If you are like us you love to plan and take trips with your family. Sometimes that is easier said than done. When you are traveling with teens or tweens it is sometimes more difficult than when they were toddlers. Sure when they were toddlers you had to pack everything in your house but the kitchen sink. Now though they are able to give their opinions on everything from where you go, where you stay and where you eat. That’s ok though as long as you are planning for that. Just know that including them on the plans will help make this a trip to remember.
I’ve come up with 10 tips to help you, now remember these are my opinions but I have put them to the test. Take what applies to your family and happy travels!
Even before you make the deposit or book the hotel have a family meeting. Ask for their input on where they would want to go for the next family vacation. If there is no discussion you and know where you are visiting next, ask them to start researching the location and come up with specific excursions they would want to do or sights they don’t want to miss. The more you include them from the very beginning and give them the opportunity to make a few decisions the more buy in they will have on the whole trip. Which means you will not have to drag them kicking and screaming the whole way.
Yes you will have a time schedule to keep some of the time, but whenever possible let them be on their own time. So if you are an early riser, let them sleep in a couple of days and you go explore the local museums, or go to a coffee shop and take in the sights they may not be interested in. Our teens need more sleep (or so I am told) so why should their vacation be any different?
By all means I think it’s wonderful to learn new things as a family, but an entire trip with only education will have your teen tuning out really quick. Even the most studious of kids will be turned off as they need time to unwind as well. Let them be kids, even if that means taking them to an arcade to play some video games for awhile.
We learned this not to long ago as we took a cross country trip as a family. We had an amazing trip but we were also packed to the max in a minivan for 2 weeks. Our kids needed time to be alone (sometimes just without mom or dad) they needed to decompress in their own way and not have the whole family around to observe. When looking at accommodations if it’s in your budget spring for a suite with a separate bedroom or an adjoining room. Give them some freedom and space. For some of us that’s not going to be an option. You can however let them stay in the room and “veg” out while you go have a lovely dinner with adult conversation.
As parents we want to believe they can survive without it, and of course we know they can. However they do not feel the same way. Put guidelines on how much and when it can be used, but don’t try to fool yourself and ruin your trip. They want to stay connected to their friends back home and hopefully part of that will be sharing the epic vacation they are on with you! Our rule at home is no phones at the dinner table, so that rule would still apply while on a vacation. We will still get our meaningful family time and they can still have their social media, text, games, and music. OK so the last one is really important maybe only to our kids, we’ve reached the point mom and dad have horrible taste in music.
We know it is always important to listen to your kids, but vacation it’s vital. If they say they are tired believe them. Don’t try to rationalize the fact you are much older and more out of shape and you are doing just fine. It’s plain and simple if they are telling you something that will help improve their mood or the trip over all go with it.
I always thought when they were toddlers I would have to have snacks at the ready. I am finding out quickly that is not true in the least. My teens eat more now than I could have ever imagined. Plan meals accordingly and have snacks with you when you travel. We found even when exploring national parks, we needed to have snacks in the backpack so that they were happier longer.
I have found this helps me tremendously! I do not do the packing for them but I do create a list for them on our Keep app and share it with them. It makes my life and my trip so much more relaxed if I know they will have everything they need. I try to make the list as specific as possible. How many pairs of underwear, and socks. How many outfits, different pairs of shoes they will need, toiletries, and yes I put all of the electronics and everything that goes along with them on the list. I don’t want to be 3 hours down the road and they then realize their charger is at home. This tip really is to help us, the parents, it does make our teens trip smooth as well if they have everything they are going to need or want for it already with them.
When we travel we like to plan as much in advance as possible. For the most part that has worked out for us, but there has been occasions where we had to forgo what we had planned because it just worked better for the family. Remember things are not always going to go according to our plans, that’s a hard pill for me to swallow sometimes. I have to remember we are on vacation because we love to travel together and see new sights, not because mom or dad won an award for being the most organized on a vacation. It all comes down to family time and making memories.
Be sure while doing your research for your trip you are looking up activities that can be done as a family. Yes it is important they do some activities that are geared more for their own age, but you will want to create lasting memories as a family as well. An easy one is miniature golf, our kids love to beat mom every time! I wish I could say I let them win so they have a good time, but that’s simply not true.
Bottom line is you want to create lasting memories with you and your children. None of us are perfect, we have to remember to bring along our patience. Traveling with your teens can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do with them. I know for us we see a difference in the kids, and the family when we vacation. Sometimes when we see the kids become distant, moody, or disengaged that’s when we know it’s time to pack them up and hit the road.
I hope these 10 tips will either help you with the current trip you are planning or inspire you to start planning.