Girls parasailing in Gulf Shores, AL

Teens and the Beach: A Travel Blogger’s Personal Experience

My daughter and I just got back from a mother-daughter getaway to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, one of our best trips ever. We escaped the busy schedule at home for four uninterrupted days of girl time.

As I planned the weekend, I thought about her interests and planned most of our trip around that. And, I made sure not to overcrowd the schedule. We’re so busy at home -- we both welcomed the less hectic pace at the beach. No. We needed it!

Flying home at the end of the trip, she looked over to me with a smile and said, “That was one of the best weekends ever. Thanks, Mom.” High praise from a 14-year-old, for sure!

Teen girl enjoying lazy river

Where to stay when traveling with teens

At home, my daughter has her own space. We eat dinner together every night and play board games almost as often, but she likes her “me time.”

On our trip to the beach, we stayed in a beachfront condo. We each had our own bedroom and bathroom - space for me time. When the day was over, she’d retreat to her room to read while I did some blog work before heading off to bed.

Yes, we were vacationing together. But that doesn’t have to mean 24/7 together!

As far as where to stay, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have accommodations to fit just about every budget. These are two great suite hotel options for travel with teens:

●    Microtel Inn & Suites of Gulf Shores has two-bedroom suites and a free hot breakfast daily.
●    Staybridge Suites Hotel offers two-bedroom suites and complimentary breakfast in a central location.

For a more homelike experience, there are lots of beach condos and cottages along Alabama’s beaches. We loved our stay at Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts in Orange Beach. It’s hard to beat the location - with great Gulf views from our balcony and a central location in the heart of it all.

The Wharf in Orange Beach, AL

What to do when visiting the beach with teens

I firmly believe that kids appreciate when we consider their likes in travel planning. It’s even more important when traveling with teens. For our trip, which you can read about here, I tried to strike a balance between fun stuff, relaxed activities and downtime. My daughter’s two favorite activities were racing go-karts at The Track and shopping at The Wharf.

If you have active teens, consider zip lining, golfing, bike riding and kayaking or other water sports. If your teen is more laid back, maybe a round of miniature golf or beach chairs and umbrellas might be a better fit.

Check out this Teen Guide to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach if you need more ideas!

One bonus of traveling with teens is they don’t have to go to bed early like when they were younger! Take advantage of that and enjoy a late dinner, attend a concert, or go crabbing on the beach. You could even head to the hot tub, stare up at the stars and talk.

Or, more precisely, listen!

Another bonus of travel with teens is they know how to find stuff. My daughter picked out some of the restaurants we went to based on restaurant menus and reviews she looked up online. I enjoyed not having to make all the decisions, and she liked being treated as my equal - not my kid.

A couple days into our trip, apparently finding her voice, she asked if we could close the curtains and watch a movie in our room. I said yes!

Sure, we can do that kind of stuff at home, but we didn’t have anything pressing planned that afternoon and our resort had free movie rentals. So, she picked a movie. We made a big bowl of popcorn and enjoyed our time together.

On our flight home, maybe I should have said, “That was one of the best weekends ever. Thanks, kiddo.” Because, really, it was.

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