Travelling with teens is one of the most enjoyable, amusing, rewarding and challenging experiences that any parent will undertake. I know. I’m currently travelling the world for a year with my husband and our 16 and 13-year-old teenagers. But I couldn’t do it without wine, and a few teenage essentials.
Over the past three months, I have said thanks more than a hundred times for investing in the sanity-saving (ours and theirs) products that we bought for our teenagers before we set off from New Zealand on our travels.
Traveling With Teenagers.10 Must Have Items You Will Need To Keep Everyone Sane.
As you know, teenagers love anything gadgety. But they are also kept entertained for hours on end by a simple puzzle toy. That’s why I’ve included both of those things in the post. Some of the things may be out of your budget, but I doubt it. Have a look and see what you think. We have been saving for a long time to be able to travel with our teenagers so I scrutinized and compared the cost of everything before I let go of my hard earned money.
Whether you are planning your next summer holiday together as a family, sending your teen off on their independent travels or taking a huge leap and travelling long term as a family, I have compiled a list that will save yours and your teenagers sanity. And everything here is what we travel with personally. I promise.
Take a look at my recommendations for essential items when travelling with teens.
Blue Tooth Portable Speaker.
Teenagers and music. My teenage boy couldn’t live without his JBL Flip 3 Portable speaker. You can connect up to three smartphones or tablets to it meaning that his sister can also share the music (and the love if he’s feeling kind). It has a built-in rechargeable battery which lasts for up to ten hours – essential for when you are travelling.
The sound is very impressive too; it has a beautiful rich tone – so not offensive to other people (depending on the music they’re playing I suppose) My teenage son uses it on ferries (it’s also splashproof which is ideal) on the beach and in his room at night. It’s small enough for a travelling teenager to pop into their flight bag. Plus of course, they look cool – which let’s not forget is essential.
I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before we started travelling. The Discraft Ultra Star Sport Disk is something we bought in India because every teenager (and fit young adult it seems) is playing frisbee on the beach! This one is not something I can say I share. I don’t do frisbee. Believe me. Me jumping for a frisbee is something my teenagers would howl with laughter at. So, instead, I sit on the beach and write useful lists like this for you instead.
Unbeknown to me, it’s a very cool sport amongst travellers. And it’s cheap and lightweight, fitting easily between the clothes in the rucksack. Even better! My teenagers had never really shown an interest in sport until they got the frisbee. So this is perfect. It gets them off their devices and gives me half an hour of uninterupted bliss knowing that they’re burning off lots of teenage energy!
We did try buying one for a couple of dollars but the cheap ones are too light and a waste of time – unless you just want to play with a little child. For the travelling teenager to look cool, there is no other frisbee than this one.
I’ve talked about my love of the Kindle Paperwhite many times before on this blog. l adore it and so do my kids. It is one item on this list that I couldn’t do without. I have been homeschooling both of my teenagers for the past nine seven years. Before we started travelling I was initially concerned about how we were going to continue reading without carting a ton of heavy books around the world. The kindle paperwhite weighs just 205 grams. Perfect for the travelling teen. Let’s face it, they don’t like to carry too many heavy things…
The Paperwhite has got a built-in backlight which is why it is a top choice for those travelling with teenagers. Long after the lights go out my two kids will be lying awake reading. But please. Learn from our mistake! Don’t buy the Kindle without also buying the:
Initially, we tried to save money by not buying a case for our Kindle. Big mistake. When we were in America at the beginning of our travels my teenage son scratched the screen of his new Kindle with the metal seat belt. Amazon was absolutely amazing and replaced the kindle free of charge (another reason I’d always buy from them). Luckily we were in a country where the replacement arrived promptly. I’m glad it didn’t happen in India for example. Teenagers have a habit of bein heavy-handed. To avoid the same thing happening to your Kindle buy them the case.
Photography Gear For The Travelling Teenagers
Teenagers and phones. They never travel far without them. I’m sure my two have had them surgically implanted into their palms. And it seems the more gadgets they can attach to their phones the better. But here’s a little add-on that you will be happy you purchased.
If your teenager is showing an interest in photography – as my 13-year-old teenage daughter is – the amir Camera Lens Kit is a clip on 2 in 1 lens that clips over the lens of an iPhone (8, 7, 6, 6s, 5) Samsung or smartphone, and is perfect for the travelling teen. No more asking Dad if she can use his very expensive – and therefore highly treasured iPhone 7+, because it takes better photos. This little gizmo is the answer to great teenage photography.
It turns taking everyday photos into art by using a 0.4x super wide angle lens that expands the field of view. Meaning that the teenager can get more of their travelling friends into the picture! The 10X Macro lens enables you to shoot photos at a distance of 1.18 – 1.57inch from your object, allowing your teenager to be able to take amazing close-ups in crisp detail. They are tiny and a very cheap alternative to a large expensive camera for when your teenager is travelling.
Who would have thought that this 1980s phenomenon would be entertaining our teenagers forty years later! If you are travelling with teenagers I insist that you take this Rubix cube with you. I have lost count of the number of hours my son and daughter have spent fiddling with this addictive puzzle, leaving us to plan the next part of our trip.
Whenever there is a train delay or an overnight bus to take (hence no wifi) they always reach for it. If your teenagers are anything like mine they will want to be fidgeting (constantly, it seems) with something. Anything. My 16-year-old insists that this is the one to use. Apparently, the cube turns quicker and more precisely than any other. Believe me, he has tried the lot.
Portable Battery Charger
Never hear the words “my phones flat!’ again. If you are like us and are travelling with teens, then no doubt you will be taking a lot of gadgets with you.
With four phones and an iPad to charge every day, there wasn’t any way we could travel with teenagers without a portable battery charger. We bought the Anker 20100mAh and it’s been perfect for us.
This super powerful little gadget that weighs no more than a can of soup can charge the iPhone 7 almost seven times, the Galaxy S6 five times, or the iPad mini 4 twice. It recharges itself within 10 hours with a 10amp charger. If your teenagers are out and about for the day they can easily pop this into their packs. If they are off on their own for a long day you have the peace of mind that their phones won’t go flat.
More importantly, they won’t ever have the excuse of ‘my phone was dead’ when you ask why they didn’t call you to tell you they got to the coach station on time.
If you prefer to go down the eco route you could go for a solar portable battery pack. We have got both and use them. (Each of my teenagers carries one).
Portable Solar Battery Charger
This solar charger Dizaul 500 is rainproof, shockproof and dustproof. In other words, teenage travel proof! We love the little hook feature it has. Teenagers have a habit of holding too much stuff and usually end up dropping everything. Just saying.The hook lets them put it onto their backpacks for long flights or onto the cup holder on the train.
On the downside, it doesn’t charge as quickly as the Anker so just something to be aware of. I have an impatient teen versus a ‘save the planet’ teen. If you do too, maybe do what we did and get both. Then everyone is happy.
You won’t have been expecting this one but I cannot recommend this miracle powder enough.
If you are travelling with teens or maybe waving your teenager off to travel on their own, make room in their pack for this coconut activated charcoal powder. We swear by it. It’s benefits are endless. They include teeth whitening, rejuvenating your skin, detoxifying the body and helping with digestion. The charcoal powder also works wonders on bug bites and wounds and apparently accidental poisoning. (I’m glad to say we haven’t needed it for that yet.) It cleans and whitens teeth naturally and beautifully.
My teenage daughter’s hair has become very dry with all the sea sat and sun while she has been travelling. She adds a spoonful of the powder to her shampoo and the result is amazing. Try it. The whole family will be arguing over it I can guarantee. Don’t let this put you off though. Just say you’re the oldest so you count more. That should do it.
One tub lasts for ages, is natural and is reasonable in price considering one powder has multiple uses.
Waterproof case for Phone
These lightweight, durable waterproof cases are incredible value. I bought one each for my teenagers when we set off on our travels and it’s one of those things that I find myself congratulating myself on!
The case creates a secure seal around your teenagers’ device and is waterproof, dirtproof and dustproof. The best thing is (for the teenager of course) is that the touch screen function still works perfectly while in the bag. We bought the FRiEQ waterproof case and never stop using it. It’s one of those things that your travelling teen will never stop using when they are near water. In fact, I’m sure my 16-year-old teenage boy takes it in the shower with him.
I hope you enjoyed browsing this post on essential gear for travelling with teens, and thanks so much for using the links. If you do, we make a small commission but they cost you nothing. Thanks.
And remember, everything you see on this page are only the things that my family uses personally. For the sake of all our sanity.
If you are planning to travel with teenagers you are going to have a ball! They are the best company ever. Just don’t forget to pack some patience and a sense of humour. And if at all possible, lots of wine.
Having only been in the country for 24 hours I have discovered a few things about Sri Lanka that I really wasn’t expecting. Being on a year-long backpacking trip around the world with two teenagers requires you to do some planning and research. Not something I find easy. In fact, if I’m honest I find it tedious so tend to force our family to run by the seat of our pants. But this attitude can backfire on you sometimes and throw you a bit of a curveball. Just to keep things interesting.
There are lots of things I didn’t expect from Sri Lanka. Things that I couldn’t have ever found in a guidebook and that nobody told me about. Which is fantastic. I love surprises. Especially nice ones.
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Things That Took me by Surprise in Sri Lanka. Starting With Colombo Airport.
We arrived at Colombo airport at 2 am. Not that you would ever have known it. I have seen Heathrow airport at midday quieter than Colombo was in the early hours of the morning, it was a hive of activity. The air is heavy and damp and laden with the smells of curry leaves and cinnamon mingled with the smoke from burning leaves rising from the ever-present small fires, each scent competing for airspace.
Surprise #1: Even in the wee hours of the morning Colombo airport operates at full speed. Don’t assume that because you are arriving in the middle of the night you will be left waiting for things to open.
The first thing we did was to buy a sim card and some data. This was super cheap and easy to do. When you come out into the arrivals at Colombo, there are kiosks selling mobile phone top-up data sim cards etc. Go to the one on the far left. It has the best deals. I think it was about $12 for 5Gigs of daytime data and 5Gigs of nighttime data with 120 minutes of calls. I’m glad we did, it proved extremely useful and paid for itself within the first half an hour.
I had spent the entire flight over from NYC worrying about the fact that we didn’t have a Sri Lankan rupee to our name, just New Zealand and American dollars. Again, I imagined that we would be stranded. (I like to look on the bright side). As it turned out (as was the norm) I was worrying about nothing. The airport was littered with money exchange booths and they were all open – even in the middle of the night. The exchange kiosks will take any form of currency and give you Rupees in exchange. All that worrying that I put myself through for nothing.
Surprise #2: Don’t panic that you haven’t got any Sri Lankan Rupees. As long as you have some foreign currency or a visa card you’ll be able to get cash on arrival in Colombo.
So, with a pocket full of cash and a hot sticky data package clinging to the phone we stepped out of the airport doors and into the moisture-laden air. I was both wary and excited. But mostly wary. This trip is the first time to Asia and with two teenagers, one who is 13, blonde and beautiful and attracts the attention of any man in a sarong. The other who is 16 and doesn’t look where he is going when he crosses the road as he’s too busy waving his phone in the air looking for a mobile signal.
The hotel that we had booked through Wotif was a 20km taxi ride away.
Surprise #3: Uber is available in Colombo but just make sure that if you want to go somewhere in advance, book it. We found that it was quite sporadic. Using the Uber app is a good way to give you an idea of what the price should be.
We tried to book an Uber, but there was a 30-minute wait. Probably because it was 3am. So, we decided to take a couple of tuk-tuks instead. With four of us – plus our rucksacks, we needed two.
Surprise #4: Without bags, you can squeeze four people into one tuk-tuk but once you take rucksacks with you – allow for two.
Arrived! After a long 18 hour flight with Kuwait Airlines, we arrived in Sri Lanka. Don’t be fooled by the big smiles. I was terrified that we would be stranded at 3am.
Leaving Colombo Airport and Stepping Out into Sri Lanka
I won’t lie. I was slightly scared. I imagined that we would step out of the airport and be immediately bombarded and hustled by tuk-tuk drivers and hotel touts all trying to scam me and rob me of my worldly belongings. Which, at that moment, consisted of my miniature coco mademoiselle perfume (that I think has gone off anyway,) my iPhone and the knickers that I got for Christmas. The ones I’m saving for best.
We already had an idea of a fair price because we had seen what Uber would have charged us. Remember though, although a three-wheeler is going to be a bit more pricey it’s much more fun. For a 20km ride, the cost was 1000 Sri Lankan rupees which is about $7.
Sitting in the back of the tuk-tuk, oohing and ahhing at the stray dogs and the tooting of the many bikes we were naive and oblivious to the what lay ahead of us.
Surprise #5: When booking your accommodation in Sri Lanka look for guest houses or villas. Avoid anything with ‘resort’ in the title unless you are paying top prices at an all-inclusive, in which case you have probably used a travel agent. This was a handy tip from a local. A bit late now mate…
When we turned up at the hotel, it was a boarded-up wreck of a place located down a dodgy looking alleyway.The only resident appeared to be a scowling , manky looking cat with no tail and massive balls dangling to the floor. Not good. We had to think quickly and book a room. Thank god for the sim card. Thank god that there was wifi. Thank god for booking.com.
The kids were starting to panic, and there was lots of muttering from the two tuk-tuk drivers. They were probably discussing the audacity of a hotel who advertises on the internet, and then takes the money and proceeds to close up shop leaving the mother in law to board the place up.
Either that or they were discussing whether or not to have fish or chicken curry for their breakfast.
Within five minutes we had booked a hotel nearby. I used Agoda, they are super user-friendly. They are our go-to site for when we travel in Asia. At 4 am in the morning I could have kissed their little computer feet when they found me this fabulous guest house at such late notice. There I was, sat in the back of a tuk-tuk in the middle of Colombo, sweating, trying to keep calm and refrain from screaming at the kids to stop asking me “So where are we going to sleep?”.
We booked this fabulous guest house and were immediately sent a confirmation email with the telephone number of the owner. If you need somewhere to stay when you first arrive in Colombo, Sri Lanka, this place is just the ticket. Clean, friendly and cheap. Take a look at it here.
Surprise #6: Always ring ahead to the guest house or hotel where you are staying in Sri Lanka. This seems to be the norm. That way you know they are expecting you and you won’t get any surprises once you turn up. The owners will more often than not come and collect you from wherever you are.
Ok. So, you get the picture of our first hour in Sri Lanka. Hot, sweaty, jet-lagged and slightly, ever so slightly, manic.
From there on in though I have been continuously surprised with the beautiful country that calls itself Sri Lanka. But rather than write an essay on every single thing that has delighted me, this is the list that I made.
You know how I love lists.
So, just to recap. We have just booked the last- minute guest house and are on our way there in two tuk-tuks.
And the kids are asking why couldn’t we have just stayed in America.
The Best Things That Surprised me Within the First 24 Hours of Being in Sri Lanka.
- I didn’t expect the owner of the guest house to (a) answer his phone at four o’clock in the morning and (b) say he would meet us at his gates in twenty minutes. He didn’t even sound tired. Do people not sleep in Sri Lanka?
- Or that two hours later I would hear the tinkling of the Beethovens tune Fur Elise floating through the air into my jet-lagged ears. Being broadcast from the back of the local bakery tuk-tuk who drives up and down the streets selling freshly baked goods. A soothing, familiar sound that is present from 6 am every morning throughout the country.
- I didn’t expect the wife of the guest house to make us a huge, delicious Sri Lankan breakfast for just $3 per person the next morning.
- That my two teenagers would eat dahl curry and rice for breakfast without once asking “is there anything else?’ Go figure.
- That the owner of the guest house would take my husband, Brian, on the back of his motorbike down to the local shops to buy a bottle of costly ($10)bottle of imported French wine to drink with our evening meal. Because after the ordeal of the night before we needed it.
- Had I known that wine is non-existent in the local restaurants and supermarkets throughout Sri Lanka, I would have savoured that bottle of wine a little more. Little did I know that this was to be the last drop of grape juice to pass my lips for the next three weeks.
- But then again, I didn’t expect to acquire a taste for beer so quickly.(I’m not fussy) The local brew is Lion beer, and it’s very smooth and tasty. After a long hot day on the beach, a large cold beer is just the ticket.
- I had visions of the local tuk-tuk drivers running after me and shouting for me to take a fare.I didn’t expect them just to drive away when I said no thank you to their enquiry of the ever-present question ‘where you going?” They are all very lovely and not at all hassely. After watching you lug your heavy packs along the dusty road to the train station, they are merely asking if you want to get into a nice cool tuk-tuk rather than sweat your knockers off for the sake of saving $1.50. Take the tuk-tuk.
- I didn’t expect it to be so easy to book the train journey from Colombo to Mirissa. Just queue up at window 7 and say four tickets to Mtara, please. Job done. Or…
- That the men on the station were not in fact conspiring to rob and ravish my daughter and me. They were, in fact, more interested in asking us why New Zealand is 2nd in cricket, whether or not my son plays for the All Blacks and why I think New Zealand is a “best place to live.’ Damn it. Maybe next time.
- I didn’t expect that even though we had booked and paid for 2nd class tickets when we got onto the train, there wasn’t a seat to be had anywhere. Just a heads up. Don’t go thinking that just because you paid for a 3rd class ticket, you have to stay in the said carriage. Nobody checks. You will probably be on the floor anyway. It’s a fantastic opportunity to people watch and meet local people who will be genuinely interested in finding out “where you from?’
- I didn’t expect the man on the train from Colombo to Matara to give up his doorway to us saying that “this is the best side, you can see the sea” What a gentleman.
- Or that you can buy a cold can of Coke, water or Fanta from the vendor who walks up and down the train. Perfect for the open doorway experience.
- I didn’t expect the air to be so warm and fragrant or for the swaying palm trees to be heavy with fruits.
- And lastly, I didn’t expect things to be so incredibly easy. The buses, the trains, the tuk-tuks, the accommodation. Everything.Really easy.
Curry, fruit, chilli and lemons and of course roti. All beautifully fresh and tasty. It seems that it is common practice for guest house owners to cook you breakfast. And it is so cheap! $3 a person. Yes, please!
At the train station in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Not once were we hassled, it was all very easy. Buying a ticket to wherever you want to go to is super easy. Go to window 7 if you are heading to Mirissa!
“Did you hear about that daft bat who booked a hotel through whatif and it wasn’t there?”
Having a chin wag at Colombo train station.
Living out a long-awaited dream. To sit in an open doorway of a train in Sri Lanka. It was every bit as good as I imagined!
I have so much more to tell you about our time in Sri Lanka.
From the train journey, we went on to spend the night couch surfing with a local family. It was probably the best and the worst overnight experience for me – and certainly for my two teenagers – that we have ever encountered. I will write about that in my next post.
I will also tell you how we are living like kings for less than $25 per person per day and how you can too. How we are staying in a beautiful guest house backing onto jungle, with a couple, who insist on feeding us every thirty minutes. Sonny has met his perfect woman.
But for now, this is just a glimpse into our first 24 hours in Sri Lanka and the surprises that I didn’t expect.
I’m afraid I can’t stay and chat any longer. I have to head off down to the Indian Ocean for a swim. Before ordering a pot of green tea and sitting under palm trees watching Sonny and Tess body surf the waves.
As a side note, I bought these travel towels with us and it was the best thing ever. Another thing they don’t tell you about Sri Lanka is that many of the guest houses don’t provide towels. If you are heading this way be sure to pack a couple of these. They’ve been a lifesaver, both for the cold showers and the beach.
They also do a really good deal if you buy a travel hammock too. I would have loved that. Here is Sri Lanka there are plenty of hidden spots where you can hang them.
I wish someone had told me that in fact, Sri Lanka was going to fascinate me with all these things that I least expected. That in fact, I needn’t have bothered worrying endlessly. You learn these things though, don’t you?
If you are anything like me and are about to take a trip to Sri Lanka for the first time, you may be slightly worried. Please don’t be. Just relax and enjoy being a Sri Lanka virgin.
There are three things you will hear said a lot in Sri Lanka.
Where you going?
What your name?
But my favourite? ‘This. This is not a problem’…. Oh, Sri Lanka.
Charleston is charming. It is crammed with cobblestone alleyways, steeped in history and the pastel-painted houses with their window boxes and shutters have been restored beautifully. But what about when the sun goes down? Are there any unique things to do in Charleston SC at night?
Firstly, you will need somewhere to get a good meal that isn’t going to cost you a fortune.
Charleston is beautiful, but it can also be pricey.
Beautiful Rainbow Row is as just as pretty as it looks. But what about Charleston at night? What is there to do?
Secondly, you will be looking for entertainment that the whole family can enjoy. Something that you will appreciate as well as the kids. it’s your evening too. If you are a regular reader you will know how I feel strongly about remembering to look to your own needs and wants – you can read about that here -not always easy to do, especially when you have teenagers.
The following suggestions on things to do in Charleston at night, however, will make everyone in the family happy and suit the most frugal of traveller.
We were in Charleston SC this week and we needed things to do at night.
Travelling with teenagers is easy. Sort of. That is until the clock strikes 7 pm and they suddenly wake like vampires with a bang.
The usual activities such as bowling or movies were not an option. Let’s face it, those things can be done in any city. If you are in Charleston, you will want to make the most of the more unusual things to do at night.
We are in the first month of our backpacking trip around the world with our two teenagers. We left New Zealand in November, went to Ft Lauderdale and are making our way up to New York before flying to Asia. Brian and I decided that if we didn’t do it now, then we never would. The money is tight so this wonderful experience is being attempted on a strict budget – hence the reason I am looking for things to do in Charleston at night on a budget. If you are interested in how everything is playing out take a look here.
We were couch surfing (more on that in another post) and the property was a good 20 minutes drive away.
Things to do in Charleston SC at Night.
If you have a car as we did, drive 15 minutes from downtown and go to Dellz Uptown.
It’s a vegan restaurant but I didn’t tell my teenagers this otherwise they wouldn’t have wanted to go. There is plenty of free on-street parking. It is open until 8 pm.
As well as vegan and vegetarian the menu also includes meat options, I tried both (over the two nights, I’m not that greedy) A chicken wrap with black beans, melted cheese, brown rice, Mexican sauce and sour cream, and then a vegan pizza with tomato, coriander, chilli and avocado.both were absolutely delicious. We ate there two nights it was that good. They will let you bring your own wine but if you don’t carry a bottle in the car like we do, you can buy a glass for $5. A meal for 4 costs us $46 when we brought our own wine and $62 when we drank theirs. It has a very nice vibe with easy going, kind staff. Get the window seat and watch the world go by on the busy street. The teenagers loved it and all the while I don’t think they ever guessed we were in a vegan restaurant.
My idea of heaven… Avocado, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, rocket. Delz Uptown is a fabulous budget choice restaurant when in Charleston at night.
Another restaurant option. If you are in town and can’t be bothered to drive you are not going to regret going to the Brown Dog Deli for dinner. The deli has two branches in Charleston, we went to the Calhoun street branch. It is open until 10 pm.
This long narrow eatery has high ceilings, fabulous music, a relaxed atmosphere and superb food. There is something here to please everyone. My 13-year-old daughter is pretty fussy and was delighted to find she could build her own hot dog. My 16 year old would eat a horse and still be hungry but the portions were big enough – even for him.
Brian and I shared a pulled pork meal and it was plenty. We had a couple of beers instead of wine (it was cheaper) We paid $56 for the four of us. Either of these places would be a fabulous Charleston nighttime option. I looked around and there were groups of friends and also couples eating there. We were the only family in there but that’s ok. You can just do what we did. Admire the hundreds of album covers that are pasted all over the walls and then bore the kids senseless about how things were better in the days when you had to save up and buy yourself a record.
What is there to do in Charleston SC at night?
TourCharleston. The Best Guided Walking Tours in Charleston.
If you find yourself in Charleston SC and looking for things to do at night, make sure you check out TourCharleston.com. In our opinion, this walking tour company offers the best option for things to do in Charleston at night. Especially with older children.
Black History and Ghost of Charleston Tours.
We were very kindly offered to walk as guests on both of these superb walking tours. The one I’m talking about in this post is the ghost tour.
We were met at the bookstore on the corner of Concord and Cumberland street by our guide –Mr Neale.
Mr Neale is a professional actor, dancer and director and he certainly knows how to tell a captivating story. From the very start of this amazing tour, we were hanging on his every word, not to mention his coattails.
His stories of ghosts such as the lady in black standing in the window of what is now a restaurant beckoning for people to come and join her, a failing businessman who hanged himself after his cotton supply burnt to the ground and a whistling doctor who walks the cobbled streets of Charleston had us all intrigued and if I’m telling the truth – slightly terrified!
Charleston at night is an eerie place, to say the least. Try and go in December when the tiny paned windows are lit by flickering holiday candles and you will swear you can see shadows lurking around every street corner. We loved it. You will learn about the Battery Carriage House Inn that is said to be the most haunted hotel in Charleston SC. Many guests have witnessed a wailing torso hovering above their bed. A little tip: if you’re booked to stay here and you find yourself in room 8 or 10 – move.
I had to drag my daughter to visit the haunted hotel after the walking tour was over. I didn’t see a ghost but I did see two very entertained teenagers!
How Long Does The Walking Tour Take?
The walking tour takes an hour and twenty minutes although much to our delight Mr Neale went over this time. If you’ve got teenagers you will know how hard it is to impress them. Do this tour, stand back and watch them as they tune in to every word – wide-eyed and intrigued and not a screen in sight. It is wonderful.
After walking slowly around the tiny streets of Charleston at night – streets that would have otherwise have been missed, the tour ends in a particularly eerie spot.
Talking afterwards we all agreed that we thought Mr Neale was teasing us with his talk of paying a nighttime visit to the graveyard, but no. Tour Charleston is the only tour company in Charleston that has exclusive rights to enter the Unitarian graveyard. Tales of paupers graves beneath our feet and forlorn lovers searching for each other amidst the overgrown graves left us clinging to each other as we stood huddled together – thoroughly enjoying the drama that Mr Neale lay out in front of us.
The tiny cobbled streets that you would otherwise miss in Charleston at night. If you hear someone whistling…Run.
This isn’t just a ghost tour, this is also an entertaining history tour. We learned a great deal about this fascinating city and the people that lived here while at the same time receiving a private performance by an incredibly talented storyteller.
Mr Neale has performed on Broadway and he is now in Charleston telling families like ours ghost stories, all against the backdrop of the black night of Charleston.
How much do The Ghosts of Charleston Tours Cost?
Do not miss this opportunity – even if you don’t believe in ghosts. I do, Brian doesn’t and Sonny and Tess wish now that they didn’t have to answer.
I’d say this tour is suitable for ages 8 upwards. Unless you have a very brave child. Although in saying that, it was me that was too scared go to the bathroom on my own for a few hours afterwards, so use your discretion.
If you are looking for things to do in Charleston SC at night SC, then spend an evening eating good food, huddle up to the one you love and be prepared to be entertained in a way that you’d undoubtedly forgotten existed. No screens. No graphics. No 3D glasses.
Just real life storytelling.
The whole evening will cost you just $40 per person. If you go I’d love it if you could let me know if you spot a lady in a white dress. Or hear a whistle. Or a huffing torso. Let me know if your teenagers loved it as much as mine!
Why Not Just Book One of Fort Lauderdale Tours?
Anyone who reads this blog will know that we are currently on our world trip our first stop being Fort Lauderdale in Florida. And what better way to see Fort Lauderdale than by taking one of the many tours. Me, hair flying back in the wind, a glass of wine in hand, children laughing maniacally at the fact that there is no wifi. I could see it all.
If you are a regular reader you will also know that we are on a super tight budget. If we wish to see the things we have set out to see then we have to stick to the rules. Like Glue. Harder when you are travelling with two teenagers than it was when it was just the two of us. But, just because you are watching the pennies, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun. Read about how we took a Fort Lauderdale water tour, ate lunch, hired bikes and drank wine – all for less than the cost of one ticket on one of the many super duper tours that are on offer within the city.
On budget? Tick. Beautiful day? Tick. Bit of homeschooling thrown in? Absolutely!
What is Fort Lauderdale, Florida Like?
Ft Lauderdale is hot and pretty big. The population is 179,000. Remember, I am a Taranaki girl where the population of New Plymouth is 76,000 and although we emigrated from Bath in the UK where the number of residents was 176,000 – that was a long time ago, so to me, Fort Lauderdale seems huge.
The buildings are towering and sleek, each nudging their way to the prime spot beside the pristine white sand beach. Kids ride around on bikes with no hands, no shirts and no helmets. There are swaying palm trees, parrots, geckos and white pavements. There are lots of muscle cars. And shops. Fort Lauderdale is surrounded by waterways. You can take a boat up the intercoastal from Fort Lauderdale all the way to New Jersey without having to go out into the ocean.
As you drive around you pass over numerous little bridges catching fleeting glimpses of the beautiful houses that line the exquisite waterways resembling Venice.
Apart From Fort Lauderdale Tours, What Else is There to do in Ft Lauderdale? Plenty.
We are very fortunate to have family living in Ft Lauderdale and so were spoilt with treats and wonderful days out that we otherwise couldn’t possibly have written into the budget. We have been taken to see alligators, geckos and have walked our legs off at Universal Studios in Orlando.
But on Saturday we found ourselves home alone in Ft Lauderdale to fend for ourselves. It was time to plan something for ourselves.
But What do you do in Fort Lauderdale on a Budget?
The kids very thoughtfully suggested we could just stay at home with the wifi all day but after I hinted that if this were the case they might want to do a homeschool project they flew to the door begging for mercy.
We have only been gone from New Zealand for two weeks. They are not ready to do schoolwork. Nor do I think they will ever be ready for it. I’ve told you before. I think I’m the only homeschooling mother in the world that has actually turned her children against learning. I hear all of these stories of how home educating children produces this wonderful hunger within them to learn. Wel,l I’m still sitting at the dinner table waiting for them to show up. I love homeschooling, I am a big fan, but you know what? Right now I’m schooled and teachered out. I’m having a break. But of course, I wouldn’t tell the kids that. If it means mentioning a project to get them out of the wifi sealed doorway, I’ll suggest it.
Remember, although December is Fort Lauderdale’s winter and everyone is always saying how the weather has cooled down, to us New Zealand softies it’s still bloody boiling.
The thought of trapesing around shopping malls with two sweaty teenagers and very little money is not my idea of fun and those waterways looked so inviting.
Why Not Take One of the Many Fort Lauderdale Tours?
There are expensive day cruises that you can take, but they are just that. Expensive. There are tons of malls and restaurants, but when you are on a world round trip you won’t be able to venture into those, no matter how many times the teenagers say please. Twenty dollars for a hoodie will give us three weeks bed and breakfast in India thank you very much.
And then we heard about the Water Taxi.
Enter the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi.
Just what we were looking for.
A fleet of bright yellow water taxis open on the sides but covered on top to protect you from the sun or rain. These taxis are a genius and affordable way to see the city.
There are three scheduled routes that run the length of the city, each with their own designated stops. The Fort Lauderdale route, the Hollywood route and the new river route. The Fort Lauderdale route that we took has nine stops in total. You pay one fee and your pass is good for the whole day (and night). It starts running at 9.45 am and the last boat is 11 pm.
There are clearly marked stops at given stops. If you stayed on the boat and did the whole tour around the main Fort Lauderdale route without getting off, it would take you about three hours.
From the moment we stepped on to the boat I knew it was the right choice. It’s more like an exclusive tour boat than a taxi. Each boat has a guide that stands at the front of the boat giving a running commentary on everything as you go along. Yes! I was getting my home-schooling lesson without having to open my mouth.
What is there to see on the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi?
You chug along at a gentle pace but not a boring one and watch all the super yachts gliding past you. Ladened with supermodels and their sugar daddies. The kid’s jaws were wide open – but not as much as mine. Then there are the houses. Worth billions of dollars, owned by movie stars and inventors of shampoo. The biggest cruise ship in the world was berthed. In the world. You can imagine how much that impressed the kids.
The size of the houses and yachts you will see on this Fort Lauderdale Tour will impress even the coolest of teenagers. (Let’s face it. They may be owned by a YouTube star…)
There are toilets and also a bar on board where you can buy alcoholic drinks, sodas, popcorn and crisps. All pretty reasonable too. $1 for a bottle of cold water and $5 for a glass of wine. I won’t lie. I was tempted. The thought of watching superyachts from the little yellow water cab with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in my hand seemed a very attractive option, you know how I love my wine, but I resisted. Yes, it put me in a bad mood for about five minutes, sitting at the back of the boat resembling a water hog – but no matter, I’m a big girl. I got over it in no time.
Where to Eat While Taking the Water Taxi in Ft Lauderdale. (On a budget)
Teenagers have a habit of getting hungry so we hopped off the boat at stop 6. This is also where you get the connecting boat down to the Hollywood Florida area. I had looked on Trip Advisor and found a very highly rated deli so we gave it a try.
Walking anywhere in Ft Lauderdale is a mission. It is hot. Sonny is still in his thick black socks and his long pants. I swear that boy should have been raised in an igloo. The café was about a 12-minute walk from the boat stop and Sonny started to complain that his shoes were melting to his feet.
The New York Marina Deli serves HUGE sandwiches. The guy that runs it is from New York and is super friendly. Their motto is to make yourself at home and when S and T found there was free wifi they did just that. I think they were referring to the open tea, coffee and soda bar at the end of the counter where you can literally act as though you are at home. Just keep going back for more. Its all very relaxed and superb value for money. A HUGE sandwich fed two of us – and you know how a 16-year-old can eat. I won’t lie. He did ask for more but I said no. Free wifi and an unlimited amount of coffee. We would have been there all day.
We had to catch the next water taxi so I used that as my excuse and we bid adios to the New York deli and its free wifi charms, took our melting shoes and headed back to the water taxi.
Where did the Water Taxi Take you in the Afternoon?
We carried on down the river, all the while being told about the billionaire’s houses that lined the waterways. Jane Fonda had a place there, Samuel L Jackson – I think it was him. It might have been Spock from Star Treck – whatever, the houses are amazing to see. All I could think of was imagine cleaning that monster.
Hollywood District. Famous for the Margaritaville Hotel That Jimmy Buffet Sang about.
After years of driving home from work listening to this song, Brian was desperate to see where he was singing about.
It was now the afternoon and Brian was keen to go and see the Jimmy Buffet hotel Margaritaville. It’s in a district called Hollywood and it is stop number 9. The whole area feels like a cross between California and Blackpool. Lots and lots of bars but rather than northerners wearing kiss me quick hats it is lined with beautifully tanned bodies in pink diamante thongs. All over fifty. It does wonders for your confidence.
The fantastic thing about this place is the 2.5-mile boardwalk that runs alongside the beach. Note, this is not a boardwalk. There are no boards. It is made of concrete and is called a broardwalk. It reminded me a little of the coastal walkway in Taranaki my hometown, that too has an amazing broadwalk, but whereas in Taranaki you have to watch out for crashing waves splashing you, here you have to look out for the 80-year-old guy on his rollerskates with a Chihuahua in his arms.
What is There to do in the Hollywood District with Teenagers? (On a budget)
The boardwalk is worth getting off the boat for. Its filled with free entertainment. I wish I lived in a country where you could wear your bikini and everyone didn’t flee in the opposite direction screaming for their lives. It would be so liberating.
Much to the kid’s delight, we all decided to hire some bikes to cruise the broardwalk. Its far too long to be able to walk the stretch and back again within an hour, which is when we were due to get back on to the boat to meet our relatives.
Hire Some Cruising Bikes and c-r-u-i-s-e.
Go to the bike rental shop at the entrance to the beach. The bikes are $12 for an hour or $7 for 30 minutes. A little tip for you. Go to the shop with your phone or camera and start doing a vlog (a video). We have a camera and microphone that Brian bought for our trip, with along with the travel drone. You can read about that here and watch one of our videos. We all love filming vlogs – I have only just started and to be honest can’t figure out how to edit them, but Sonny is a pro. So I bribe him nicely and he edits them for me. He’s a good boy that one. Even if he won’t stop eating and using all the wifi.
Go to the shop looking as though you are vlogging and the lovely lady might do for you what she did for me, let me have the bikes for an hour at the price of 30 mins! It was fabulous, they are the kind of bikes with the huge cow horn handlebars and a massive comfy seat. Perfect for my big squashy old bum. I’m sorry, you can keep your racer thin sleek looking bikes. Those seats give women like me cystitis. If there had been a spare chihuahua going, I would have put it in the basket on the front to make me feel all Hollywoody.
Cruise the Boardwalk like a Local for just $7.
We spent a bliss filled hour cruising up and down the boardwalk in the warm afternoon sunshine. The sea is a beautiful turquoise, the sand is white and the people? Well, just do it for the people. It’s worth every penny, and at $28 for the four of us, it was a bargain. The kids loved it. Each one of us must have had our own little fantasy going on. Tess was McKenzie Zeigler cruising to dance class, Sonny was Logan Paul on his way to gatecrash some crazy party, Brian was Jimmy Buffet -one hand on the handlebar, the other holding something tall and strong. And me? I was the wicked witch out of the Wizard of Oz peddling really fast with Toto in the basket. Trying to keep up with the kids. “I’ll get you, my pretties…I’ll get you and you WILL do that home-school project…”
Don’t Miss This Extra Treat on The Water Taxi.
The afternoon was fantastic and cheap. Perfect. We boarded the taxi just after 5 and were in for a further treat.
Between 5 pm and 7 pm, the wonderful Fort Lauderdale taxi offers a happy hour. And oh, how this made Mummy happy. Two glasses of wine, ( I was kind, I gave one to Brian) a coke, and an apple juice – $8. Plus, free popcorn. It was divine. The wine was cold, the sun was starting to set over Hollywood beach, the kids were tired from the bikes – still not too tired to scoff as much popcorn as they could manage, and all the while the friendly, funny staff on the boat giving us a light-hearted history lesson on Ft Lauderdale. I didn’t want the ride to stop. It was perfect.
Two glasses of wine for the price of one you say? THAT makes me happy…
If you are lucky enough to visit Ft Lauderdale in December you will catch the holiday lights. As I said, your ticket for the water taxi is good for the whole day and night, meaning that you can hop on at night and cruise up and down in the warm evening breeze feasting your eyes on the lavishly decorated houses and yachts. And they are impressive. I can’t think of any better way to see them than from the water.
Nobody decorates their houses like the Americans. See all the beautifully lit houses form the deck of the boat on your amazing Fort Lauderdale tour!
The Cost of Our Water Taxi?
And with tickets priced at $26 for adults and $12 for children aged 5 -11, it’s an affordable option for those on a budget. If you just fancy the happy hour and the Christmas lights tour, hop on after 5 pm and it will only cost you $16 to cruise all night.
The whole day, including water taxi, lunch, bike hire and happy hour boat drinks cost less than a single ticket on one of the flash tour boat cruises that are on offer in Fort Lauderdale.
I’m going to track down the guide that held my children’s interest with his historical stories for so long and I’m packing him in my suitcase. Out with the chihuahua and in with the water taxi guide.
Now. Where’s my pink diamante thong?…
A wonderful tour of Fort Lauderdale all within budget. Don’t miss happy hour on the boat when the sun goes down!
We were happy to have been guests of the Water taxi. Thank you for an amazing day.
Before you move out of your house and start getting it ready to rent to another family, you will wrongly assume that you are living a sort of normal, clean, unattached life.
You will have this illusion that possessions mean nothing to you, that you’re a hippy chic that could wipe around her relatively clean and tidy house with a bleachy cloth and be out of the door and on the next plane to Florida before the sun sets.
And oddly enough, other people will have this conceived idea of you too.
They will come round to your house for dinner, see a clean on the surface house but will never be allowed to venture into the bedrooms.They may see a dog that has just been walked and so doesn’t sit there with her teeth chattering when someone picks up her ball. Or they might see kids that have just been rollicked and warned that if they get the phone out at dinner, there will be hell to pay. And finally, they will see a husband and wife that always seem so relaxed and chilled but who actually downed half a bottle of rum before you arrived.
You and I have a lot in common. Let’s be friends. (more…)