This is a post filled with tips for travel with teens, or as I like to call it, making it through your next family vacation alive. Potato, potahto.
Raising teenagers is the final frontier in parenting. If you can just get them through the next few years of their life and safely deliver them into adulthood, you can put a virtual checkmark next to the biggest “to-do” of your life. As someone currently on the precipice of getting to the other side, I can tell you that while travel with teens can have its challenges, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have as a parent.
One of the biggest hurdles parenting teens, no matter where you are, is overcoming their sometimes bristly exterior. One moment they’re the sweet loveable kid you’ve known since birth and the next they’re a hormonal mess pushing you away.
Don’t fall for it; while teens are eager to assert their independence, studies suggest they want to spend more time with their parents, not less, and there is no better time to pull your teen closer than on a family vacation.
Here are few tips to draw them closer and hold on a little longer while on vacation.
Survival Tips for Travel with Teens
Rest assured that your teen will leave all emo, dramatic tendencies back at home until your vacation is over, so no need to discuss their moods here. Bahahahahahaha. Oooooh, that’s a good one. *wipes tears* I crack myself up occasionally.
The reality is the same moody teen you deal with in your hometown will make an appearance around the globe. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, due to fatigue and not eating for more than two hours, you might get an even more amplified version of that kid. Accept that for the most part it’s out of their control, and let them embrace it. They will return to their former selves fast enough.
Let Them Plug In
This is contrary to all the advice you’ll hear about telling them to unplug, but the reality is you’ll just end up with another fight on your hands if you try to get them to go cold-turkey for a week. Instead, establish strict no-tech times, like at meal time and during excursions.
When on excursions, leave all phones in the hotel room except one to take pictures, that everyone can download later. Otherwise, let them snap back and do it for the ‘gram, just remind them to take in the view. Model responsible phone use, by tucking yours away occasionally too.
Connect Through Adventure
Teens are ready for big adventure and pushing limits, and your vacation is the perfect time to embrace it. Research activities ahead of time, and be sure to check online reviews. As parents, it’s always good to ensure that the company you’re doing activities with always puts safety first.
Not only will your teens get to push their boundaries in a safe environment, they’ll also have the opportunity to see you in a different light. Who knew Mom could be such a daredevil?
Give Them Their Space
Too old for kids’ clubs and too young for discos, teens need a space to call their own. A good teen club will offer a space with video games, table games and a space to chill. It’s also a great place for teens to make new friends.
Have your teen investigate which resorts will fit their needs and make your decision as a family. If you’re not staying on a resort, be sure to check out the area together before you let them explore on their own and establish how you’ll contact each other.
Trip the Light Fantastic
The best part of travelling with teens is taking advantage of all there is to do from dusk to dawn. No longer in bed by eight, everyone can get dressed to impress and head out to paint the town red. Take in amazing shows together, dance like nobody’s watching and connect under the stars.
Added bonus: you know your teen will sleep in the next day. The only problem is you might have a hard time staying up as late as they do. Oh, how the times have changed.
Slow Your Roll
Family vacations are the perfect time to find out what’s really happening in your teen’s life when everyone is freed from chaotic schedules. Make the time to chill on the beach, or under a private cabana near the pool. I can personally confirm that there is no better place to connect than floating on the water.
Far from the judgement of their peers, don’t be afraid to hold your teens hand like you used to or squeeze them in a bear hug just a little bit longer; despite the rolling eyes they are loving every minute of it.
Vacations are truly an opportunity for you to change the dialogue with your kids, and maybe even get a reset. If your brow is furrowed 95% of the time at home because you are collapsing under the weight of work, school, finances, hormones, etc., etc., then do not carry that crap with you on vacation.
Before you head out the door give yourself a firm reminder that you get a break too, and that means you can move from director of the family to participant. You’d be surprised how that small pivot in your role can change the discourse with your teens not just on vacation, but when you return home.
Get Away From Them
Seriously woman, you are not invincible. Teens can be especially challenging because at times it can be almost impossible to predict their actions. I am telling you right now that 24/7 interaction with them can be dangerous for your mental health. Make sure you take time for yourself.
If you’re at a resort find adult only spaces to decompress. While the teens are sleeping away half their day, get up and go for a walk alone. There is a fun freedom that comes with traveling with teens for both parties. They can be left alone, and so can you. Enjoy Mama, you’ve earned it.
Thinking about dream destinations after reading these tips for travel with teens? Check out my post about Tahiti for Families and How the Disney Dream Ruined Me for Other Cruise Ships.