Teenagers mature at different rates. But even if your teenager is very mature for their age, it might be a good idea to stop and think for a moment when they start talking about going away on holiday with their friends.


Think about what you do when you’re away on holiday. Many adults see partying and alcohol as a natural part of their holiday. Once the bags are checked in, the airport bar tends to fill up pretty quickly, even if it’s only 6 a.m. And once you’re on the plane, spirits, wine and beer are on sale, and once you’ve reached your holiday destination how about a celebratory drink on the balcony?  Alcohol norms  that apply back home often disappear when you’re on holiday. Having a beer with your lunch and a drink in the afternoon is perfectly natural for many adults. Not everyone does this when they’re on holiday, of course, but it’s very common, nonetheless. So it’s hardly surprising if teenagers think about alcohol when they think about travel. Think about what you’re doing and remember that you’re a role model for your child.

Everyone was drinking like crazy when we went on an All Inclusive. You could just go up to the tap and help yourself to beer. Even the kids were doing it. No one was keeping track.

Sasha, aged 15, Örebro


A lot of organised trips are designed to appeal to party-mad young people. Alcohol and drugs are both widely available and there are no adults standing in their way. The youngsters can just go into the first bar they see and get drunk, whether they head for ”Bar Street” on Rhodes, to a ski resort in the Alps, or to Malta to study English. Even if your teenager would rather not drink, travelling without adults is risky, so it’s up to you, as a parent, to weigh up the positive experience of independent travel against the risk of something going wrong.


Most of the big language course travel firms have a total ban on alcohol and narcotics. Anyone caught with drugs will be sent home at their own expense and will not get a refund for the course. But it’s worth bearing in mind that the organisers can’t keep an eye on every single teenager, 24/7.


There are, alongside the well-known travel firms, a number of companies specialising in travel for young people, where partying and alcohol are often the main attraction. Most travel firms have an age limit of 18, but travelling unaccompanied when you’re under 18 is still possible if you can show a signed authorisation from your parents.


You’re the parent, so it’s obviously you who decides, but you don’t have to automatically say, “No” without thinking about it. Travelling independently can be both exciting and educational. Discuss what might happen and how important it is that they take care of themselves. You also need to make it clear to your teenager that people from different cultures may have a completely different attitude towards alcohol and that the way they handle drunken youngsters might be a lot different from what they’re used to.

When I was abroad, I could walk into the nearest grocery store and buy spirits and cider. Nobody said anything or stopped me.

Amira, aged 15, Gothenburg


There’s nothing odd or wrong about saying “No” to a teenager who wants to go on holiday with  their friends. You have every right to refuse. You’re not a cruel parent, even if your teenager’s friends are being allowed to go and you have said, “No.” Consider how often that’s actually true – that everyone else is allowed to do something – and about how often it works out that way because that’s what every child says to their slightly dubious parents.

More to read about the same topic

If parents are not around

Festivals, home parties and trips abroad are examples of situations where adults are rarely present. There are some pitfalls that you, as a parent, should be aware of and that you can teach your teenager how to handle.

Useful contacts and more info

It can sometimes be good to talk to someone who knows a bit more about teenagers and alcohol, or about anything else, for that matter.

If you want to do more

There’s a lot you can do to support and be there for teenagers. Maybe you can take part in night-time patrols, or make it easier for them to say “no”, or help promote a smarter approach to alcohol in some other way.

Other important topics to read about

Teenagers and alcohol

There are many considerations that can easily arise when your child becomes a teenager. But first and foremost: how do young people think about drinking themselves? And why is it more dangerous to drink alcohol in adolescence than as an adult?

Take responsibility

Maybe you sometimes feel pretty helpless as a parent. But there’s a lot you can do. As always showing that you care, that you’re there and that you are happy to listen. And often it’s important to be clear about what you expect of your teenager.

Yes or no?

The clearer you communicate your expectations, the easier it is for your teenager to take a stand or do what you say. Also, think about what sort of message and values you’re conveying to your child.

The teenage years

The teenage years are a very special time in your child’s life. Teenagers are navigating the frontier lands between childhood and adulthood and there are a lot of new things to handle: school, friends, being allowed to stay out late, sex, parties and – not least – alcohol.

Teenager’s drinking habits

Not only is it illegal to buy alcohol for young people, but most adults think that alcohol is something teenagers should be avoiding. So where are teenagers getting their alcohol? How much do they drink? And what sort of problems do young people experience in connection to alcohol?

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