When it comes to family travel, almost nothing compares to the challenges of traveling with teens. Sure, traveling with infants is no easy task, but as the parent, you really can set the tone for the trip. But with teens – all that changes. It’s during these years that your kids may assert themselves more, sleep in and expect everyone to cater to their schedule – or worse yet, ask to stay at home instead of indulging their moms and dads with the long-awaited family vacation.
The good news is that all is not lost. You just have to find out what makes your son or daughter “tick” – and include them throughout the family travel planning process so you can create an itinerary that works for you, them and the rest of your brood. Some simple ways to do this include:
· Formulating a list of destinations together, then whittling it down to somewhere you can all agree on.
· Selecting a hotel that specializes in family travel. Many of these types of accommodations will feature amenities for everyone in your family, including pools, spas, tennis, outdoor activities, beaches and even special day camps for younger kids.
· Asking your teens what they’d like to get from their vacation – then challenging them to find events and attractions that meet their needs (and would be appropriate for everyone in your family).
· Once you’ve arrived, give them a taste of life beyond their teens by leaving your younger kids with your spouse or a babysitter and spending a night on the town. Go to a nice dinner, hit the theater or listen to some live music. This will help your teens see you through new eyes – and give them a glimpse at the experiences that lie ahead.
· Giving your teens a day to plan activities for the entire family – from where to eat breakfast to how to spend the evening. You’ll not only get to know your teens better, but doing all of the family travel planning for the day will give them a sense of responsibility.
· Cutting them some slack. You don’t want to put teens in the middle of a new city and let them fend for themselves, but giving them a little breathing room on your trip might be a good thing. Even if it’s only separating for a couple of hours at a museum or letting them catch a movie while you go to lunch with your spouse, it just might do you – and them – a world of good.
For those of you with just one child… a teen… it may behoove you to allow him or her to bring a friend along. Although this extra person will certainly add a twist to your usual family dynamic, it may well prove to be a fun, positive thing for you and them.