Teenagers are moody, notoriously difficult to please and often unwilling to spend time with their families. So is it possible for a family to travel successfully when there is a teenager in their midst? I think it is - as long as you keep the following five tips in mind.
1. Consult Them
During the planning stage it is crucial to discuss the options with your teenager. Think about their interests, ask them about their preferences and let them make some choices about what the family will do while on vacation. In short, if you get them to buy-in to the plans up-front then they are less likely to complain about activities during the vacation.
2. Give Them Some Privacy
Whenever possible, choose accommodations that will afford your teenager some measure of privacy. We have found that as our older daughter has entered her tween and teenage years it has become more important to have suite or apartment style accommodations so that she can separate and not have to spend every waking minute with us. Having separate bedrooms and a living area will also allow a teenager to sleep in a bit while other members of the family get up and get ready for the day. Sometimes that little extra bit of sleep can make all the difference in the world to the mood for the day.
3. Be Smart About Scheduling
Wise parents need to realize that teenagers have different sleep patterns than everyone else in the family and schedule activities accordingly. If you plan too many activities to start early in the morning then you are just asking for a miserable teenager. Planning for a later start to the day, when possible, will increase the likelihood that your teenager will be more cooperative on the days when you have no choice but to get up and get moving.
4. Remember that Electronics Can Be Your Friend
Don't ban electronics all together. Yes, in an ideal world your teenager will be engaging with their family and enjoying their vacation destination without having to resort to iPods or laptops, however, that's just more than most of us can realistically hope for. Sometimes a bit of time spent on Facebook chatting with friends at home, sharing a photo on Instagram or just sitting quietly listening to music may be all it takes to ensure that your teenager remains happy.
5. Encourage Socializing
Vacations like cruising or staying at resorts lend themselves easily to meeting other teenagers and socializing. Encourage your teen to get out and meet other kids their age whenever that possibility exists. Hanging out with new friends is infinitely more fun than hanging out with uncool family members - let them and it will buy you much needed goodwill. An even better option, when possible, is to bring a friend along on your travels - with a built-in companion you can almost guarantee a happy teen for the duration of the trip.
Having a teenager doesn't mean that you need to stop traveling. I find that it is actually easier for everyone to get along on vacation when the stresses of day to day life (like nagging about homework and tidying the bedroom) have been removed from the equation. Keep these tips in mind and your vacation should go much more smoothly.
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