My teens usually start asking about our summer vacation right after Christmas. This is music to my ears because it tells me that they actually still want to go on vacation with us!
I really knock myself out looking for places that are loaded with activities — biking, water parks, beaches, etc. Teens want to have new adventures and they want to be active. Most don’t want to spend a week visiting museums or antique shopping. Your best bet is to find places where the entire family can have fun and where your teen can explore a bit without having to stay glued to mom and dad.
Have you started the planning yet? Hopefully, you’ve included your teen. This doesn’t mean that you have to abide by his every whim, but that you’ve asked for his opinion. Nicole Hockin, a travel expert for Hotels.com, explains, “I like to encourage families to include everyone in trip planning. It certainly helps to get apathetic teens to take a vested interest in their fun.”
Families who plan together tend to have fun together. If interests of all family members are taken into account, chances are that you will all have a fabulous time.
Don’t have the foggiest idea of where to begin? Certain types of vacations cater more to teens than others. Hockin suggests cruises because there are so many programs geared toward the teen crowd. There are teen night clubs, teen movie nights, and other special activities just for teens.
She also explains that all-inclusive resorts have the same types of teen activities and socials events. Teens also love vacations filled with adventures where they can go off a bit on their own.
“Glamping is a hot trend that teens love,” Hockin says. “It’s roughing it but not really — glamorous camping. Many resorts give you the option of tents or cabins and often include three meals a day.”
Many parents say that the beach is also a very good option — especially if it has a boardwalk!
Once you’ve arrived, your teen might ask for alone time. This is normal and you should allow your teen more freedom than you would a younger child.
However, Dr. Laura Grashow, a psychologist who specializes in adolescents, family therapy, and parental guidance, suggests that parents use caution while on vacation with teens. “Parents need to pay attention to what their teens are doing. Research shows that youth who engage in high-risk behavior at home are even more likely to engage in high risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex or alcohol and drug use, while on vacation.”
Use your best judgment when making decisions about letting your teen go solo or with peers.
“If you have teens who are basically responsible and trustworthy, you can probably expect more of the same on vacation,” said Grashow. “I would also recommend that they stay on premises or at an approved location only.”
You might also consider allowing your teen to bring a close friend along. This is a particularly good idea if your other children are much younger. Think about easing up just a bit on your regular rules as well, such as bedtime hour and junk food intake. Your vacation is transient, yet will garner lifetime memories.
Tips and tales
“The best vacations we take now that the kids are older are cruises. We go with other families so there are more teens. My kids love the variety of activities. We eat our meals together and enjoy the off-shore excursions as a family, but on-board ship time is spent between new friends and family.”
Sharon Foster, Poughkeepsie, NY
“We usually go to Long Beach Island or the Jersey Shore. The beach is a good place for teens. It’s safe at LBI, and they have a lot going on. You can let them have some freedom, and parents can vegetate on the beach. Everyone wins!”
Felicia Sealey, Hyde Park, NY
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Myrna Beth Haskell is a freelance writer specializing in parenting issues and children’s development.