The generation gap becomes a yawning chasm during an overseas vacation unless you maintain the decrepit rope bridge that connects your plan and their teenage expectations. Teenagers look forward to hanging out at the mall with their friends and an overseas vacation shackled to their parents is not a high note in their summer plans. You invested thousands of dollars on the vacation; ensure everyone gets value for money. We apply five secret strategies to our vacations. As a result, our teenagers enjoy the experiences and the travel is fun for everyone.
Secret One: Itinerary Compromise
Your kids are your travel companions; ensure they help plan the itinerary. Brainstorm the route together, list the major sights and attractions, and discuss everyone’s itinerary preferences. Cram your trip with museum visits and cultural events if you enjoy the company of apathetic teenagers. Add an afternoon riding the luge or an evening rock concert and you are instantly hip.
Secret Two: Let them decide what to Pack
Arguing over what to pack is a direct route to a lousy vacation, and an unhappy teenage travel companion. After several arguments over clothing choices, we discovered the second secret. Everyone has a bag, broad guidelines and instructions to pack anything they need and is prepared to carry. A quick sanity check ensured they packed enough necessities but otherwise we left the choices to them. Our daughter wore $2 slippers everywhere, and both favored jeans despite the heat of summer. Happy with their own choices, we never heard a complaint about heavy bags or sore feet, a first in our travel adventures.
Secret Three: Maintaining Contact with Friends
Three weeks without their friends is cruel and unusual punishment for most teenagers. Find hotels with Internet connections or close to Internet Cafes so the kids can get online to chat or exchange emails. Learning the latest gossip at home is more valuable knowledge to your teenager than the fascinating food preferences of ancient Romans. It is also a time to reflect on their travel, the boring morning at the museum is suddenly a cool experience to see Michelangelo’s David’ when chatting to friends who spent the day watching Sponge Bob.
Secret Four: Entertainment
After a long day sightseeing, you may enjoy writing a journal entry over coffee, watching CNN and reading a book but your teenager is bored. Bring their favorite entertainment with you. A laptop is a multi-purpose recreation tool and we never travel without one. It also serves as a portable darkroom for our family of digital photographers.
If technology is not a travel option, select books that appeal to everyone, old favorites or cannot miss new editions like Harry Potter are best, and find travel versions of your favorite board games. Sharing a bedroom with your teens for three weeks is a challenge for the happiest families, reduce the boredom and you are one-step closer to a successful journey.
Secret Five: Give Teenagers as much freedom as possible.
Teenagers want freedom more than any other commodity in their lives. At home, they go to the mall, the movies or just hang with friends, stretching their boundaries like an eaglet testing its wings before the leap off into the world. Many parents hold their teenagers back in foreign countries; afraid that they will get lost or fall victim to local criminals but the reality is most countries are no more dangerous than your neighborhood is.
Armed with a map, money and a sense of adventure, a parent free afternoon exploring or shopping becomes a vacation highlight. With the kids happy, you can enjoy a romantic meal for two at the quiet little cafe around the corner. Stretch your budget and book two rooms at least once a week; teenagers enjoy the freedom to stay up late watching movies and you can enjoy the romance you came for.