Christine Elliott

Family Vacation Ideas With Teenagers: 6 Tips for Staying Sane

It’s easy to feel disconnected from your loved ones when everyone is so caught up in their daily routines. Often times it feels like all we do is eat, sleep, work, repeat. Family vacations are the perfect way to rediscover what really matters and make new memories. A successful family retreat is easier said than done when traveling with teenagers. Let’s face it, these complicated adolescences can be unpredictable. Is your teen going to stare at their phone the whole time or act out in protest for having to accompany you on this boring trip? A successful family vacation is totally doable, so long as you take the time to plan a trip that will be fun for everyone. Here are 6 tips for staying sane when traveling with teens:

1) Get Them Involved in The Planning

It’s easy for your teen to “hate on” a trip that they had no part in planning. Before you finalize the itinerary, make sure to consult with them on the activities they want to do. While you might not be able to accommodate everything on their wish-list, it will go a long way to throw in a few of their favorite interests. It will give them something to look forward to and hopefully they will be appreciative of your inclusiveness. This would also be a great opportunity to set expectations for the trip so that no one is disappointed by the realities of what’s to come. This should help you avoid any (major) meltdowns on the road.

2) Pack Smart

Teenagers can be pretty particular about their fashion. Make sure to do your research so you know the appropriate attire for your destination. There is nothing scarier than a teen who feels out of place or improperly dressed for the occasion. Obviously, they won’t be able to pack everything in their closet so make sure to set some boundaries. If you give proper guidance, they should be able to pack the essentials and feel comfortable with their selections.

3) Set Smartphone Boundaries

The point of a family vacation is to spend quality time together but it would be naive to think that no one will be using their smartphones. Try to set some guidelines for the entire family (adults included). For example, no phones at meals is an easy rule to enforce. Smartphones are a big part of a teenager’s life and it allows them to stay connected to their friends and lives back home. Try to encourage them to take photos/videos documenting the trip so they stay present in the moment. It’s important to lead by example so do your best to limit your own usage.

4) Be Willing to Compromise

While you might have your heart set on a certain restaurant or activity, your teen might make it painfully clear they have no interest. While some experiences might be worth the cold shoulder, other activities might not justify the temper tantrum to follow. The bottom line is, pick your battles. Chances are you won’t be able to enjoy said meal/activity if your teen is determined to ruin the experience. If a particular pursuit is important to you, try talking to your teen and letting them know how much it means to you. Hopefully, they will respect your feelings and be on their best behavior. If everyone is willing to make a few compromises, your trip should be a success.

5) Try to Focus on Your Family

It’s easy to get anxious and start to worry about what others are thinking but try to concentrate on yourselves. Your teens might be having a “moment” but try and focus on the problem at hand instead of being overly concerned about any stares you might be getting. We are all guilty of it (and it’s certainly important to be aware of your surroundings) but don’t stress too much about public opinion, especially if you’re also traveling with young children.

6) Make Some “Me” Time

The best way to stay sane is to carve out some time for yourself. Even if that means waking up earlier than the gang, you’ll be able to find time to do something you love. Whether that means going on a run, getting a cup of coffee and watching the sunrise, or simply having a few moments of silence to yourself. This alone time will give you energy and the right state of mind to tackle the day ahead. While “me” time is critical, “couples times” is just as important. Do your best to make some time for romance during your travels.

Teens can be challenging to travel with but you can also have some of the most rewarding experiences with them. Because they are so complex, a shared moment or laugh can make the entire trip worthwhile. If you follow these tips and try to focus on having a great time, your vacation should be “lit,” as the teens say.

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