Planning Vacations Teens Will Love
Where are we going this year? My teens usually start asking about our summer vacation right after Christmas. This is music to my ears because it tells me that they 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. Cruises, family-friendly beaches and areas close to theme parks are usually safe bets.
It's best to include your teen when planning your vacation. This doesn't mean you have to abide by his every whim, but that you've asked for his opinion. Nicole Hockin, 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 the interests of all family members are taken into account, chances are 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 nightclubs, teen movie nights and other special activities just for teens. She also adds that all-inclusive resorts have the same types of teen activities and social events. Teens also love vacations filled with exploration and adventures where they can go off a bit on their own.
"Glamping is a hot trend that teens love. It's roughing it but not really — glamorous camping," Hockin says. "Many resorts give you the option of tents or cabins and often include three meals a day. Options usually include activities such as horseback riding, fishing, hiking and biking."
Many parents say that the beach is also a good option, especially if it has a boardwalk.
Once you arrive at your vacation destination, your teen might ask for time alone. This is normal, and you should allow your teen more freedom than you would a younger child. However, 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," Grashow says. 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. I would also recommend that they stay on premises or at an approved location only," Grashow adds.
Consider allowing your teen to bring a close friend along, especially if your other children are much younger. Ease up just a bit on your regular rules as well, such as bedtime and junk food intake. Your vacation is transient, yet will garner lifetime memories.
Myrna Beth Haskell is a freelance writer specializing in parenting issues and children's development. Her advice column for parents of teens debuted in June 2009.