Fehbe is a 17-year-old from Inglewood, Ca. She enjoys playing tennis and shopping. Her favorite subject is English because she loves to write and sees herself working in the journalism field in the future.
Summer vacation, Christmas break, and spring break; there are many opportunities families have to travel with each other. While this may seem to be great family bonding time, these time offs from school can translate to vacation terror for some families. Long and exasperating car rides and long lines at the airport may make parents prefer to stay home while the thought of vacationing with Mom and Dad may make teenagers cringe with embarrassment. However, there are certain ways and destinations that the family can take to make that family vacation both pleasant and (gasp!) enjoyable.
1. Pick a Destination You All Enjoy. This may seem impossible and harder to do than retaking the SATs for a perfect score but it’s really not. The trick is to talk to your teens and figure out what interests them. Then, say what you’re interested in. Chances are, you and you’re teen will have some things in common. Then make a list of possible places you can go to that will satisfy the both of you. For example, say your teenage daughter loves to text..but she also has a passion for fashion. Now, perhaps you aren’t too into the runway trends but you enjoy dressing properly and appreciate good art. In that case, you should consider going to San Francisco or New York, cities where the fashion is great and the art is bountiful.
2. Be Mindful of Ages. You may think a trip to Grandma’s country house to be a grand idea and your 14 year old may agree. However, you’re 17 year old might be less than thrilled. Teenagers have different tastes at different ages and they can change every minute. Don’t be surprised if one year your teen wants to go to Disneyland and the next thinks Disneyland is too childish. That’s why it is important to keep the lines of communication open with your teen to ensure you’re not dragging them to a vacation spot they detest.
3. Explore New Places. It may be simple to reach for the nearest guidebook and pick vacation destinations that everyone has heard of or been to. The problem arises when the same place becomes predictable and boring. Teens love it when they are the first to report on new things and a great idea would be to take them somewhere that not many people have heard of. As the parent, you don’t have to know every detail of the place you’re going to in order to ensure the trip goes smoothly. Sometimes the best trips occur spontaneously and with little planning. Research some lesser known areas of large cities or familiar vacation spots so that you have the security of knowing your bearings but still be excited about exploring new sites. Trust me, if you’re excited, your teen will be also.
4. Remember, teens need their space. Perhaps it is in our adolescent blood but teens always need to have time to themselves. The worst family trips are the ones where the family must stay together 24/7. This is impossible for us to do even though we love you and want to spend time with you. The best option is to allow your teen to go off and explore sights on their own. If you have an older and responsible teen, a curfew and a few set rules should be enough to allow them to have fun but still come back at an appointed time. If your teen is younger, then simply let them wonder around where you can still keep an eye on them but they feel as if they have some independence.
Finally, just relax and have fun. Vacations are supposed to be carefree, not stressful and irritating. You don’t have to have an itinerary for the entire trip, complete with designated attraction stops and meal times. Instead of being concerned about what everyone is doing, be concerned about everyone’s safety.
Simply, pick a destination, pack your bags, and let whatever happens happen. Don’t be a vacation dictator. Remember, having fun and spending time with your family is the point of family vacations. Happy Travels!