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Old 08-24-2003, 02:24 PM
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Traveling With Teens

Traveling with Teens: Tips for Success

By Ronnie Mae Weiss and Marlene Ellin


They scorn escargot and caviar for pizza and burgers. Sometimes they’re moody, even rude. They crave independence and will probably protest that they don’t want to go with you.

So why would you really want to vacation with your teen-ager?

Well, consider this recent account from a friend of ours:

“We were waiting in line to get into the Schubert Theater on Broadway, when my daughter threw her arms around my neck and kissed me. ‘You’re my favorite mom,’ she said. Would she ever do that at home? No way! The trip would have been worth every penny just for that.”

There you have it. If you can pry your teen away from her home turf, she’ll be out of range of her school’s unforgiving arbiters of “cool.” Free from fears of lunchroom slander and late night IM attacks. Free to reveal her true self. She might express a whole range of emotions you never suspected she had, openly display curiosity, and eagerly soak up new experiences. And – once removed from friends, e-mail and text messages – she might begin talking with you about all sorts of things she typically reserves for her buddies – from how cute the boys were at Nick’s party to what she really thinks about dishonest politicians and underage drinking. Sound good? Read on.

Tips for a Successful Trip
Once you’ve done a little virtual arm twisting to convince your teen to go on vacation with you, don’t assume that it will be just like the old days, when splashing in the surf or watching someone juggle in the park evoked wild enthusiasm. To be successful, travel with adolescents requires a little more planning and a lot of flexibility. Here are some recommendations to keep in mind:

• Choose a destination they’ll enjoy. City visits are great for teens who couldn’t care less about beautiful scenery and don’t relish the idea of spending hours on end alone with their parents.

• Research your destination’s events and sites thoroughly. Check the city’s Web site for the local convention and visitors’ bureau to research attractions and special events during your visit. Choose activities that will engage your teen, even if you have to skip a few popular attractions. You needn’t assume that it’s “now or never” for viewing every museum and monument. Instead, plan at least one activity a day around your teen’s interests, perhaps a sporting event, play or concert. Many indoor sports arenas, outdoor amusement parks and water parks also cater to teen tastes. For older teens, a visit to an urban college campus can help them learn what college “feels like” and provide access to unusual concerts, plays and movies at affordable prices.

• Include your teens in the preparation, but don’t push them. You might get discouraged if you expect your children to do much research and planning; most will tell you they’re too busy or don’t care what they do on the trip. Instead, just propose, and let them dispose. At the dinner table, discuss the pros and cons of different options, and then press them to make choices. If you have more than one teen, let each one pick one activity for each day of the vacation. In addition to generating enthusiasm for the trip, this will create a nice break from the typical “what did you do in school today?” dinner conversation.

• Scout out the right kind of accommodations. The most important criterion is location. Don’t force your family to wait hours for buses or trains to get into the heart of the city. Choose a hotel that puts you in the center of the action when you walk out the front door, with plenty of easy dining and browsing opportunities nearby.

Search Internet travel sites for hotels with rooms that will allow your teen a little privacy, even if it’s just on a fold-out couch in an alcove. Some hotels offer a second, adjoining room at half price. Others offer suites at reasonable rates.

Swimming pools and spas are still attractive to most teens, as are hotel shops and restaurants.

Look for deals that include breakfast to save both time and money. And if you’re calling for reservations, always ask about discounted rates.

• Give your teen a wide berth. Allow your teen some physical space – if you’re staying in a safe part of the city, let him go have a snack or check out the stores by himself. Be sure to give him some mental space, too. When you’re together, don’t ask a lot of questions or try to play the professor; he wants to take in the new surroundings in his own way and proceed at his own pace. No matter how much talking you do or how many things you point out, you won’t convince your teen to see or experience the trip the same way you do.
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Old 08-24-2003, 02:26 PM
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MORE TIPS.....

Travel with Teens: Hard-Won Wisdom from Intrepid Family Travelers
By Ronnie Mae Weiss and Marlene Ellin

Here are some tips to avoid conflict and mutual frustration when traveling with your teen:
• Negotiate with your teen on when he will wake up. Most adolescents like to stay up late and sleep late. If you force an early start, you may find yourself with a seriously sulky companion during the best part of the day. Are you always ready for action before 9 a.m.? Lock the door, go out for breakfast, and bring something edible back to the room for your sleeper. If that doesn’t feel safe or comfortable, order room service and read the morning paper. Relax – you’re on vacation.

• Let your teen bring along a book or CD player everywhere you go. Even if you’re dying for her to soak up that Paul Klee exhibition, don’t force it. If you’ve been on the go all day, she may need downtime – and besides, she’s observing more than you think. Later in the day, she might surprise you by recounting details about both sights and people that completely escaped your notice.

• Keep museum visits short. Stop by the information desk and pick up a map. Let each person pick a room or special exhibit, spend 15 to 20 minutes on each choice, then leave.

• Let your teen stay in touch with friends. Even though you’re on vacation, give your child time to make a couple of phone calls or duck into an Internet café for some e-mailing.

• Eat simply and often. Save the four-star dining experience for a night out alone with your partner. Let your teen help choose what and where you eat. Plan a few stops for snacks and people-watching during the day. And it doesn’t hurt to tuck some healthy snacks in your purse in case you get stuck in long lines.

• Leave time for shopping. For some teens, the highlight of a trip might be a trendy, Euro-style boutique, a music store that lets you sit in a booth and listen to all the CDs you want, or a vast sporting goods store with a climbing wall. If safety is not an issue, let your teen visit these places alone or with a sibling.

• Make your teen carry his own money. Vacations are a great time to foster a teen’s independence by insisting that he carry money he’s saved or earned so he can learn to manage a budget and make his own purchasing decisions. Encourage him to buy souvenirs and inexpensive gifts for friends so he can experience the pleasure that brings.

• Allow some downtime. If you’re getting on each other’s nerves, both you and your teen may be getting trip fatigue. Go back to the hotel, take a swim or watch a movie and order room service. You can go down to the bar or for a walk to give your child some privacy. Take a break and just “chill,” as your teen would say.

Still dubious about whether vacationing with your teen would be enjoyable? Consider what Rick Guttenberg, the father of a 16-year-old, has to say:

“It’s much easier for us to be together on vacation than at home, because both my daughter and I have so many daily demands on our time. Our family trips have been important bonding experiences – times to exchange ideas and impressions and share deep feelings.”

Now, what parent would pass up the opportunity for that kind of experience?



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