During our recent OneTravel Chat on Twitter, we discussed traveling with kids. All participants had wonderful stories about creating memories with their families, as well as helpful tips to keeping young ones occupied during long travel stints. But one of the trickier questions that came up had to do with older kids; how do you keep your teenaged children interested and entertained when traveling as a family? Teens are generally famous for not liking…things. Or at the very least, working very hard to not like (or pretend not to like) whatever their parents enjoy. Hey, it’s the age of rebellion. They’re entitled. But if you only get so many days off per year, you don’t want to spend it with a snarky, eye-rolling stick-in-the-mud. Here are a few keys tips on making your 13- to 18-year-old actually have fun on vacation (so you can too):
1. Ask For Their Input
Teenagers are at a difficult age. They’re still kids, but becoming adults. They don’t like being treated like the latter, so try to give them a little credit. Helping with the planning stages of your vacation will make your teen feel respected and involved. It will also help ensure that they’ll have more fun once you’re on your way. They helped picked the place, so why wouldn’t they enjoy it?
2. Let Them Bring a Friend
You’ve probably already noted that your teen is more comfortable ( and often like a completely different person) when they’re with their friends, then when they’re at home with the family. If it’s feasible, let them bring their BFF along. They’re feel more at ease, and may even feel more daring and willing to try things that would seem lame with just the folks. (Taking a goofy group selfie is great with friends, not with your parents.) If another traveler isn’t in your budget, talk to the other parents. They’ll probably be more than willing to pay at least part of their kid’s way, if for no other reason than to get them out of the house for a few days.
3. Give Them Some Space
Spending time together is great, but being confinded to the same airplane for 5 hours, or the same hotel room for 5 days, will make some time apart seem like a dream. Especially if your teen is bringing a friend, give them some space to do their own thing. Even if it’s just to sit at a separate table at lunch, or to go on an amusement park ride. Remember – if they’re doing their own thing, then you can too!
4. Bend The Rules
Being a little strict or protective in the day-to-day is understandable. But just like how you might relax the rules of your diet (or your wardrobe) when you’re on vacation, you should relax the rules you place upon your teens. So, let them stay up later, or sleep in longer. Let them eat a little more junk food than usual. Just be sure they know that when the party’s over, everything goes back to normal.
5. Be A Good Sport
Just like how you might want your teen to loosen up and try new things, so should you. There will most likely be a point on your trip where your kid really wants to try an activity or go somewhere that you have no interest in – but you didn’t leave your hometown to just do the same old thing! We’re not saying you have to try bungee jumping, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t attempt snowboarding. Or going on a haunted ghost town tour. Or try an intimidating new cuisine. Even if you end up embarasing yourself a bit, the fact that you went along will be appreciated. And think of all the memories!
We cover a lot of great travel topics during our Twitter chats. Join in, every Thursday at 2pm EST (except Christmas and New Year’s Day). Follow the hashtag #OneTravelChat, or just follow us @OneTravel for more info!