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Tips for Traveling with Teens

Updated on October 31, 2012

Many parents feel trepidation at the thought of trying to incorporate teens into their family vacation. That's because teens are at that funny stage where they still want to be involved in everything that the family is doing but are simultaneously pulling away from the family. Like with the rest of daily life with teens, it takes a lot of patience to balance these two conflicting needs. But it can be done, and it can be done in such a way that your family vacation can be terrifically fun and wonderfully memorable.

Here are some tips for making travel with teens easier:

  1. Let them get involved in the planning. This means actually involved, not superficially involved. There are many ways to do this, so you'll have to find what works for your family. Some trust their teens enough to let them plan one whole day of the trip ... selecting in advance the sights to see, restaurants to eat at and so on. Other families simply consult the teen with "either/or" choices ("we're either staying at this lodge or staying at this hotel; what do you think?") This makes the teenager feel like he/she really is an important part of the trip.
  2. Choose activities that will allow your teenager to enjoy both their child side and their adult side. For example, head to a theme park where they can have fun on the rides with the younger siblings. But then let one parent stay with the young ones while they go to bed early while the other takes the teen out to see some night activity. Pandering to both sides of your teen's needs will help greatly in maintaining that balance.
  3. Leave family issues at home. A bored teen on vacation will pass by a tattoo shop and mention that she's thinking about getting one. It's intended to rile you up to liven up the day. Leave those kinds of issues at home; they don't need to be taken care of during the vacation.
  4. Pick your power battles. Here are three scenarios. Number one: the family goes to a museum and your teen sits on a bench the entire time, ignoring everyone and listening to her Walkman. Number two: your teen puts up a fight about the chosen restaurant and refuses to order food. Number three: your teen refuses to leave an attraction because she's not done seeing things yet. Do you fight about all of these things? No, you probably don't fight about any of them (although that depends on your family structure). Be glad that your teen is at the museum; she's probably absorbing more than you think. Don't worry if she doesn't order food; she's not going to starve. And if she's refusing to leave somewhere; assess the risk of the situation and decide if this calls for an argument. You can be really careful in picking your battles with your teen in order to make the trip go more smoothly for everyone.
  5. Don't let your teen control what happens with the family vacation. Yes, give her some say in the planning. Yes, include her in activities. Yes, make sure that you're not caving in to ridiculous power battles. But when the time is right to set down your foot and say, "I'm the parent, this is what we're doing", do so. Your teen really is more likely to remember the sight of the Grand Canyon than the fact that you told her she didn't have a choice in whether or not to go.


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  • profile image

    Duromax Generator 6 years ago

    I really like that you have here all kind of sites that can help people plan their trips better when having a teen around

  • Better Yourself profile image

    Better Yourself 7 years ago from North Carolina

    This is a great hub. It can be challenging traveling with teenagers but I always treasure it.Before you know it they'll be leaving the nest, so it is always wonderful to have all these wonderful times with them.

  • LeilaExcite profile image

    LeilaExcite 7 years ago

    I really love this hub, sometimes taking my teenage daughter to the local mall can be a tiring experience and overseas travel staggers my mind....thanks for the tips!

  • profile image

    marky4232 9 years ago

    This is a NICE HUB, I really like that you have here all kind of sites that can help people plan their trips better when having a teen around. I found a very good one and want to share it with you, it has great views, great locations and excellent information about hotels and activities for all ages, including teens. Keep with your great job!!!

  • In The Doghouse profile image

    In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California

    Some of our best times with our teens have been spent on family vacations. I think that done right, this is an area of bonding and memories that will last a life time. Thank you for your suggestions, on how to do it right.