While teenagers are known to be moody, lazy and obsessed with social media, they’re also the ones who can make or break a family vacation. No parent wants to leave their teenager behind, and you don’t have to do so. More often than not, they’re up for having a good time with the family — it might just take a group effort. Follow our tips for traveling with teens and you’ll be well on your way to having a happy and peaceful family getaway.
Before You Go
Ask for your teen’s input.
When you’re in the planning stages of your vacation, sit down with everyone and figure out what kind of vacation each person wants. Finding a vacation that suits everyone isn’t just wishful thinking. If you let your teen help plan the trip, he or she will feel more involved and the family vacation will start out on the right foot.
Choose your destination wisely.
If you want to relax on the beach but your teen wants to hang out in an arcade, maybe this is the year for a family cruise. Want to try a group tour vacation where your teen can make friends? Consider an all-inclusive family tour for teens. If your teen wants an adventure vacation, but you’re concerned about costs, consider a national park family vacation. You get the idea. If you think outside the box and explore each possible destination in depth before you choose, chances are, everyone’s vacation expectations will be met.
Related: Best Cruise Ships for Teens
Find the right hotel.
While staying on the outskirts of town might save you a few bucks, having lots of attractions near your hotel might save you some aggravation. Not only will you cut down on the travel between sights, but your teen can also take some time to explore the area around the hotel when you all need a break. Looking for ideas? Check out 10 Best Resorts for Teens in 2017 and Best All-Inclusive Resorts for Teens.
Set a budget.
On vacation, it’s easy to blow your budget by buying all sorts of mementos to keep the kids happy. But if you give your teen a budget and even let him or her keep any leftover money, they’ll be less likely to spend all of it on souvenirs you’ll find under his or her bed a week after you get home. Plus, having a budget might allow for a few unexpected activities that will make the whole family happy!
Give your teen space.
If possible, book adjoining hotel rooms or rooms adjacent to one another. If you rent a vacation home, make sure your teen has his or her own bedroom. Teens love their privacy, and feel more like the adults they want to be when they have their own space.
Related: Hotel Rooms for Large Families
Bring a friend.
Traveling with another family has its pros and cons — on one hand, you can enjoy adult time while the kids keep each other company, but on the other, you have to adjust to another family’s idea of fun. Another possibility is letting your teen bring a friend on vacation. If it isn’t too cost-prohibitive and the friend’s parents are on board, having your teen bring a friend just might mean more downtime for you. You might also consider letting them use the buddy system to enjoy an activity separate from the group — perhaps a lazy day on the beach or a resort spa treatment.
Related: 10 Safety Tips for Travel With Teens
In the Air
When fights occur and meltdowns happen (and they will), try and move on as quickly as possible. Hopefully, the less you dwell, the less your teen will, too.
Have your snacks handy.
You might be worried that your little ones will get hungry quickly while traveling, but your teens are the ones who will remain calm if their stomachs are full. Bring a few protein bars, bags of trail mix and maybe a few sweet treats on the plane or in the car. Your 15-year-old will thank you.
Prioritize in-flight entertainment.
Opt to fly on an airline that offers in-flight Wi-Fi, along with the option to watch movies or television shows. Such airlines include Southwest, American, US Airways, JetBlue and Delta.
Related: Best Airlines for Families
Give them responsibilities.
Teens might not initially want to take on responsibilities, but when it comes down to it, they’re growing into adults and are ready to help. Ask your teen to do an important task such as take their younger brother or sister to the bathroom. If they’re old enough, ask them to drive a part of your road trip. The responsibility will give your teen something to do before they get bored. Plus, it’ll make them feel like more of an adult.
On the Ground
Bend the rules.
Yes, your teen needs discipline. But if keeping the peace means more dessert than dinner, more movies than museums or letting him or her sleep in while you visit the ninth church on your list, just go along with it.
Let your teen choose an activity.
If the only thing your teen wants to do is ride bumper cars or relax on the beach, let him or her do it. Allowing him or her the freedom to choose will make them feel special. In fact, everyone in the family should have their chance to choose an activity on the trip. It’s everyone’s vacation, after all.
Related: 8 Best Amusement Parks for Teens
Skip the alarm.
Of course you want to make the most of your vacation, but to your teen, sleeping in might be all the vacation he or she needs. Don’t set an alarm for the whole family. Allow your teens to sleep a little later in the mornings. Use the time that they’re still in bed to visit the spa, revisit an attraction you felt rushed at the day before, or do a little souvenir shopping.
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