Sierra Clubs Family Outdoor Guide
Parks of America
TRAVELING WITH ADOLESCENTS
Tania K. Cowling
Roman philosopher Seneca summed up the rewards of traveling with your adolescent when
he said Àthrough travel we learn to know not only our own world but
ourselves in a new relationship.” As families vacation and relax in the sun, take
in some culture, or camp in a national park, their adolescent might
not be as eager for the vacation. As parents, we see this vacation as
bonding. Once kids reach middle and high school, most can¡t bear to
have a meal with their families much less take a two-week trip together.
What¡s a parent to do? Here are a few tips to help you make the most
of your family vacation, so everyone has an enjoyable time:
- Bring Along a Friend†Kids together are more
likely to entertain themselves than an adolescent alone, who may just
sit around complaining about how boring the family is. Actually, there
is the added bonus that peer pressure can work to improve behavior.
So, if it is in your budget, bring a friend!
- That¡s Entertainment†Game Boys and other video games
can also occupy kids, along with a personal tape or CD player with
headphones. Bring decks of cards, a backgammon set, or other games
you can all enjoy that gives you a relaxed evening activity together.
- Down Time†Plan on leaving blocks
of time unscheduled. Consider spending the morning sightseeing and
then going to a park, mall or video arcade in the afternoon. Your
kids will be delighted. Hotels with swimming pools can be a real plus
for a downtime activity that tweens and teens love.
- Freedom to Explore†If you¡re in a safe
place and you trust your child¡s common sense, give her or him a little
freedom to explore. It may only be within the resort grounds or down
the street. Remind kids of the buddy system (sibling, friend or relative)
and set the distance parameters and a curfew. Give kids a hotel business
card with all phone and room numbers marked.
- Cities With Heavy Cultural Emphasis Can Be
and I may enjoy the history and culture of a vacation locale, but
it can be quite boring for tweens and young teens. London is an exception
as there are some wonderful hip places that both parents and adolescents
find interesting. Any vacation spot where there aren¡t other adolescents
will be unpopular. Whether in the states or abroad, do some research
or ask the hotel staff for teen activities in the area.
- Dining At a Five-Star Restaurant Is a Waste
of Time and Money†Tweens and Teens are not interested, unless
they want to become a chef or have a highly developed palate. And
having to wear a tie or dinner jacket just won¡t do! Consider taking
adolescents to one fine restaurant per trip as part of culinary education,
but other than this, take votes for some favorite family chains.
- And Perhaps the Best Bit of Advice†Remember what you were
like as an adolescent and how you wanted to spend your time on vacation.