Most teens, most of the time, have their heads down and eyes glued to their "gadgets," on a trip, be it cell phone, iPod, or laptop. Friends are much more important than what Dad is trying to point to outside the window. (Whatever it is, is going to be "lame.") Take heart - there is hope. Much of this behavior is a big facade, covering the fact that they truly are getting something out of the trip and really are enjoying themselves, although they'd never want YOU to know that.
Travel with teens need not be tedious — Photo courtesy of half alive - soo zzzz
Seek the Balance
With the many stresses in a teen's life these days, it's important to let them have their down time and spend their leisure hours in a way that they find relaxing. Playing the same video game 100 times over may be their preferred way to zone out.
Also, at this time in their life, sleep is critical. They want it and they actually need it. Even though you may feel utter frustration that they choose to snooze instead of seeing the world's largest pistachio, it's not a bad thing to let them have this time to themselves.
Of course, a healthy balance is good on a family vacation. So as long as some guidelines are set at the beginning of the trip - some time to themselves but also time to spend with family, and join in activities - things should go fine. Telling a teen how they will spend every minute of their vacation never goes over well.
Trips to see relatives (especially ones that are seldom seen) are appreciated by teens. At this age, teenagers respond well and look up to extended family members and it is important to instill the bonds of family and family history in them. They like hearing funny stories of what their mom or dad did as a kid, and will remember these things forever.
The Flat-line Fake-out
Teens are not going to express themselves the way we think they should, so if they don't shout "Wow" or jump up and down at seeing the Washington Monument, it doesn't mean it's not embedded in their memories forever. Although many parents want to educate their young adults when traveling to such important landmarks, a little history can go a long way. Let them soak it in the way they'd like.
Let Freedom Ring
A small dose of freedom and responsibility makes a teen feel special on a trip. Let them earn your trust in giving them a key and allowing them to go to eat at the pool cabana, for instance, and be back to the room at a certain time. Such independence makes them feel mature, and when handled responsibly, they should be rewarded with other freedoms.
Roadtrip — Photo courtesy of worak
After so many years of telling your young children what to do, it is so very difficult to turn the switch and add compromise to the mix, respectfully asking your young adult for his time, or his willingness to do things, but such treatment will bring reciprocal respect and keep family and vacation time much more peaceful and enjoyable. And yes, it's okay to take their picture next to the giant pelican - it's your parental obligation to embarass them - a little bit!