I am not sure how it happened. Just when I got the hang of travelling with young children, I looked up and the little tricksters had turned into different beasts entirely; requiring a whole new set of rules for success.
Planning: A Spoonful Of Sugar
When you are in the planning stages of finding exciting destinations to travel to, offer your top three destinations to choose from. Then get them to do the research. Proffering a long list of your top activity choices such as museums, art galleries and culture-walks gives a certain added impetus to finding teen-centric alternatives. They’ll enjoy the responsibility, empowerment and the trust you give them.
Enroute: A Bitter Pill
After the research is done, ban all unnecessary electronic devices. Phones can be kept for emergencies in case you get separated. Steel yourself against a wave of whinging about this.
On The Road:
One thing that never seems to change no matter how old they get are the ‘are we there yet?’ moments. Assign jobs on the road: chief navigator, director of videography, top DJ and head photographer.
Food For Thought:
While most adults relish the thought of trying local delights, many teens may dread the idea of ‘exotic’ food. Alternatively, let older teens eat out on their own and allow the younger ones some leeway (even if it involved fast-food).
Space: The Final Frontier
Teenagers need space and privacy. The times when the whole family were squeezed up in one bed are gone, instead book adjacent rooms/apartments or ‘glamp’ (glamorous camping) in a separate tent. Plan a schedule that includes a good balance of physical activity and rest such as pool time, or movie afternoon.
Suddenly your little early birds have turned into big night owls. Letting teens sleep in (within reason) is mutually beneficial, perhaps make plans for yourself during those morning hours (shop, spa, museum).
Teens will not thank you for a location that is in the back of beyond. Visit areas with a vibrant, safe nightlife. Find a place where you know other teens are too. The exercise is trust so they need a designated time to be back. Alternatively, leave them to ‘hang’ at home while you paint the town.
Cruises can be a great option for families with teens, alternatively skiing holidays can also work as many resorts have programmes designed for their age group. Adventure sports, laid back low-key, visiting relatives, historic sites and water parks can all work well together. Be aware of everyones needs and wants in advance.
The key to happiness on the road is everyone getting their needs met. It requires a lot more flexibility and trust as parents, but with pre-planning and awareness, it can be a time of bonding that the whole family needs while having a fabulous travel adventure.