It’s vacation time and your kids are finally old enough to not have to be on a child leash or watched every second so that they don’t run off in the crowd. Nope, they’re teenagers now. So surely it will be easier.
Are you off your rocker?
Sure, traveling with teenagers is nothing like traveling with a toddler. But as far as difficulty goes, it’s pretty much even. They don’t want to see that museum you wish to check out. They are vocal about how “stupid” the scenery is or how boring the plans you laid out are. They are hardly impressed with the hotel you have chosen. They are totally embarrassed to be seen anywhere with you, and spend the whole vacation walking several yards behind you – as if they actually sprung up out of the ground instead of admitting they are related to you. And it is apparent, your vacation has totally interrupted their social life.
However, a family vacation with your difficult teen can still be successful – maybe even fun.
The most important tip I can suggest to you is to include your teen in the planning of the trip. If they are a part of the brainstorming suggestions for where to go and what hotel to stay in, they are more inclined to enjoy it. After all, it was “their idea”. And teens have some really great ideas for why someplace would be great to visit. This is also a great way to teach them lessons in budgeting as you go over prices of airfare, hotel, car rentals, food, and all other vacation related expenses.
Nix the museums or travel places dedicated to things such as architecture (unless your teen is really into those kinds of things), and steer more towards vacations that are more activity oriented. Places like the beach, camping trips, or big city adventures are very appealing to kids in this age group. Even better, allow the kids of the family to come up with one fun activity each for the whole family to do. The more fun you have planned for the family, the less time they can claim they are bored. And in the meantime, they will hopefully forget that you are embarrassing them.
If your budget allows, book a separate room for your teens. They want their own space too, and a little bit of room for them to spread out will help them not feel so suffocated by family time. Not only that, you won’t be forced to step over all of their mess in the hotel room. Extra bonus? You get a little alone time on vacation with your spouse to do….well, I’ll leave that up to you.
Let your teen still be the tech slave they are at home – to a degree. Sure, it would be nice if your teenager would stop texting their friends or checking Facebook the whole time they are away from home. But let’s be realistic. This is a very big part of who they are. If necessary, set guidelines for when they are allowed to be sucked in by technology. Set up times during the day when they can text their friends. If overseas, check into internet options at the hotel so they can communicate through a computer. Just think about how your vacation will be with a sulking deprived teen. Yup, it’s better to keep the technology around.
Finally, ease up on the rules. This is their vacation too. If they are sleeping in late, would rather hang at the hotel pool than the ocean, or are making the hotel room just as messy as their room at home – bite your tongue and choose your battles carefully. At this age, you can enjoy breakfast without them as they sleep in. You can trade off days at the pool or the ocean. And the mess? That’s what corners are for. Look the other way and spend as little time in the room as possible.
Are you vacationing with a teen this summer? Perhaps you already have. What are some tips that you have come across that can allow a family vacation to still be fun?
After years of traveling with two teenagers, I’ve learned how to plan a great vacation for both me and my hard-to-please off-spring.
Thanks for the information, it’s very useful!!
Josefina – Mexico