As soon as children become teenagers, they have a whole different set of challenges they need to face. Things like do they fit in and the fear of missing out on stuff can generate anxiety that then turns them into these creatures we don't always know how to handle. Their friends take priority in their lives as they try to navigate their interests and develop their independence.
Even though it can be a challenge, you shouldn't let it put you off going on holiday with them. They might not admit it, but they still want to go on vacation with you too, just not the same type of holiday you took them on a year or two ago. To enjoy your family holiday with teens, you need to decide what your objectives are in advance.
Traveling with teenagers can be challenging and sometimes downright unpleasant, but it can also be incredibly rewarding and pleasant if you keep these basic principles in mind:
- Involve them in the planning process.
Involving your teens in the planning process from the start will make them feel like their opinion matters. If they are part of the decision making, they have to share responsibility for the success of the trip. Take into account their interests when searching for a destination - once the destination is set, each of you can find points of interest you'd like to explore. You might be surprised to see something on their list that matches yours.
- Choose your accommodation wisely.
Teenagers do not do well in confined spaces or when having to share a room with parents or other siblings. If your budget doesn't allow separate hotel rooms but only separate tents, then so be it, just make sure they have their space.
- Don't expect your teenager to leave their phones at home.
Even though it is frustrating having to always look at your teen's face over some electronic device, it is not advised to force them to not bring their phone along on holiday. They will want to take 1000's of pictures and keep in touch with their friends.
To avoid huge roaming bills, make sure you have wifi access at your accommodation or if necessary, buy yourself a local SIM card. Do some research on the internet to find free wifi spots at your destination.
- Avoid plans that require them to get up early.
Sleeping in is serious business for teenagers, almost a human right. Use the time to have breakfast in peace or go for a walk if you don't wish to sleep late. This can also be your opportunity to see certain things you know they will not be interested in.
- Find activities that will challenge you both.
Whether it's facing a fear of heights or trying scuba diving for the first time, face those challenges together. When you have both conquered your fears, you'll have bonded in more ways than you think possible with a teenager. Teens need to burn calories, and these hormone-driven creatures thrive on daily physical activity to release feel-good endorphins. Adventure loaded vacations will also provide opportunities to acquire outdoor skills.
- Plan for plenty of downtimes.
When traveling, there is always a temptation to rush so you don't miss out on anything but this is not advised when traveling with teens. If you've had an all-day outing or a few days packed with activities, follow it up with a 'chill day'. You can use the time to go out and explore on your own or stay in and order room service while watching movies.
- Be fun and flexible.
It is no secret that things rarely turn out the way you plan. Sometimes the attraction you wish to visit is unexpectedly closed or the weather doesn't allow for the activity you planned. Don't let this get you down, take advantage of your surroundings. Explore on foot or rent a car to explore other attractions you might not have had on the list. Find a cozy cafe for shelter from the rain but learn to go with the flow as much as you can - expect the unexpected.
- Don't let food be an issue.
One of the pleasures of travelling is experiencing different foods from different cultures. This is not to say your teenager will be into dining at five-star restaurants unless they have a highly developed palate of course. While seeing you teen munching on a burger in Paris might make you weep inside, give them a break and don't argue about food choices. Most places usually manage to cater to various tastes, so chances are you'll find something you both like at the same restaurant. Teens feel better when they have choices and don't feel so controlled. You can, however, plan one fine dining restaurant per trip as part of their culinary education.
- Accept the fact that bad moods will happen.
You can’t make everyone happy all the time. Most teenagers quickly get into bad moods when they need their space. If you feel like you can trust your teen's common sense and you are in a safe and secure environment, give them the freedom to go out and explore on their own. This will also help lighten their mood.
- Post-trip abandonment is inevitable.
Don't take it personally when your teen retreats to their room as soon as you return home from vacation. It doesn't mean they didn't enjoy the trip; it just means they need their space. Teenagers need loads of personal space to figure out who they are - it's all about stretching their wings in preparation to leave the nest.
A family holiday helps ensure you’ll get quality time with your loved ones while making some epic memories, even if it takes some extra effort when teenagers are involved. But don't let this discourage you from taking that trip, most college-age adults remember how they complained during family vacations, but add that those times continue to be some of their favorite family memories.
So, is it worth all the patience required and money it costs to travel with teens? I would say Yes! Someday your kids will thank you. It may not be until they’re 25, but it will happen.
Adele Kruger is a freelance content writer for selected businesses in different niches and offers her web design skills as an extra. She is the owner of GoEatExplore.com where she writes about Immigration, Travel and Food.