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How to Travel With Your Teen and Stay Sane

Make sure everyone in your family enjoys the vacation – yes, even your teenager – with our tips.


You’ve booked the plane tickets and made hotel reservations, and you’re ready to head off with the family to enjoy a relaxing vacation. What could possibly go wrong? Well, that can be hard to predict when you are traveling with teenagers. From the silent treatment to a smartphone addiction, we’ve come up with a few tips on how to make the trip enjoyable – for you and for them – so you can spend less time bickering and more time making memories.

Tip: Before you depart for your family vacation, make sure to pack the essentials your son or daughter will need – and might forget otherwise. For your daughter, make sure to pack some extra Always Radiant pads and Tampax Pearl tampons so she can have peace of mind throughout the trip. For your son, it doesn’t hurt to toss a Gillette razor and some Old Spice deodorant into the suitcase, just in case.

When They’re Glued to Their Smartphones
Chances are your teen has a smartphone and uses it to post, scroll and tweet 24/7. This is usually tolerable at home in between homework and family time, but on vacation the phone usage can feel incessant.

First, remember that this isn’t always a bad thing – they’re using their phone to stay in touch with friends and classmates, and to document the trip. The problem comes when their screen time starts interfering with family plans. Set a daily limit, whether through data or time, and implement a “no phones” rule at certain times, like at dinner. But make sure you keep your screen time to a minimum, too – if you don’t follow the rules, why should they?

When They Don’t Like the Itinerary
You’ve made a huge effort to organize activities you think your teen will enjoy, so when they don’t, it’s easy to feel frustrated. Instead of planning the itinerary alone, ask your son or daughter what they’d like to do, and make sure to include a mix of activities to suit everyone (especially if younger kids are joining in as well). Be willing to make a few sacrifices, too. If your teenage son wants to go to a sporting event, set an example and join in yourself. But remember, it’s not imperative that everybody does everything – scheduling plenty of time for personal pursuits is just as important. And don’t forget to pack plenty of entertainment for your trip before you leave (board games, tablets and magazines) in case of a rainy day.

When They’re in a Bad Mood
First rule? Don’t bite back. It’s easy for arguments to escalate quickly, particularly if you’re tired from traveling. And once a fight has started, it’s hard to control. A smart idea is to talk through your travel plans ahead of the trip to avoid disagreements later on. Make it clear to your teen that the trip is supposed to be enjoyable for everybody, and make sure they know how important it is that everyone gets along and thinks about each other as well as themselves. If they’re arguing about something specific, take it seriously and don’t laugh or ignore it. Calmly talk through any issues and state your advice for resolving the dispute.

When They’re Not Joining In
Teenagers and their internal clocks can be a nightmare. If it feels like your daughter or son is on a completely different continent with late nights and even later mornings, it can put a damper on the family’s daily plans. First, figure out why you’re on such different schedules: Are they reluctant to join the group or tired from staying out late? Is there any way to compromise – could you let them sleep in as long as they participate in a family activity in the afternoon? If they’re reluctant to join in family activities in general, don’t make them take part in everything – it’s easy for trips to become intense, and forcing them will only work against you. If they’re not enjoying something specific (the local cuisine is a common bone of contention when traveling to exotic places, for example), think of things that are more likely to suit everybody, such as food courts where the dining options are plentiful.

Have you traveled with teens? What are your best tips for enjoying the trip? Share with us in the comments section below.

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