Spring break is upon us and sometimes traveling with a teen can be a real challenge. Planning a trip that provides them with some independence while still including quality family time is tough to do. Yet with a little travel savvy, it is possible to organize the type of trip that will actually excite your teen. Here are a few strategies for how to travel successfully with a teen.
Teens don’t like being told what to do. Incorporate them into the vacation decision-making process. You can learn more about what they are interested in and they will be more invested in the trip. Maybe your teen has been learning about the Grand Canyon in school and a hiking trip would bring it all to life or they are interested in underwater life and want to take a snorkeling trip. Letting your kids’ imagination run wild is important — so why not apply that technique to travel?
Having an itinerary is important to traveling, but mix in some spontaneity to keep things exciting and interesting. Nothing drives teens crazy like having every minute of every day managed. Keep in mind that this is a vacation for them too and consider planning a single activity for the day, whether that’s white-water rafting or exploring a museum and then giving them space to do as they please. While your teen is off swimming or kayaking (or texting), you will have the chance to catch up on a good book or even enjoy a glass of wine.
Nothing will irk a teen more than squeezing into a tiny hotel room with the whole family. So why not consider a vacation rental instead? When everyone has his or her own space to sleep, the mood will immediately improve. Whether your teen wants to stay up late watching TV or texting friends, they won’t disturb the rest of the family when they have a living room or separate bedroom to hide out in.
It’s possible that nothing will make your teen as excited about a trip as bringing a friend. When you choose a vacation rental with multiple bedrooms, this all of a sudden becomes an affordable possibility. Say you’re planning a trip to a beautiful lake house. Your teen will enjoy having someone to water ski or kayak with, and you can take a long bubble bath. This strategy will ensure every member of the family is happy on vacation.
Vacation is the perfect time to give your teens some responsibility. Instead of treating them like kids, why not put them in charge? An important part of parenting is having high expectations. Maybe you want to go out to dinner one night. Can you trust your teen to stay in with his or her siblings and order a pizza? Odds are, your teen will rise to the occasion and appreciate the trust you put in them. The same goes for activities. If your teens want to try horseback riding or fishing, let them give it a try.
It can be a real transition when your kid grows into a teen. You might be used to traveling a certain way, but with a few minor changes, you can travel successfully with a teen. A little extra planning in advance can ensure a smooth trip for the whole family.
Guest writer Laura Hoot has been writing professionally since 2004 and currently manages HomeAway’s Travel Ideas site. She also runs a household of three dogs, a cat, two chickens and a baby boy with her husband. She’s written for USA Today’s travel site, GirlsGetaway.com , Cheapo Air, Travels.com, Trails.com, eFilmCritic.com, The Budget Fashionista, Travellogged.com and many more sites.