Key West, browsing the boutique stores in Naples and spotting ‘gators in the Everglades. Pick and mix with a multi-centre fly-drive (British Airways, 01293 762404, britishairways.com, around £1,170 for flights and car rental).
19. Maximum street cred in Manhattan
New York is the one city that probably tops the wish lists of teenagers more than any other. A suitably hip place to stay for style-conscious teens, Refinery Hotel (Virgin Holidays, 0344 5574321, virginholidays.co.uk, from £1,595 flights and room only) has a fabulous rooftop bar and a great Midtown location close to the Empire State Building, Bryant Park and Museum of Modern Art. Covering an entire city block with 11 floors of the latest fashions, Macy’s is also nearby.
20. The coolest place to pose
Sleeping on ice beds strewn with reindeer furs is pretty cool, but the Icehotel – crafted from scratch each year – is also a work of art. This year’s suites feature spectacular ice carvings of a 3m-high African elephant and a flock of sheep. Discover the World (01737 900594, discover-the-world.co.uk) offers Easter breaks for £1,171, including flights, three nights at the Icehotel and a night at Abisko – renowned for some of the world’s best northern lights viewing.
ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME Splashing out on something amazing
Let’s face it, as the kids get older you never know what might be your last holiday as a family – all the more reason, then, to start planning that extra special trip
21. A California/Colorado combo
Combine riding, fishing and shooting at a Colorado dude ranch with epic mountain biking and white-water rafting in the Rockies, round it off with a dash of LA cool (star-spotting on Hollywood Walk and learning to surf off Santa Monica Pier) and you might just have the ultimate USA adventure for teens. The twin-state trip is available from Scott Dunn (020 37404687, scottdunn.com) for around £6,300 including flights, car hire and accommodation (all-inclusive at Smith Fork Ranch).
22. Getting the thumbs up Down Under
Australia is ripa for teens. And it’s not just the beaches and outdoor lifestyle that will blow their minds. On this 18-day antipodean epic from the Ultimate Travel Company (0203 1315588, theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk, from £2,995), you’ll spend five nights in a trendy suite overlooking Sydney Harbour before heading Outback to explore awesome Uluru. Next it’s Kakadu for a bushcamp safari, then finally Port Douglas for a few days R&R (reef and rainforest) at a luxury beachfront apartment.
23. Highlights of China
An eye-opener for teens and parents alike, ancient and modern China clash dramatically on this 12-day tailor-made tour from A&K (01242 547704, abercrombiekent.co.uk, from £3,568). From scaling the ramparts of the Great Wall to strolling the mega metropolis of Shanghai, you’ll witness both extremes of this extraordinary country. Beijing’s ancient temples and Xian’s Terracotta Army also feature, along with hiking and cycling through the fairytale landscape of Guangxi. Teens will love the stylish accommodation on this trip, which includes the Banyan Tree Yangshuo and Peninsula Shanghai.
24. Amazonian tribe and wildlife encounters
Even the most jaded teenager couldn’t fail to get excited over snorkelling with Galapagos sea lions or honing their blowpipe technique with the Huaorani of Ecuador’s Amazon. An opportunity to learn about the impact of oil exploration on Amazonian communities will also leave a lasting impression on young minds, as will hiking to the rim of an active volcano on Isabela island – all part of a 15-day trip from Journey Latin America (0203 4321567, journeylatinamerica.co.uk, £4,663 excluding international flights).
25. Tanzania beach and bush
This 11-day trip from Families Worldwide (01962 737560, familiesworldwide.co.uk, from £2,249) combines bushcraft, canoeing and beachcombing in offbeat Saadani National Park with walking safaris, boat trips and game drives in the mighty Selous Game Reserve. Other highlights include learning firsthand about elephant conservation, riding the legendary TAZARA train and visiting a local children’s home. The trip ends on the spice isle of Zanzibar where you can easily add on an extra few nights at a beach resort.
BONDING AS A FAMILY Active holidays that bring you closer together
Preoccupied with exams, social life and finding their independence, teens sometimes seem in a world of their own. Try one of these trips for restoring precious family time.
26. Freewheeling in the Balearics
Teens and parents will share a sense of achievement on this weeklong, self-guided cycling trip from Inntravel (01653617009, inntravel.co.uk, from £645 half board, with bike hire but not flights). Your luggage is transported ahead to each night’s family-friendly agroturismo (with swimming pool and home cooking), leaving you to peddle at your own pace, using detailed route notes, along the quiet backroads of southern Mallorca, discovering secret coves and the rolling inland plain of Es Pla.
27. Overlanding through southern Africa
Once the preserve of gappies, overlanding is now popular with adventurous families in search of ground-swallowing, offbeat camping adventures. On a 19-day jaunt between Victoria Falls and Windhoek (Dragoman, 01728 861133, dragoman.com, from £1,890) you’ll roast marshmallows around a campfire in the wilds of Namibia, gather bush food with the Kalahari San, raft the rapids of the Zambezi, canoe through the Okavango and sandboard the dunes of the Skeleton Coast. If that doesn’t bring you together as a family, nothing will.
28. F1 break for petrolhead teens
Can Lewis Hamilton make it two in a row? This year’s Belgian Grand Prix is on 28 August – perfectly timed for an end-of-summer treat for the motorsport-mad teen in your family. Thomas Cook Sport (01733 224834, thomascooksport.com) offers a two-night trip from around £620, travelling to Brussels by Eurostar and staying at the central Thon Hotel. A race day grandstand ticket is also part of the package, along with transfers to the Spa circuit.
29. Family bolthole in the forest
The accommodation at Center Parcs (03448 267723, centerparcs.co.uk) gets more lavish and high spec every year. The latest incarnation of their Exclusive Games Lodges (sleeps eight, from £5,998) has a games room equipped with pool table, Blu-ray TV and gaming console as well as a private spa with sauna, steam room and outdoor hot tub. If you can tear yourself away, each parc has an indoor Subtropical Swimming Paradise, 200-odd activities and a range of restaurants.
30. Climb to the Roof of Africa
Putting to one side the awe factor of following in the footsteps of Comic Relief celebs Gary Barlow, Cheryl Cole and Kimberley Walsh, teenagers will relish the challenge of conquering Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain at 5,895m. Specially designed for families with teens, this 12-day trip (Exodus, 0845 2873753, exodus.co.uk, from £2,789) includes an eight-day, fully supported camping trek on the less-trodden Lemosho Route – hard graft, but rewarding.
POST EXAM DE-STRESS Ultimate chill-out zones
Teenagers deserve a break after their GCSEs or A Levels. And their parents probably need one too, after all the stress and revision cajoling…
31. Drifting along the Turkish Coast
What better way to forget about exam papers and revision notes than by spending a week on a traditional sailing gulet, cruising Turkey’s crinkle-cut Aegean shore, occasionally flopping overboard for a swim or venturing ashore for a picnic on a secret cove. On this eight-day fully crewed family voyage (Peter Sommer Travels, 01600 888220, petersommer.com, £2,295) you also get to visit archaeological gems like Ephesus. No pressure though – you can simply laze on the sundeck if you like.
32. Treehouse escape in the Forest of Dean
There’s a touch of fairytale magic about sleeping in a treehouse, but the new Golden Oak Treehouses from Forest Holidays (03330 110495, forestholidays.co.uk, £3,720) have an added sprinkle of sophistication that teens will love. For starters, each one comes with a hot tub, fluffy robes and posh toiletries – perfect for post-exam recovery. They sleep up to 10 (so you can chill out with friends) and each sumptuously furnished cabin has a really cool ensuite bedroom accessed via a wooden walkway between the trees.
33. Cruising the Eastern Caribbean
A week aboard Allure of the Seas (Royal Caribbean, 0844 4934005, royalcaribbean.co.uk, from £795, excluding flights to Fort Lauderdale) gets you to dreamy destination like the Bahamas, US Virgin Islands and St Kitts, but it’s probably the three days at sea that teens will enjoy most. As well as a teen spa, late-night pool parties and a dedicated club for mingling, playing music or watching films, the ship has a FlowRider surf pool and rock climbing wall, Broadway shows, shopping mall and fantastic range of restaurants.
34. Time out in the Indian Ocean
An all-inclusive resort in Mauritius should soothe the exam-ragged nerves of teenagers – and their parents. At Long Beach (First Choice, 0203 4512720, firstchoice.co.uk, from around £1,520 with flights) you can flop in a tropical lagoon or bask on sunbathing cushions in the impressive pool. Rooms are kitted out with large flat-screen TVs and iPod docks, while the teens club has its own disco and games café. Free watersports include kayaking, waterskiing and windsurfing.
35. Teen pampering in the Pacific
Nestled in a water wonderland of lagoons, cascades, lazy rivers, whirlpools and waterslides, Aulani (Virgin Holidays, 0344 5574321, virginholidays.co.uk, from around £2,130, flights and room only) brings the magic of Disney to the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Ultra family friendly, the resort’s special appeal for teens is its Painted Sky spa where 13 to 17-year-olds can indulge in massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, a DIY mixology bar and exotic smoothies.
FREEDOM AND SPACE Resorts with teen-only areas
You want clubs that keep teenagers captivated – not captive. Here’s a selection of places where they can relax, socialize and do cool stuff with other teens
36. Join our club
Shaded by olive trees on the south coast of Sicily, Club Med Kamarina (0203 8111947, clubmed.co.uk, from £1,050 all-inclusive with flights) features an ‘exclusive, contemporary space’ for teenagers as part of its Club Med Passworld. Teens can hang out together, plan film shows and beach parties, get creative with art and dance or chillax at the Teen Spa. As you’d expect from Club Med, there’s also a plethora of activities, including tennis, sailing and a flying trapeze school.
37. Cruise the Med
One of P&O’s most family-friendly ships, Oceana has a relaxed, contemporary vibe that will appeal to teenagers. They can chill in their own dedicated area on the ship known as H2O, relax by one of the pools or sign up for some sports coaching. Oceana’s Mediterranean voyages this summer include a seven-night fly-cruise to Genoa, Florence, Naples, Dubrovnik and Venice (Cruise Circle, 0800 0231273, cruise-circle.co.uk, £779, inside cabin with flights).
38. Indulge in the Aegean
A paradise for watersports lovers, the Sani Resort presides over a beautiful sandy beach on the Halkidiki Peninsula in Greece. Of its three luxury hotels, Sani Beach Club with its stylish bungalow accommodation is best for families with teens. A club for 12- to 17-year-olds offers watersports, hip-hop classes, beach volleyball, cookery and teen spa sessions. Sovereign (01293 733139, sovereign.com) offers half board from around £2,290, two rooms and flights.
39. Life’s a beach
They really go to town for teenagers at Beaches Turks & Caicos (0800 0223030, beachesresorts.co.uk, from around £1,600 with flights). Located on a stunning 12-mile beach and boasting four holiday villages and a waterpark, the all-inclusive resort doesn’t simply throw in unlimited land and watersports (including golf lessons and scuba diving). Teens also get their own dance club (no tagalong kid brother allowed), XBox One Game Garage, Scratch DJ Academy and TrenchTown Arcade Lounge.
40. Parc life in France
Choose a mobile home that’s big enough for them to have a room of their own and teens will be very happy at a holiday parc. Le Soleil near Argelès-sur-Mer, Roussillon (Eurocamp, 01606 787125, eurocamp.co.uk, from around £1,350 for a three-bedroom mobile home, accommodation only) has loads of onsite activities (from football to scuba diving), a lagoon-style pool and teens-only Base club. There are also some fine beaches nearby, while Barcelona is just a day-trip away.
TOTALLY NOT BORING Action-packed holidays
Left to their own devices on holiday, some teens would happily remain horizontal in a darkened room until noon. Inspire them to get up and go with these slouch-banishing activity trips
41. Mountain biking in the French Alps
Morzine lies at the heart of Portes du Soleil – the world’s largest MTB area, stretching from Mont Blanc to Lac Léman, with 24 lifts servicing 650km of cycling trails. Each summer, the town swarms with mountain bikers – many of them adrenaline-crazed teens – hurtling down the muddy moguls of Le Pléney. Centrally located, Hotel Renardiere (Alpine Elements, 020 33930986, alpineelements.co.uk, from £570 half board, with flights, three days bike hire and lift pass) has an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub.
42. Sporting super resort in southern Spain
If your teens fancy themselves as the next Novak Djokovic or Serena Williams, La Manga Club is the ideal place to hone their tennis skills. A short dash from Murcia, the vast resort also runs junior academies in golf, football, triathlon, rugby and cricket. Sharing three swimming pools and located close to the resort’s supermarkets and restaurants, Los Olivos two-bedroom apartments are available from James Villas (0800 0740122, jamesvillas.co.uk, from around £857, with flights and car hire).
43. Wicked liquid in Wales
If you’re looking for serious adrenaline abuse in the UK, try the ‘action packed’ version of the five-day family adventure from Preseli Venture (01348 837709, preseliventure.co.uk, £559 for adults, £399 for under-16s). Wetsuit-clad and largely amphibious, you’ll get intimate with the glorious Pembrokeshire coast as you tackle coasteering, surfing, sea kayaking and kite boarding. Horse riding and hiking are also available, while accommodation is in a snazzy five-star eco-lodge.
44. Blazing paddles in Croatia
Perfect for water-loving families with children aged 14-plus, the Sea Kayaking Adventure from Completely Croatia (0800 970 9149, completelycroatia.co.uk, from £997, half board with flights) takes you on a paddling odyssey through the Sibenik archipelago north of Split. Led by experienced guides, you’ll spend a week kayaking between four and five hours a day, exploring largely uninhabited islands, visiting sponge fishing villages and swimming in hidden coves.
45. Jungle jollies in Costa Rica
A world leader in ecotourism, Costa Rica is also developing a reputation for pulse-racing adventure. One day you’re flying through the rainforest canopy on a zip wire, the next you’re riding rapids on a feisty jungle river. Particularly suited to teenagers, the 10-day Active Costa Rica trip from Families Worldwide (01962 737560, familiesworldwide.co.uk, from £2,399 with flights) also features horse riding, mountain biking and a close encounter with an active volcano.
THE REAL WORLD Doing something meaningful or educational
There’s a world of opportunities out there for teenagers to engage with cultures, learn something new, experience natural wonders or do something positive for the planet.
46. Experience Planet Earth in the raw
A trip to Iceland gives teenagers plenty to write about for their GCSE or A-Level geography. The subject comes bubbling, hissing and roaring to life on the seven-night Journey to the Centre of the Earth self-drive holiday from Discover the World (01737 900594, discover-the-world.co.uk, from £1,203 with flights and car hire). They’ll be able to wise up on coastal erosion in the East Fjords, glaciation at iceberg-strewn Jokulsarlon, volcanology at the vast lava field of Eldhraun and plate tectonics at Thingvellir.
47. Learn the lingo the fun way
A summer camp for children and teens aged 7-17 from all over the world, Camp Suisse (0845 5191 031, campsuisse.com, £1,000) combines a programme of foreign language tuition (nine hours in total during a weeklong camp) with a multi-activity holiday based in the Swiss Alps resort of Torgon. As well as aiming to become fluent in French or German, teens can polish their mountain biking and climbing skills and join a range of cultural excursions.
48. Join an expedition on the Zambezi
A mixture of adventure and volunteering, this 10-day family trip in Zambia (Exodus, 0845 2873784, exodus.co.uk, from £1,574 with flights) starts with a canoeing safari on the Zambezi, drifting silently past elephants and hippos and camping out under the stars on uninhabited islands. Two days are also spent volunteering in a game management area removing poachers’ snares and visiting a local orphanage school, helping out in the vegetable garden, spending time in the classroom and playing with the children.
49. Study climate change in the Pyrenees
Empowering young people to tackle today’s most pressing environmental concerns, Earthwatch Teen Expeditions (01865 318838, earthwatch.org, £1,525) place 15- to 18-year-olds on scientific projects under skilled supervision. On a nine-day expedition investigating how species are coping with climate change in Andorra, they’ll hike forests and meadows, helping to identify key species, weigh and measure small mammals, study alpine flora, survey snowbed vegetation and plot tree growth.
50. Help with disaster relief in the Himalayas
Following the 2015 Nepal earthquake, this two-week adventure brings together international volunteers aged 15-17 who want to help improve the lives of local communities by renovating schools, building water tanks for drinking water or improving sanitation facilities. Organised by Global Vision International (01727 250250, gvi.co.uk, £1,295 excluding flights) it includes a cultural weekend learning about the traditions and history of Nepal, as well as a four-day trek in the Annapurnas.