Remember the days when the personal stresses of family travel centered around dealing with tantrums, packing enough snacks, finding clean restrooms to change diapers, and remembering essential toys? Traveling with young kids all seemed so daunting then, didn’t it? Fast-forward about ten years or so and that stress has morphed into something new, something pubertal - traveling with teens. How on earth do you make them happy? How do you keep them happy? How do you consistently engage them while traveling as a family?
Teen Spirit — Photo courtesy of Lucian Savluc
Well, first, every teen is different, so no blanket statement made here will suffice. However, the following tips and suggestions may help in keeping your stress levels down and your teen’s excitement levels up. The bottom line is that you have to allow them to be a part of the vacation planning process as much as they want to be involved.
Half the time teenagers don’t know what they want to do, so why put the pressure on yourself to figure things out for them. Today, they’re much more independent than they were ten years ago. Give them the opportunity and the freedom (they like that), to make some of the vacation choices on their own. Here are some other tips:
- This may seem obvious but ask them what they like to do and what they don’t like to do.
- Let them see and help you choose what resort the family will stay in.
- Have them choose a few “family time” activities you all will do together.
- Get them to decide where the family will have lunch/dinner a couple of times.
- Choose a resort that has a healthy teen program or teen-only “sanctuaries” where they can venture out and meet new friends, enjoying vacation time on their own. This is a win-win situation for everyone.
- If you have the patience and can afford to do it, coordinate with one of your teen’s friend’s parents and make arrangements for a buddy to come along on the family vacation.
Time is so fleeting - what you could get away with when your adolescent traveler was an infant, toddler, preschooler, and elementary-age quickly becomes enviable. The pool and the beach, on their own, get boring fast and are no longer enough. Dealing with your growing child on vacation doesn’t have to be stressful just as long as you remember to include them in some of the decisions, ask for their input, establish mutual respect, and give them time to themselves. And enjoy your alone time while you’re at it.