If you are the parent of a teen, you know the years from 13-20 can be an angsty time where iPods seem more important than family dinners. But, when it comes to vacations, what teen wouldn’t want a break from the school cafeteria and hours of homework? Especially on the beach (and on their parents dime).
Planning on taking some time off with your teen or tween? Here are some tips to keep everyone satisfied and your vacation drama-free.
Compromise is key. While you’re paying for the vacation, you have to remember it’s your teen’s break from the grind, too. Choose your battles wisely, suggests HomeAway.com. Being flexible with your teen helps you avoid petty arguments like whether or not they have to wake up at the crack of dawn for a “family breakfast.”
Let them sleep in. Really. Teens love sleep. Maybe a little too much. But a vacation is a great time for them to catch up on their Z’s. Use the time that they’re still in bed to do things that are on your list, like visiting the spa or doing a little souvenir shopping.
Set them free. Independence is a teen’s middle name. Cheryl-Anne Millsap of The Spokesman Review recommends that you give your teen freedom to wander and explore. This will only help them further develop their traveler skills for the future. And, as you know, teens value their alone time and need their space. If it’s in the budget, look into getting them a separate (but nearby) room. It’s a good way to maintain the peace for the whole family. Jeanette Lowry, Consultant for Entertainment and Guest Activities at Royal Caribbean, also suggests having a communication plan in place so teens know when to meet up for dedicated family time.
Choose your trip wisely. Genevieve Brown of Independent Traveler recommends that you think outside the box a bit when choosing your next vacation destination. Visiting the same national landmarks gets a bit old. And let’s be honest, you’re probably a little over it, too. Why not take a cruise? Today’s ships are packed to the brim with activities for all age groups.
Royal Caribbean ships in particular offer dedicated teen-only spaces for daytime relaxing, as well teen-only sports events and nightclubs. Teens can even gather for dinner together in the Windjammer Café on select nights or participate in DJ lessons where they can collaborate with experts from Scratch DJ Academy. To allow your teen an off-board adventure with his or her own age group, book the Teen Adventure Pack shore excursion, which includes snorkeling on CocoCay in The Bahamas and a visit to one of the island’s largest aqua parks.
Simon Cohen, who traveled with his kids on board Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, found the shore excursions to be opportunities to learn fascinating facts about the host country from professional and knowledgeable tour guides.
Bring a friend. If it isn’t too cost-prohibitive and the friend’s parents agree, have your teen bring a buddy along. It’s almost like having a babysitter that’s the same age as your kid, says Beth Harpaz of NBCNews.com. Doing so may even mean there’s a little more downtime for you and your partner. It’s a win-win.
Whatever the situation, take a cue from your teen and remember to “chill out.” That’s exactly what vacations are for, right?