Planning a summer vacation or a family road trip? There are unique challenges to traveling with young children, but if you have a preteen or teenager, you might be wondering if it’s possible to vacation together without the outbreak of World War III.
At this age, your older kids still want to hang out with you, but they also crave independence and plenty of private time to hang out and explore on their own. So how do you reconcile their safety and commitment on vacation while giving them the freedom and autonomy they desire? And how do you do it while saving money on your vacation? We will see.
Understanding the psychology of tweens and adolescents
The “pre-teen” years, when children are between the ages of 8 and 12, can be a difficult time. It is during this time that hormonal changes begin to cause significant mood swings and emotional sensitivity. Many tweens are painfully embarrassed by their changing bodies, their changing voices (for kids, at least), and even their changing ideas.
Pre-teens often feel trapped in their mid-childhood and teenage years. On the one hand, part of them may aspire to remain a child, while another part aspire to be an “adult” adolescent. Getting drawn back and forth can be a challenge for tweens and parents alike.
Teens are taking these dramatic changes to a whole new level. From age 13 to 18, their brains are literally rebuilt, with new nerve “highways” created as they learn and have new experiences. In adolescence, their brains go through more “construction,” as Psychology Today puts it, than at any time in their lives.
It’s also important to note that in a teenager’s developing brain, the amygdala still dominates. The amygdala is a small almond-shaped part of the brain responsible for strong “gut responses” such as anger, sexual desire, and fear. Once their brain fully matures, which happens around age 20, your child will begin to rely more on their frontal cortex, which controls logic and reasoning.
Frontline reported on a fascinating study conducted by researchers at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. Principal researcher Deborah Yurgelun-Todd and her colleagues studied how adolescents perceive emotions in relation to adults. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they compared the brains of adolescents to that of adults, as they were shown pictures of faces and asked to identify the emotions displayed. Using the MRI machine, the researchers were able to determine which part of the brain was used to answer each respondent’s question. They found that adults used their frontal cortex to correctly identify the emotion of fear on faces. The teens’ incorrect responses ranged from “shocked, angry and surprised”. In addition, the teens mainly used their tonsils to answer the question.
This study helps to clarify why your teenager may show such strong emotional reactions in certain situations. They depend on the part of your brain that is old and not ruled by reason and logic. Especially when they are stressed, it is difficult, if not impossible, for them to respond logically. Take it all and accumulate dramatic hormonal changes and a burning desire to define yourself and find a unique place within family and social groups, and you will understand why traveling with a teenager can be a powder keg.
However, knowledge is power. Now that you know how your preteen or teenage brain works, you can help shape your response to tense conversations or outbursts you’ll likely experience while traveling with your kids.
Travel tips for tweens and teens
Are you still planning to go on a family vacation? Awesome. Traveling with a preteen or teen can be difficult, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. This can be a great time to reconnect with your child and get to know them in a new way before they leave for high school or college.
There are many strategies you can use to make traveling with your tween or teen more fun, relaxed, and enjoyable for everyone.
1. Get them involved early
Tweens and teens desperately want more control over their lives, and that includes being part of the decision-making process. So ask for their advice when you start planning your vacation. Better yet, give them a few options and let them choose where they will go.
Letting your child choose their destination can be incredibly rewarding. They’ll likely be more engaged on the trip, as that’s where they wanted to go after all, and less argumentative along the way. If you have more than one child, let them determine where they want to go as a group. Again, give them three or four options to choose from and help them use their negotiation and compromise skills to reach consensus.
What if your vacation is just a visit to a relative? Let your preteen or teen have a say in what they do when you get there.
2. Talk to them about budgeting.
Vacations can quickly get very expensive if you’re not careful, and most families have to stick to a set vacation budget.
When it comes to planning outings and activities during the holidays, decide how much you can afford to spend on them and tell your teens that amount and why you chose that number. Encourage them to research the activities that interest them and find out how much each one will cost. Then work with them to choose activities that stay within the budget you have allocated for extracurricular activities.
Allowing them to choose the things they want to do gives them the autonomy they desperately need and need, while allowing them to set boundaries and teach them to work within those boundaries to get what they want. want. Talking to them about budgeting is a great way to teach your kids about money.
It can also help focus activities and sightseeing on your tween or teen’s current interests. For example, if your child is very fond of horses, encourage them to find a horseback riding trail or beach walk in the area. If your teenager enjoys cars and skateboarding, encourage them to find an auto museum or car show they’d like to visit, or find the nearest skatepark. Just make sure the route they create still fits your budget.
Be sure to talk with your kids early on about the cost of souvenirs and other vacation purchases, such as new clothes or travel supplies. Encourage them to start saving their vacation allowances, or give them extra chores to do around the house so they can start making their own vacation money to spend on whatever they want. Let her know that you are budgeting for the souvenirs you are going to buy for your children. For example, you can allocate $ 20 per child for souvenirs or other unforeseen purchases. After that, they will have to buy what they want on their own or do without.
3. Let them make their own bags
Many parents oversee the entire “vacation packing” process. With young children this is a must. But now that your kids are older, they can pack their own bags. Talk to them about the weather and what to do when they arrive. Talk to them about what kind of clothes will be right for the trip, or prepare a vacation checklist to help them.
If you are flying, tell them they will be in charge of their own bags. If they keep all of their clothes in a giant suitcase, they’ll be the ones dragging them through the airport, to and from taxis or public transport. Make sure they understand the size and weight restrictions of the airline you are using, or better yet, encourage them to learn to pack lightly and only take a small suitcase on the trip. .
Then take a deep breath and step back. Let them take care of the selection and packaging of the clothes. It can be difficult for parents. (What if they forget their underwear or their toothbrush?) However, it will teach your kids about responsibility and accountability. It will also help them learn to plan ahead and make decisions based on future events.
What if you arrive at your destination and your daughter finds out that she left her favorite outfit at home or if your son forgot his iPad? Well, they’ll learn important lessons about planning, as well as how to be flexible when things don’t go perfectly. They will survive it.
4. Try to devote time to the screen
At home, your teenager’s or teen’s face is probably glued to their cellphone or tablet screen most of the time. And unless you talk about it, it will be the same on your family vacation.
It is not reasonable to ask your preteen or teen to leave their devices at home; after all, how could I do it? However, it is reasonable to set at least some limits on screen time during the holidays. Talk to your kids about using their cell phone or tablet exclusively at specific times of the day, like after breakfast for an hour, or for an hour before bed.
You will also need to give an example here. Do not take your phone out to check e-mail or send pictures unless it is the agreed “screen time”.
Your preteen or teen will want something to occupy their time on the plane or in the car. If you want to keep a screen out of their hands, consider buying them a cool travel toy like a Rubik’s Cube, which is the best-selling puzzle of all time, or a leather travel diary and a nice pen for them to use. ‘they can record their thoughts. and travel experiences.
5. Schedule days off
It’s tempting to start working as soon as you arrive at your new destination so you can see and do whatever is on your list. But tweens and teens can quickly become overwhelmed and overstimulated when traveling, which can quickly turn your child into Godzilla.
Therefore, make sure that the day you arrive at your vacation spot is a day of rest. Don’t plan anything. Check into your hotel or condo and let your tween or teen have time to unpack and relax. They might want to go out and explore a bit on foot or find a cool place to eat. Let them make the decisions, at least up to a point. Everyone needs some rest and some private time after travel, and it can be a great way to make your vacation easier.
If jet lag is a problem, give your preteen enough time to sleep over the next few days and stick to the new schedule. Don’t schedule sightseeing tours early in the morning or you’ll end up in a rude awakening when they refuse to get up, or you’ll spend the day in a bad state from lack of sleep.
Also make sure you have a few days off during your stay, or at least a few unscheduled mornings or afternoons. Your preteen or teen may just want to hang out at the hotel while you go out to explore a bit, or they may like walking the beach while you hold the fort and read a book. Don’t make the trip feel like a training ground for your children; remember, you are here to relax and have fun.
It is also important to remain flexible. If you’ve planned an exciting morning of sightseeing, but your child wakes up tired and cranky, it might be best to change your plans. More running will likely send you over the edge and, as a result, you will all suffer. Instead, hang out by the pool and go sightseeing on another day.
6. Let them navigate
Before going on vacation, teach your child to read a map and use a compass. Then put them in charge of navigation as you walk the streets of the city. Of course, they can use Google Maps on their phone, but using a map and a compass is more fun and challenging.
Will you always get to where you want to go? Probably not. But there’s a good chance that you are exploring some areas that you might not have explored otherwise. Remember to be aware of your surroundings and to leave an area if you feel, even for a moment, that you are unsure. Learn about common types of overseas theft to stay on top of local scams and scam scams.
7. Give them opportunities to have fun without you.
Many resorts and tourist destinations now offer tours or activities for tweens and teens that they can do without their parents. For example, Vail, Colorado offers horseback riding, zipline, and backpacking tours specifically for groups of teens and teens. In winter they offer a wide variety of ski and snowboard lessons and groups. The city also has free public transportation, which can be an easy way for teens to explore on their own.
Find out where you’re going to see if there are any tours or activities geared towards teens or teens. Be sure to read the reviews to determine if the activity is well supervised and safe. Then talk to your teen about things they would like to do on their own.
While there aren’t any guided tours for tweens or teens, they may want to take a kayaking trip or rowing lessons without you accompanying them. Get their feedback and, again, be sure to research visits to make sure your child is safe.
Traveling with tweens and teens can be stressful, but it will also be a more rewarding and rewarding experience for all of you. Remember, they’ll be adults the next time you blink, so try using this trip to reconnect and spend some time together.
What strategies, tips and tricks do you use when traveling with your tween or teen?