Traveling can be stressful at times. Traveling with Teens can be the worst! I know. But it doesn’t have to be.
I’m here to say that I survived a year and a half with three teens in an RV. It can be done and I’m sharing my best travel tips.
I may be in the minority when I say that I actually love traveling with teens. For the most part, my teens are pretty easygoing.
There have been a few exceptions but, we’ve pretty much been able to travel without too many bumps along the journey.
10 Tips to Keeping the Peace when Traveling with Teens
These aren’t tips from someone who has no clue what it’s like to travel with teens. I assure you these tried and true tips and guidelines from this mom who’s been there have helped my family survive thousands of miles on the road.
1. Work around their schedule.
Just like my husband wouldn’t be thrilled if I planned a vacation during his busiest time at work, my kids don’t appreciate me planning outings when they are swamped with school, activities, or their jobs.
Take your teenagers commitments seriously.
That may mean that you don’t get away as a family as often as you once did, but it will go a long way towards keeping the peace, and not just when you’re on vacation.
2. Ask for their opinion and input.
When I begin planning a trip I always ask my kids what they are most interested in doing. I do this for two reasons.
1) I really want them to enjoy our trip and it makes them feel good to know that I value their opinion.
2) If we visit an attraction or do an activity and we don’t enjoy it as much as we think we will, they can’t blame me for having a poor time!
3. Consider your teen’s interests and plan accordingly.
When my oldest son turned 18, he and I traveled to NYC to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art and St. Johns Cathedral. He loves art and architecture. I know if I plan a house tour on vacation, he’s probably going to enjoy it.
My middle child is my most active and physical child. He loves to spend time outdoors and the more challenging the activity, the better. Ziplining, kayaking, snorkeling, and learning to hang glide are perfect choices for him.
My daughter is really interested in music. We’ve been known to plan an out-of-state getaway around her favorite band’s tour schedule so she could see them play. She also loves to shop. On our visit to NYC, she wanted to step foot in every single Forever 21 store. And I’m proud to say, we managed to visit almost every single store in Manhattan.
Your vacation doesn’t need and shouldn’t revolve solely around your children, but working in outings based on their interests makes them feel as though the vacation is for them too. Because let’s face it, vacation isn’t simply for mom and dad, it’s about making memories, and don’t you want them to be happy memories?
4. Allow your teen to have some spending money and set a budget in advance.
I no longer budget spending money for my kids. My boys both work so they have their own money to spend.
However, when they were younger, their dad and I would give them some money from our travel jar before our trip began so if they found things they wanted along the way, they could determine if they had enough money.
Typically, my kids have never really been interested in buying souvenirs when we travel but there have been exceptions, like our trip to Disney when they discovered pin trading or when we met their cousins in Knoxville and they went to Build-A-Bear.
5. Consider allowing them to take a friend.
My kids truly enjoy being around my husband and me, but they are teenagers and I know that as much as they may enjoy taking a trip as a family, there are some trips that they may LOVE if taken with friends.
There have been several times when things worked out logistically and we were able to invite friends along on our trips.
6. Set expectations in advance.
It helps your teen to know what is expected of them in all circumstances. Our kids are getting older and we allow them a fair bit of freedom that wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate for a younger or less mature teen. Know your teen and set expectations accordingly.
When we went on our last cruise, our teens wanted to hang out at the teen club. We allowed them the freedom to pretty much choose what they wanted to do as long as they met us at predetermined times for dinner, certain shows, or events that we thought would be enjoyable for all of us. We also gave them a curfew in advance so they knew what was expected of them before our vacation.
If your teen wants to sleep in on vacation and vacation is about family time, you may not want them to sleep until two in the afternoon so determine a time for everyone to wake up and meet for activities or family time.
7. Allow them to stay connected.
When I travel, I always pack my smartphone and my laptop. I like to stay connected and because I travel for my job, our vacations are sometimes working vacations for me and I typically spend time working before they get up or after everyone goes to bed. That’s an entirely different blog post.
My kids like to stay connected too. Even though we are on a family vacation, we normally allow them to remain connected. We may place modifications on their usage, but we don’t cut them off entirely.
And now that they’re older, they not only like to use social media to share photos of what they’re up to, but they also use Instagram and TikTok to find cool things to do in the area. The last time we visited the Outer Banks, they found a great restaurant for lunch while searching the location on Instagram.
8. Plan downtime for your trip.
Teens do get tired. And when they get tired, they get cranky. That’s not much different from my husband and me for that reason, I typically plan downtime into our schedule.
My husband and I learned early on that we were never going to be the family that needs a vacation from their vacation. My husband works a very physical job and when he takes time off, he wants to relax. Know what works best for you and your family. In my experience, we can always find more to do.
9. Keep them in the loop.
My kids all want to know what’s on the agenda. On our trip to Put-in-Bay, I told them in advance what we’d be doing and sent them a schedule so they knew what to expect each day.
10. Choose your lodging carefully.
I don’t think I fully realized how important lodging was until our first cruise when the boys got in a fight in our cabin. They were simply tired of not having any privacy or space of their own.
I have to admit, cruise ship rooms aren’t exactly known for their spaciousness and though it would have been nice to have more room, another cabin wasn’t in the budget.
Now when choosing rooms, I look for suites that cater to the family, adjoining rooms, Airbnb’s, or other vacation rentals. It may cost a little bit more but it’s worth it to keep the peace.
If we’re staying in a hotel, our favorite family-friendly chain is Drury Hotels. We can typically rent a large 2-room suite and their amenities can’t be beaten. Free soda and popcorn throughout the day, a full hot buffet-style breakfast and evening Kick Backs which is pretty much an evening meal, and up to 3 alcoholic beverages for those over 21 make Drury an affordable option for families.
We absolutely love the Drury Plaza Hotel in Downtown Cleveland. The building, which was the former Board of Education building boasts two massive murals in the lobby with public art steps from the building in the courtyard outside. It’s also an easy walk to Public Square, and Playhouse Square, and a short walk to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Do you travel with teens? What tips can you share when it comes to keeping the peace?
Did you enjoy this post? Here are three more posts you may enjoy.
Are you planning a trip to Atlanta? We’re sharing 40+ Things to do in Atlanta with Teens.
South Bass Island gets a bad rap as a party island and honestly, there are times when that is true. But when you’re able to avoid those times, the island becomes very family-friendly. We even compiled a list of The Best Things to do on Put-in-Bay with Teens.
We’ve also put together a post of places that are ideal for vacationing when traveling with teens. Read that post here —-> 9 Fun Destinations for Your Next Epic Teen Family Vacation
Tuesday 28th of April 2015
These are great tips- I have nothing to add (and we travel with our teen:) sending this to my husband
Thursday 30th of April 2015
My teens have moved on to adulthood. I should probably write another post... Thanks for stopping by & commenting!
Sunday 26th of April 2015
Awesome tips! I will be calling you in the next year or two for MORE advice - ha, ha!
Friday 20th of March 2015
This is a great post. Spot on!
Sunday 29th of March 2015
Thanks Shannon! I think teens just get a bad rap sometimes. They really are easy to travel with if you take their interests and schedule into consideration when planning.
SJ @ Chasing the Donkey
Saturday 13th of September 2014
I think that picking the activities is the best tip of all!
Dee @ Cocktails with Mom
Thursday 5th of June 2014
I have a teen and pre-teen and traveling with them is always interesting. I find that getting them involved in the planning process helps out a lot.
Saturday 7th of June 2014
Absolutely! It's so important to involve the kids in what you plan to do.