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Mastering the Art of Better Listening

Where to Go for Great Vacations

The Sierra Clubs Family Outdoor Guide

National Parks of America



by Tania K. Cowling


The 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 Boring†You 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.



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