Easy Tips for Travelling with Teens
While little ones are often well-catered for, it’s easy to forget your teen’s needs when planning family holidays. These are our top tips for travelling with teens.
We don’t really like to think about it. As parents, there is something exciting and liberating about not having to worry about the little ones anymore when going away. But while travelling with teen children is not as burdensome as travelling with younger ones, it is also not as straight forwards as travelling with other adults. Don’t ignore your teen’s needs. Just because they are older, doesn’t mean they’re going to “fit in” to your adult program. After all, if travelling with younger children requires some thought, then why not the same for teenagers?
Here is how to navigate the differences, smooth the hormonal crises and make a family city break enjoyable for everyone, including the teenager in the room.
1. Understand the overwhelming need to be cool
Think bragging value. While this is not something you might want to encourage and might not even understand, there is no escaping it for teens. It’s a very real issue for them and they will feel the pressure and the teasing from their peers, so it’s worth keeping that in mind. Visiting a “cool” attraction, doing something a little “out there” in terms of activity, allowing them to take a good photo or bring back a good souvenir will help them not only enjoy the trip, but also engage with whatever activity you have planned.
2. If possible, make sure they have company
Teens move in groups and a lonely teen is a fish out of water so, if you can, travel with family or friends that have children of the same age and similar interests. Just like a younger child, you teen will enjoy the trip much more if they have a partner in crime. What is the benefit? You will be able to escape the high adrenaline activities when all you want to do is have a long lunch somewhere nice. But beware… Choose the entourage wisely. If you know they don’t like the other family’s teen or find them annoying, a group holiday will probably make it worse.
3. Ask them and involve them
Remember that what you are into now is not what you were into when you were younger. So ask your teen what they are interested in. Better still, ask them to put their unbeatable googling skills to good use and search for destinations and attractions they would like to visit. This will also allow you to cash in on bargaining chips by making sure they understand the rules of sightseeing: if you visit an attraction of their choice, they will have to visit one of yours – minus the bored-stiff faces.
4. Give them a little space to be independent
At home your teen probably spends a lot of time away from you. They go to school without you and a lot of times go and come back to places without you too. Unless you are best friends and do a lot together, sprinkle family time with a little space, so they can explore an attraction with their friend while you enjoy a coffee across the street or in the reception area.
5. Give them a little privacy
Teens and children are the first to take the sofa bed and sacrifice on privacy when needs must, but remember that, like you, they might not enjoy sharing their room with other people or sleeping on the main thoroughfare of where you are staying. If budget allows, give them a room of their own. It will also double as a space they can hide in when the hormones get the best of them. Hint, hint… this is when serviced apartments with two or three bedrooms are perfect for families.
6. Understand there is no escaping mobile phones
As unhealthy as it can be, a teen’s life revolves around their mobile phones. Understanding they will feel the need to check in regularly will avoid disagreements.
Teens are black belts in manipulating mobile settings to maximise their data allowance. They will know tricks you don’t! So agree with your teen the usage of their phone before going on holiday, especially if you are going abroad and might be charged a premium for roaming data. Make sure you have Wi-Fi where you are staying so they can catch up during downtime and choose places with free Wi-Fi when stopping for food or drinks. That will save you money and curb mobile usage. It will also keep the dreaded FOMO (“fear of missing out”) under control.
7. Understand that if they are happy, they will be snap happy
While the ten thousand photos a day are incredibly annoying to an adult, appreciate that if your teen is snap-happy it means they are impressed with the trip so far and they want to brag about it to anyone who will listen or spend ten seconds viewing it on Snapchat. If it gets too much, tell them. But if it’s not distracting the group activity, pick your fights wisely.
8. Respect the need for sleep and downtime
It’s scientifically proven that the younger you are, the more hours you need to sleep. While teens don’t need afternoon naps like younger children, they still sleep more than adults. So avoid early starts if you can and plan stay-in days in between activity-filled ones to keep the grumpy monster at bay.
There you have it, while there are adult activities your teen can definitely fit in with, they will enjoy the family holiday or city break much more if you allocate some time and attention to the fact they are not yet adults. And who knows? Maybe the holiday will break the ice of teen monosyllabic response and bring you closer together as a family. After all, they will always be your baby, no matter how long their legs have grown.