So you want to take a family vacation — and of course want everyone to have fun. But what if one member of your family is a little difficult? Sure they can be moody, but teenagers get a bad rap — more often than not, they're up for having a good time with the family (provided their friends aren't around, of course). Follow our 10 tips for traveling with your teenager and you'll be well on your way to having a happy and peaceful family getaway.
Ask for 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 cruise. If your teen wants an adventure vacation but you're concerned about costs, consider a national park. 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.
Find a great 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.
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. Remember that keeping the peace will make your vacation that much more enjoyable.
When fights occur and meltdowns happen (which they will), try and move on as quickly as possible. Hopefully the less you dwell, the less your teen will too.
Bring a friend
Traveling with another family has its pros and cons — on the 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 along a friend. 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.
Let your teen choose an activity
Even if the only thing your teen wants to do is ride bumper cars, let him do it. This actually happened to my parents when my brothers were teenagers and we were on a family trip to London. After days of visiting museums and churches, the only thing they wanted to do was hang out at a carnival a few streets from the hotel. And you know what? We still reminisce about the night on the bumper cars way more often than we talk about any of the art we saw.
Set a budget
On vacation, it's easy to blow your budget by buying all sorts of mementos and knickknacks to keep the kids happy. But if you give your teen a budget and even let her keep any leftover money, she'll be less likely to spend all your money on souvenirs you'll find under their bed a week after you get home.
Give your teen space
If possible, try and 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.
Let them sleep
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. 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.