My husband and I have always been adventure travelers, and when our children came along we had the choice: work our vacations around them, or introduce them to the escapes we had grown accustomed to creating. We chose the latter.
When they were babies, this was in many ways easier. They did not know there were choices of sparkling theme parks with thrill rides and cotton candy. They did not know there were hotels where you could spend all day sitting by the pool or lounging in a tube in the lazy river. They did not know that they could actually have some input into PLANNING our vacations.
Flash forward a decade. Our children are now 15 and 16 and the secret is out. They know all of the places that their friends go on vacation. They see Facebook postings and Instagram photos littered with pictures of their friends lying lazily on a beach. They receive Snapchats from the flashiest new amusement park rides and they have grown and added their own voices to the cacophony of our vacation preparation.
Even though they’re part of our planning now, they continue to request what they have grown up loving: hiking, biking, white water rafting at many of the national parks in the US and Canada. They ask things like: “What level are the rapids?”, “Is there a place to zip line?”, and “How many miles will we hike?” We have built in our teenagers a love for many of the activities we love and they have opened our eyes to new experiences that we previously didn’t have the nerve to try on our own.
Travel with teens is not always easy, but it can be an amazing experience. For those of you about to take the plunge, there are definitely a few tips I can share.
- Allow teens to take part in the planning – Teens who help to set the itinerary will be much more likely to excitedly take part in what is planned. My children like to research the areas we are vacationing for activities we have not done before and are excited to expose the whole family to “their” activity.
- Establish expectations up front – Teens have their own schedules – from wake up times to meal times to social vs. solitary periods – so it is important to set a clear understanding of what vacation activities are mandatory and which are optional so everyone is on the same page.
- Reach agreement on the involvement of electronics– If your child is face down into the latest hot gaming app or texting friends, establish a time and a place for these activities so they don’t miss either the scenery or the family time aspects of your vacation.
- Enjoy your time together– Soon your teens will have their own lives, jobs, and college term papers which will preclude them from being able to travel with you. Use this time to make memories that you will all cherish for a lifetime!
J&J parents from all around our company are sharing their travel tips and experiences with you. You can read about the joy of traveling with kids, tips for going camping with kids, and tips for planning a fun family vacation.
Andrea is the Organizational Change Leader for Janssen Research and Development, a Johnson and Johnson Company. Outside of J&J, Andrea is a triathlete and recreational kickboxer. She lives in Randolph, NJ with her husband and teenage son and daughter,