Teens have the uncanny ability to destroy the good-mood of a vacation with one loud groan and an eye roll. Vacations are expensive and parents don’t want to spend money on what they think will be a great trip to have it quickly turn into teenage torture. However, with a little planning and thinking like a teen, you will be able to plan a terrific trip with your teen that the whole family will enjoy.
Image Credit: Curt Gibbs
Teens aren’t little kids but they aren’t quite grown either. What was fun for your child just a few short years ago will now be met with a grunt and a snort of disgust because you forgot the cardinal rule of dealing with a teen — they don’t want to be treated like a little kid, but they aren’t a grown up either. If you are trying to keep a teen happy on a vacation, you should look for activities that are fun and are interesting to your teen. If you have a mixed-age group, you will have to look for activities that everyone will find interesting or, at the very least, tolerable.
Don’t overdo the togetherness. Teens need alone time, even if they aren’t totally alone. One sure way to put your teen into grumpy mode is to force them to be with you twenty-four seven. Even if you allow to simply put their ear buds in and escape into their music, it will give them enough alone time to recover from all the togetherness. While it’s generally not safe for teens to be one their own in a strange location, giving your teen some space can help keep them in a good mood. If you are traveling as a family, sometimes if one adult takes the teen out while the other stays with smaller children, it will give the teen a little time away to recover and keep them happier than if they were stuck with the family all the time.
Let them help plan the trip. Teens like to be asked their opinion and asking them to help plan the trip’s activities will not only allow you to gauge their interest in potential activities but it will also help to get them to buy in to the plans. It’s hard to complain about something when you were asked your opinion about it. Teens enjoy helping in a meaningful way so if you ask them to help make plans, they will have a vested interest in the trip. Sometimes by giving them choices in activities, food, or other decisions that need to be made, you can make your teen feel as if they have some control over what is happening around them which will help ward off some of the opportunity for teen angst.
Make them responsible for something. While making your teen responsible for something, do not make them responsible for younger siblings. Nothing will cause a teen to balk faster than being asked to spend their vacation as a babysitter, unless your teen likes watching younger kids. You can put them in charge of anything they are capable of handling, from the vacation budget to navigating from place to place. Being responsible for something meaningful makes your teen feel as if they are making a contribution to the trip in a more adult manner. Only you will know what your teen is able to handle and what you are comfortable handing off to them. If your teen enjoys a hobby that can be done on vacation, such as photography, you can make them responsible for taking photos of the trip. Once you hand off a responsibility, don’t micromanage it. Teens need to feel they are trusted so if you give them a job, while you need to check on them to be sure it is getting done, you need to allow them to make it their own.
Listen. Vacation is supposed to be a time to get away and relax together. Take advantage of this time and really talk and listen to your teen. Teens want to be heard, but too often they feel they are dismissed without really expressing themselves fully. If your teen doesn’t feel like you are listening to them, a really good way to get your attention, at least in their minds, is to start acting difficult. By keeping the lines of communication open, you will be able to check in with your teen to see where they are attitude-wise as well as be attentive to their needs. Whereas a small child will cry when their needs aren’t being met, teens get moody and grumpy when their needs aren’t being met. Listening to your teen and using that information to help ward off any potential problems can do wonders at saving your vacation from a grumpy teen.
Traveling with your teen can be an awesome experience or a disaster depending on how you handle the details. While no one wants to spend their vacation catering to their teen, remember that no one can upset a trip faster than an unhappy teenager. By listening to them and being aware of their needs, you will be able to keep your teen happy and have a relaxing, terrific vacation with them.
This article was written by Sara Wells and used by permission. Sara Wells is a tech writer who keeps up with the latest gadget news and writes on behalf of companies such as Protectyourbubble.com iPhone 5s insurance brand.