Trip for Traveling with Teens

Living with teenagers is challenging enough, but traveling with teenagers can be exasperating – or exhilarating with some pre-trip planning and ground rules. Here are a few tips for a fulfilling vacation with easily bored young adults.

Rent a video on your destination from the library or buy a travel DVD from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Teenagers are more likely to watch a DVD than read a guidebook before the trip. Ask each family member what is the one thing they want to do for sure on the trip. This allows everyone to have a say and get involved in the planning.

Stay city center so it’s easy to get around. Narrow the choices to two or three within your budget then vote on which hotel to book. If you have a big group, look into renting an apartment for the week where you can cook some of the meals in your room. Suite hotels are a good in-between option as they usually have a refrigerator and microwave. Let each person take turns to be in charge of making breakfast or a snack after sightseeing.

Take a city tour the first day to get a good overview of everything. This helps the group decide what to go back and see more of and the narration gives some insightful history and facts about the city. Double-decker buses or the amphibious “duck tours” are our favorites on nice days as they are open air which is great for picture taking.

Say no to cell phone use in restaurants. Enjoy the meal together without distractions and use the time discuss what each person liked the most about the days activities.  Look at some of the photos taken that day while waiting for dinner. Discuss the plan for the rest of the day or week.

Set up a Picasa or Shutterfly web album that everyone can use to upload their camera or phone pictures. Then you will have one overall album from the trip to share with friends and family.

Be flexible with your plans. As with any travel, things change once you embark on a trip, with unexpected delays or closures of stores, museums, and landmarks. Be open minded to shifting gears and adjusting plans along the way.

Give an allowance for spending on souvenirs and gifts so your teens aren’t asking you for money along the way. They will learn to budget their cash.

Feed them breakfast (bagels, cream cheese and fruit or oatmeal) and bring snacks in your day bag (nuts, peanut butter bars, crackers). Hungry teenagers make for cranky teenagers. Limit the candy and soda. Vitamin Water or Gatoraide can be picked up along the way at a Walgreens or CVS pharmacy.

Here is a photo journal of our trip to Chicago in the summer of 2011. We ate, laughed, walked and walked, opened our minds to art and culture, and bonded. A successful trip in my book!

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