Guest blog contributor: Dawn Nieves, blogger and mother of two
With Spring Break right around the corner, travel plans are well under way for not only my family but millions of other families as well. Spring Break is the perfect time to escape the cold temperatures of winter (for most of us!) to someplace a little bit warmer. One of the things I take into account before planning any sort of family vacation is just how friendly the destination is for younger kids and teens alike.
While travel with my youngest requires a different set of challenges, traveling with my young teen is surprisingly pretty stress free. He is naturally curious and loves to explore the world – he’s been a great travel companion and an eager participant in most of our activities. But if you’ve ever traveled with a teenager, you know it can sometimes be a struggle between wanting to spend time with family and missing the friends they left behind. Right now I’m grateful he still enjoys traveling with us!
Now matter how old he gets or how independent he wants to be, his independence is still something as a mom I struggle with. To help him feel a little more independent and me a little more comfortable, I’ve set a few simple ground rules when it comes to traveling so we’re both happy.
Set Ground Rules
Before any trip, it’s a good idea to go over some ground rules for the trip. Take this time to remind your teen that no matter how comfortable they may feel, they’re still in a new place and rules for interacting with people, and behavior still apply.
Download a Location Sharing App
One of my favorite travel hacks is to make sure that everyone in my traveling party has the Life360 app installed on their phone. With the Life360 app, if anyone gets lost or separated from the group, a quick glance at the app will help them find their way back to us. It also helps me feel more confident letting him explore his independence, knowing that I can check in on him with one quick tap. We can easily coordinate meet ups using the app too. If we split up for a few hours and tour different places, he can easily find his way back to us.
Set a Curfew
Just like at home, my teen knows there’s still a curfew. If you’re traveling with younger ones who have an early bedtime, teens may get bored and want to explore the destination or resort a bit on their own. Set a time you expect them to be back and let them explore.
Help Them Be Independent
Help your teen plan out and explore the different locations on the trip. If you’re planning something for the little ones or an exhibit that you know your teen won’t have an interest in, use this time to find something that they will be interested in. This is the perfect time to let them explore local stores, museums or attractions that are nearby and interest them.
Have a Communication Plan
Even if you have an app in place, it’s important to talk to your teen about knowing when and where to check in with you throughout the day. Have a way to get in touch if plans change on either end.