Vacationing with Teens
Tips for planning a trip that will stop kids' grumbling and get them geeked about spending family time away
Is your sweet child who used to look forward to going on trips with you now moping at the idea of being whisked away on a family vacation? If so, you don't have give up on the idea of summer family vacation, but you do have to adapt.
"It's really important to me that my teenage son still come with us for a trip each summer," says Leanne Rimswell of Troy. "But I don't want to drag him along. I want him to want to come."
Get everyone's input
Your best bet is to find places where the entire family can have fun and where your teen can explore a bit without having to stay glued to mom and dad. Cruises, family-friendly beaches, and areas close to theme parks are usually safe bets.
When planning, it's important to get your teen's input. This doesn't mean you have to abide by his every whim, but that you've asked for his opinion. Nicole Hockin, travel expert for Hotels.com, explains, "It certainly helps to get apathetic teens to take a vested interest in their fun."
Brenda Hester went one step further. "When my daughter started grumbling about going away, I knew I had to start thinking of things to do that would appeal to her, too," says Hester, of Wixom. "I decided to make her the researcher who brings us suggestions the whole family votes on. It really worked."
Families who plan together tend to have fun together. If interests of all family members are taken into account, chances are that you will all have a fabulous time.
Certain types of vacations cater more to teens than others. Hockin suggests cruises because there are so many programs geared toward the teen crowd. There are teen night clubs, teen movie nights and other special activities just for them. She also adds that all-inclusive resorts have the same types of teen activities and socials events. Teens also love vacations filled with exploration and adventures where they can go off a bit on their own.
This is normal and you should allow your teen more freedom than you would a younger child. However, Dr. Laura Grashow, a national psychologist who specializes in family therapy, suggests that parents use caution while on vacation with teens.
"Parents need to pay attention to what their teens are doing. Research shows that youth who engage in high risk behavior at home are even more likely to engage in high risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex or alcohol and drug use, while on vacation."
Use your best judgment when making decisions about letting your teen go solo or with peers. "If you have teens who are basically responsible and trustworthy, you can probably expect more of the same on vacation," adds Grashow.
You might also consider allowing your teen to bring a close friend along. This is particularly a good idea if your other children are much younger. Think about easing up just a bit on your regular rules as well, such as bedtime hour and junk food intake. It is vacation, after all. Everyone should live a little!