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Family vacations are a way to reconnect with your spouse and children. Taking a break from the daily demands of work, school, and chores gives families an opportunity to spend quality time together. However, as your children get older you may notice that the togetherness you once took for granted when they were younger is slowly slipping away.
Any time spent with your teen is most likely spent with their heads in a phone or their hands holding a remote control. A family vacation at this stage in their teen lives requires a lot more thoughtful planning and patience. Think about these tips the next time you are sitting around the kitchen table planning your next “family vacation”.
1. KNOW YOUR BUDGET
Have an idea of what you are willing to spend. Take in consideration the time of your travel. Will you be traveling during off peak or the peak of the traveling season? Think about how you will be traveling. Will you need to consider airfare for the entire family or is a road trip in your future? Don’t forget spending money during the trip.
Especially with teens, a budget can spiral out of control leaving you feeling depressed once you return home. Have an idea of what your daily budget should look like. Do not hesitate to give your teens a daily budget. This will cut down on overspending at the souvenir shop or 4 ice cream sundaes in one day.
2. INCLUDE YOUR TEEN
Do not leave your teen out of the planning process. Pick a time when the family is all together to discuss what they think would be a great vacation. Ask for your teen’s input and see what excites them. By letting them be a part of the decision making they will feel involved and may even start to feel excited about the upcoming trip.
As parents, we plan vacations around our work schedules and what times are best for us. Don’t forget about your children’s schedules as well. You are not going to have a very cooperative teen if they are missing out on something that is important to them. If your teen is an avid baseball or softball player, try not to plan vacations around times they could potentially miss tournaments or semi-final games.
3. INVITE OTHERS
How about a bigger family vacation? Traveling with other family members or friends, or co-vacationing with children around the same age can be beneficial to both you and your teens. Parents can enjoy moments of adult-only time and teens can feel a little more independent while exploring with cousins or friends their own age.
Another pro of traveling with extended family or friends is that there will always be enough people to break into smaller groups in case separate interests want to be pursued. If traveling with another family is not an option, consider allowing your teen to bring a best friend along.
4. BE FLEXIBLE
Try not to over-plan your vacation. Allow some spontaneity and flexibility to your plans. There will be fewer opportunities for something to go wrong for you to stress about. Don’t fret if your teens choose to spend their time at the pool instead of wanting to go to a museum. Be willing to compromise so that everyone can enjoy their time away from home. Allow some time for sleeping in, as your teen will appreciate that. Take that opportunity to go to breakfast with your spouse, plan a spa morning, or visit that museum your kids had no interest in visiting.
Unfortunately, no matter how accommodating you are, some teens have a way of being moody and antisocial around their parents and younger siblings. Remember to focus on the time being spent as a family and less time focusing on what is not going right. You can be guaranteed the stories that will be told year after year will lead to laughs about that memorable family vacation.