Tips for Traveling With Older Children

by Royal City Travel Guelph -

Parents may see a vacation as a time to bond and strengthen their relationship with their adolescent or teen. Yet for some parents it would be easier to travel with a drunk grizzly bear than with a moody teenager. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth and fulfilling trip for everyone involved.

Get them involved! Incorporate your teen in the planning process and allow them to pick out some of the activities and locations. While you’re there, let them pick where you eat a couple nights. Give them responsibility - they can be the group tour guide or photographer.

However, don’t let your teen run the show. It may seem easier to cave into their whiny whims but there comes a time to put your foot down and establish some authority - for the sake of the trip. They will be more likely to remember they saw Niagara Falls than that they were forced to go in the first place.

Go somewhere where everyone in the family will be engaged, and be flexible. You may want to explore the Charles Dickens Museum in London, but compromise with a trade off to visit punk rock & fashion mecca Camden Town later in the day.

If you can afford to, consider having your teen invite a friend along. The companionship will relieve some of the family pressure and the friend’s presence might act as a buffer for bad behavior.

Give them space! If possible, book them a separate room adjacent to yours. In any case, give them mental space via down time on the trip. Don’t book up every minute with activities. “Schedule” some time to relax, when the kids can wander, go to a park, or shop at a mall. Hotels with swimming pools are great for this.

And if you’re comfortable, give them freedom to explore. Especially for older teens, allow them to go off and check out some nearby places on their own. Have them use a buddy system, enforce a curfew, and give them a hotel business card with phone and room numbers.

Set a budget for their trip spending allowance and stick to it.

Don’t ban gadgets cold turkey. You may want to use this trip to relax and unplug but don’t cut your teen off completely. Set some parameters, like no texting or electronics during meal times.

Let them sleep in. Most adults want to get up and go, to make the most out of their trip. Teenagers are more inclined to sleep late - and that’s okay. Give them an extra hour or two for a couple of mornings and you are almost guaranteed a better mood during the day. And it gives you a couple hours in the morning to yourself or with your partner.

And most importantly, pick your battles. Your teen may camp out on a bench instead of exploring the museum, or refuse to order at a restaurant they didn’t pick. Let it go. By feeding into it you’re rewarding it with attention and creating more problems.

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