OK, so you've waited, and now it's finally here - the family vacation. The plane ride was OK, your hotel is nice, and dinner is in a few hours. Your 15-year-old has been texting nonstop, and the college student doesn't want to go out because of a season premiere on TV tonight.
You spent all your time, energy and money on this family vacation, and your teenagers don't seem to be enthused about spending time with the family. Still, you can't force happiness. How do you have a nice family trip with tech-trending teenagers? How do you move away from the souvenirs and focus on the fun activities and photo opportunities? Read on to rejuvenate your next vacation and involve your children too.
1. Plan it all together
If you throw together your own surprise trip and drag the family along, there will likely be complaints. Have your children chime in on spots they'd like to visit and things they would like to do. When our family was planning our Hawaii vacation, each child got to suggest certain ideas for what we would do. It made the trip more personal and more enjoyable when we each chose a favorite thing to do.
2. L et teenagers have their time
Long plane or car rides can become boring and lonesome. While enroute to vacation spots and attractions, let you teenager have his or her gaming and texting time. However, let your children know that once the activity begins it is respectful to put the phones away and join the family.
3. Avoid down time
This rule applies to those traveling in foreign places. If you are at your family cabin for the weekend, down time is wonderful. If you are in your Paris hotel room too often, attitudes will turn sour and your kids will begin to complain. Even worse, they may become accustomed to the room and not want to leave. Although vacations are meant to be relaxing and fun, encourage involvement by visiting places other than the hotel.
4. Assign family roles
Maybe one of your children enjoys video taping or taking pictures. Give that child some power and let her take most of the pictures for the trip. Let another one be in charge of explaining each location and the history behind the museums you visit. At the end of each day, make sure each person is able to say his or her favorite (and least favorite) part of the day. That way, everyone has a hand in the family plans and activities.
5. Split up
If your teenagers are old enough and mature enough, feel free to split up for a few hours if the area is familiar and you can stay in contact through cell phones. In amusement parks and shopping malls it is OK to separate then meet up at an agreed upon location later. Your teenagers will love the freedom of traveling together and doing what they want to do. This will also solve conflicting opinions about what each person wants to do for the day.
We hope your next vacation is a true success, and not just because of these tips. It doesn't take a pile of money to have a good time, so make sure everyone is ready and excited for the trip ahead. Plan wisely, play daily, and enjoy this time that you have to learn a little more and relax a lot. Happy travels!