The worst vacation is the one that nobody wants to be on. When any group decides to travel together, they should have come to some type of consensus about where and what they would like to do beforehand. Of course, this is also true with a family. Unless your family is super easy to please, you may not want to try planning without any input from them, especially when it comes to the teen set.
Imagine, if you will, how horrendous your family vacation could be if you do not have the buy in of your “mostly wonderful” teenager! There will be so much to look forward to…the eye rolls, the mood swings, and of course, the refusal to look up from their phone and actually engage with you and the rest of the family. You can expect all of that, and more, if you try to make your vacation happen without truly considering their interests. To follow are a few tips for getting your teenager involved in planning your next family vacation.
Ask them where they would like to go: While asking does not mean that it will be a definitive decision, it does encourage them to share their thoughts. It also makes them feel like you respect their opinion. When it comes to teenagers who are trying to transition into adulthood, they love to feel that they have a voice. This is a perfect opportunity for you to hear them out.
Try something new together: Teenagers often tire of hearing what “you”, as an adult and parent, have done in your life. Unless it’s something that they consider totally awesome, many don’t want to hear too much nostalgia. So, instead of doing the same old thing, explore a new frontier. Get out of your own comfort zone and communicate this to your teenager. Take time on the vacation to learn something that none of you know or do something that none of you have ever done. The discovery and excitement of an adventure can usually appease a fickle teen.
Have your teenager plan some of the activities: They may choose things that they love doing in the process. This will ensure they will actually partake in the activities. This is also a chance for your teenager to shine, which he or she will love! Teenagers like feeling like they are experts at something in their young age. If they can get a parent to venture into their interest “territory”, this could boost their self-esteem a bit, and also encourage more interaction. Plus, when you participate, as the parent, you show your child that it’s good to consider and respect other people’s experience and expertise.
Have your teen plan: Engaging your teenager in the planning process will not only serve to help your family create a more balanced vacation that takes everyone’s interests into consideration, but it will also open up the lines of communication during the process. Remember not to just shoot their ideas down or else they might retreat and not participate. Be tactful, empathetic, and open minded. If this vacation goes well, your teen will want to continue to work with you for many vacations to come. Of course, that means they actually want to be with you all. That’s a big win for the whole family, right?!