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Travelling with Teens
  • Travelling with Teens

We know that our teenage children can be delightful, exasperating, funny, sullen, adventurous, shy, talkative, slothful and manic – and sometimes that is just in the space of an hour!  All these moods are magnified when it comes to travelling, be it in Australia or overseas, as teens and parents are forced into one another’s company without a ‘get out of jail free’ card, such as time with friends.

Travelling overseas with teenagers tends to be a better experience for a number of reasons, such as the brilliant entertainment systems now available on most flights, menus that let them eat things they like, resorts that have activities that cater for most age groups and the “wow” factor.  So let’s concentrate on surviving travelling in Australia, which is what most of us with teenagers can afford!

When I asked my teenage sons the worst thing about travelling, they didn’t mention the long haul flights to the UK – oh no, their idea of hell is 9 hours in a car on the way to Byron Bay… and that is with the distractions of iPod, Nintendo DS and DVD player in the car.  So I guess my first tip is to book early and take advantage of the cheaper domestic flights now available and hopefully the whole family will arrive as friends and not sworn enemies.

If flying is impractical or out of your budget, then take the time to chat to your teens and find out where they would like to go and what they would like to do when they get there.  It may be our idea of fun to visit cafes and museums, but many teens would rather clean their rooms!  Try to ensure that your destination has the right combination of activities to keep the whole family happy and agree that everyone will have an opportunity to choose an activity or two that they really want to do.

As parents, we need to remember that flexibility is the key to good relationships with our children, both home and away, and talking to them is the first step towards breaking down the sullen wall that can surround our beloved teenaged children.  Teenagers love to be consulted and treated as adults and, within reason, this is a good way to keep them happy.  Involve them in the planning of the family holiday and you are less likely to be faced with the “whatever” attitude.

It isn’t always possible, but taking a friend along for your teenager can make everyone happier.  It also has the benefit of providing a safety net, as two is safer than one in most situations.  Even just having a friend to surf with while you attend to younger children – or read a book, if you’re lucky! – is likely to improve their attitude (and your holiday!) tenfold.

Teens are always looking for signs that you are giving them more responsibility, so let them research your destination online, check the weather and then pack appropriately.  A little gentle parental direction may still be in order, but they can’t blame you for any missing items if they were the ones who packed.

Also charge them with the responsibility of researching different activities, finding out costs and opening hours and then work together on an itinerary that pleases the whole family.  They can also help plan the route, finding appropriate places to stop on the way for rest and food breaks.  They can even find accommodation along the way, if your car trip is going to be a long one. TakeABreak is a site that makes if easy to find all types of accommodation throughout Australia.

If at all possible, book adjoining rooms as this gives everyone in the family the privacy and time out that they need.  If you are sharing a room, a separate key can give them the feeling of independence that they crave, however ensure they understand certain basic rules, such as no strangers in the room and keeping the key safe.

Depending on the ages and stages of your teenagers, you could consider giving them a great deal of independence, but it is always a good idea to make a time for the family to re-group and spend time together, so perhaps set a rule whereby everyone joins up for dinner.  Another safety net is the rule that your calls or texts to their mobile phone will always be answered.  If they do not have their own money, then set a budget for the holiday and once their money is gone, they must take part in the general activities that the rest of the family is enjoying.

One of the best things you can take with you on holidays, for practical as well as entertainment reasons, is a laptop.  It not only allows you to research activities, opening times, restaurants, shops and more, it also allows your teen to maintain email contact with friends, watch DVDs and listen to music in their own time.  Not everyone has access to a laptop, but if you have one, then pack it.  You can also get your kids to take on the downloading and editing of any family photos taken on the trip, so you come home with usable and shareable photos.

Finally, set limits for your teenager when on holiday, just as you do when at home.  The teens who find trouble are often the ones who are waiting for their parents to say “NO’.  Be reasonable and keep calm – show your teenager that a reasoned debate will always win over a screaming match.  And don’t forget one vital fact – most teenagers are great, just not all the time, and before you know it they will grow into the wonderful adults you know they can be.

About the Author
Lisa Monk is a marketing communications writer with a diverse background that includes experience in travel, hotel, finance, public relations and advertising. She has worked with Club Med, the Holiday Inn group and on a number of other travel projects on a freelance basis.  Lisa has travelled throughout Asia Pacific,  North America and England.

Lisa now works with TakeABreak.com.au as editor of the Holiday Inspirations newsletter and other publications.  She lives in Sydney with her husband Andy, and sons Joseph and Nicholas. 

About the author
Find out more about Lisa at http://bit.ly/h_experts

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Posted on Jan 06 2012 at 18:57

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