Traveling with Teens: Tips and Hints
Tips for traveling (and enjoying traveling) with a teen.
Traveling with Teens: Go with the flow.
Teen wake up on the wrong side of the bed and in the mood for arguing? Teen telling you that they don’t care one iota about traveling?
Ignore them. You know this isn’t true and it will pass. Do NOT engage in an argument. Just acknowlege their feelings and tell them ” if they can’t be nice then they need to be quiet”. Everyone is entitled to their feelings, but no one is entitled to ruin things for anyone else.
Why do teens flip flop so dramatically and so frequently anyway? One moment they are delightful and calm and the next moment they are miserable and snarly.
“These studies help explain why teens behave with such vexing inconsistency: beguiling at breakfast, disgusting at dinner; masterful on Monday, sleepwalking on Saturday. Along with lacking experience generally, they’re still learning to use their brain’s new networks. Stress, fatigue, or challenges can cause a misfire. Abigail Baird, a Vassar psychologist who studies teens, calls this neural gawkiness—an equivalent to the physical awkwardness teens sometimes display while mastering their growing bodies.”
Traveling with Teens: Make it interesting.
“What??” you say… Your teen hasn’t admitted to being interested in anything that interests you in…years?
That is where my guide books come in! They are specifically designed for kids of all ages. Enjoy a preview of the Adventures in Austin book here and see what all the fuss is about!
Traveling with Teens: Get them involved.
What is your teen’s hobbies and interests? Take those into account when you plan the trip. Look into aspects of your journey that would hold special interest for a teen. Ask teen if they would like to help plan.
Read books and watch movies on your destination. Get teen talking to find out what they would enjoy seeing! Check out the book and movie lists I’ve already made: Hawaii, New York, London, Paris, and Italy.
Traveling with Teens: Give them space.
They think your interest in painting A is lame (or whatever the new word for lame is at the moment). Fine – again, they can have that feeling. They are probably just wanting to feel grownup and have opinions of their own. So, ask them. Which painting is not lame? Which one do they like?
Stop to look at what interests them even though it might seem like it has nothing to do with anything!! My kids noticed cats in Morocco. Before I knew it we were counting them. We saw 46 cats in just one day. Without the kids I doubt I would have noticed them at all.
Let them know that if it is important the them….it is important to you.
Traveling with Teens: Give them time.
With all the new feelings and hormones and brain development, teens need extra time to ponder and process. Be careful not to paint yourself, or them into a corner, with demands for changes in behavior or attitudes ‘right this second’ no matter how tempting! Unless someone is in danger, give them a few minutes to mull over what you are saying. You are much more likely to get a reasonable reply.
Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendrickson suggests:
“In a world of Google, we get millions of instantaneous responses. But your kid needs some time to process. In the moment, state your case (respectfully) and walk away. They’ll think about it.”
Traveling with Teens: Listen actively.
We all think we are listening because we have hung on their every word and mood and emotion since they arrived as little tiny wrinkled up newbies that cried all night. But do they think we are listening?
Listening is an active process. Remember to make eye contact and put down the phone. Even though you can hear your teen while looking at the phone or watching tv does your teen feel listened to when you are doing that?
Traveling with Teens: No topic off limits.
Interestingly, your teen may want to talk about things that seem out of the blue.
It is not a ‘waste’ if they want to walk through a world class museum or walk down a cobble stone street and talk about ‘the cute boy that sits behind them in math’ or that ‘horrible teacher’. What is on their mind might be the fact that they think their elbows are ‘too short/fat/skinny/long’ instead of history or art or something that has to do with the fantastic country you are visiting. That is ok. It doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying the trip or getting something wonderful out of it.
They’ll remember the feeling of being listened to above all else. Feeling loved and cared for and important are wonderful memories they will take away from the trip. Isn’t that a wonderful souvenir?
Traveling with Teens: Remember to make memories.
Everyone has something to love about traveling. Some people ‘collect’ countries and love a new stamp in the passport. Others want to see every museum on the ‘top museum list’. Some want to try to food/wine/chocolate and some want to shop.
All of those are fun and wonderful things, but the memories you create usually aren’t about them. The stories you’ll tell in the years to come are about the time you all crammed into the only seat on the bus and giggled because you barely fit..or the time you wore boxes on your head.
You’ll re-hash the time you caught the slow train that went through every.single.tiny.town and how you talked and talked. You’ll laugh about giggling while dragging that suitcase up 5 flights of stairs because the lift was out of order…or the time you all pretended to be matadors.
What matters is that you have shared experiences, shared memories, and a shared bond. It is ok for those things to be ‘less cultural’ than you imagine.
Traveling with Teens: Remember you were once a teen.
Do you remember your teen years? Remember how some things were really, really important to you? Your teen feels as strongly as you did. Step into their shoes. Tell them a story from when you were a teen. Help them navigate these difficult years of increasing independence.
Didn’t you hate when the grown ups in your life discounted your feelings? Don’t be that grown up.
Each stage of our life journey has easy spots and difficult spots. Try to enjoy them all as they are fleeting. Time passes so fast. One day the kids will be grown and your trips will be easy and quiet. The floors will be clean and the laundry bin will be empty. Enjoy the ups and downs now.
The Educational Tourist can help plan the family adventure of a lifetime!
Happy and Memorable Travels,
Natalie, The Educational Tourist