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Traveling with Teenagers: 6 Ways to Make it Fun

For many teens, the idea of spending the summer cooped up with the family for a vacation is less than appealing. And that means that you could end up with a surly, snarly member of the family on your trip.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to travel with a teenager and have a good time. With a few simple steps, you’ll be able to meet your teen’s needs and have a peaceful vacation.

1. When you are planning your vacation, do your best to remember what it was like to be a teenager.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how embarrassing it is to be stuck with your parents on a road trip. Teenagers crave freedom and independence, which isn’t always possible on a family vacation. Once you understand a bit about what your teen needs, you can take steps to meet those needs within reason.

2. As much as possible, let your teen help with the planning. You can really let your teenagers experience independence by allowing them to get more involved with the planning. Ask them to do some research on travel coupons and discounts. Ask them to take a look at online travel sites, such as Travelocity and Orbitz, to find ideas on must-see places to visit.

Get their input on where you’ll go and what kind of travel arrangements you’ll make. Make sure your teenagers understand that this is a collaborative process and not an opportunity for them to get everything that they want. Let them choose something small, such as a rest stop along the way or a specific tourist destination. They’ll feel more involved and like a part of the family this way and they’ll appreciate being treated in a mature fashion.

3. Continue the group decision-making process when you hit the road. Consult with them on restaurant choices, or get input on vacation souvenirs. Include your teen in major decisions and they’ll stay happy throughout the course of the trip.

4. Allow your teen a bit of freedom and space on the trip, especially when you are walking around in public. Allow him or her to walk a bit behind you and physically separate from the family. Nothing will embarrass a teen more than being joined at the hip to parents. You don’t need to completely let your teen loose to allow them to feel freedom.

5. Try not to embarrass your teenager while you are out and about. What may have been seen as funny behavior a few years ago is now probably mortifying to your teen. Be careful of trying to pull them out of their shell if all they want to do is go into a corner and listen to their iPod. Teenagers need time away from their family, particularly because you’re all in such close quarters.

6. Give your teen something to be in charge of during the trip, such as the photography or video equipment. Most teenagers like electronics and giving them these responsibilities will keep their minds on getting a task done and away from sulking. No matter what duties you give to your teen, make sure it’s not babysitting. This is their vacation too and they don’t want to spend the whole time taking care of younger siblings.

You can’t ensure that your teen won’t sulk and detach the entire time (he or she is a teenager after all! But with these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your family vacation a little more this year.

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