Traveling with children is difficult for many families. However, traveling with adolescents can be even trickier. If your teenager is having trouble adjusting to your upcoming family trip, you’re not alone. However, it’s entirely possible and gratifying to connect with your teen on the open road and learn more about each other through travel.
For even the most non-adventurous teen going through adolescence, traveling as a family can turn out to be a wonderful and life-changing experience that they’ll never forget.
1Be Open to Hearing Their Concerns
Teens just want to be heard and can often feel like their voices aren’t heard as they start to experience the in-between after childhood and before adulthood. Introducing a lot of change into their lives, whether positive or not, can feel scary to them.
When bringing up the idea of a trip, actively listen to your child. Ask them what they’re worried about, their fears, and what they think might happen on the trip. Instead of providing counterpoints, validate their feelings and let them know it makes sense. Being a teenager is hard, even if we don’t remember it.
The best way to get your teen on board is to be a supportive and gentle parent and communicate with your child.
2Let Them Help Plan the Trip
Even while you’re on the trip, let your teen have a say in how things go. You don’t have to let them plan the destination or change your itinerary entirely. However, it can be beneficial to give them the chance to pick where to eat or decide on an attraction or two.
You can learn more about your teen’s interests by seeing what kinds of tourist or travel activities they’re interested in. You may even find out something new about them and yourself. Perhaps you can bond over a skiing trip, even if you’ve never skied before.
3Use the Opportunity to Talk
Road trips are especially great for conversation. Since many teens don’t like long, drawn-out emotional discussions, it might do you well to casually bring up something you want to talk about. Perhaps you can have them read a non-fiction book with you in the car and discuss the topic afterward. Or you can play an educational podcast.
If you’ve been meaning to get to know your child more and spend more time with them, it’s a great time to bond. Sing songs together or talk about their new friends in school. Try having a conversation, even if it’s a little out of your comfort zone.
4Don’t Force It
At the end of the day, if your teenager is struggling with opening up and connecting with you, respect their boundaries. If they don’t want to talk, let them know that’s okay. You will talk when they’re ready. If they’re pushing back against travel plans, continue to offer the possibility of letting them in on the planning process. Even if they try to close themselves off from family interaction, continue to be open. Honesty and communication will help them feel more comfortable in opening up and being closer to you.