One of the best ways to enjoy family life with teens is on vacation, when you are all going in one direction at the same time. You would be amazed by the conversations that happen in the car that there is not time or occasion for back home. After all, you are all more or less captive audiences, and one of the ways the drive is special is when open heart to heart conversation occurs.
1. Talk it Up Before You Go
The best way to get your teen interested in a driving trip is to talk it up. If you are making the plans, talk about what you have found, what you think they will enjoy on the journey, and why.
2. Expand Their Minds
Vacation does not mean putting your brain on hold. Teens are thinking all the time, sometimes the wheels in their head are spinning faster than the ones that touch the pavement. You are going places where there are mind-expanding opportunities. Plan for them. For instance, most science museums are geared for hands-on activities that will bring the concepts to life.
3. Broaden Their Horizons
So they’ve never seen the ocean, or ridden a horse, or watched a bison herd up close, visited a National Park, or attended a Broadway play? Depending on where you are going you can do some or all of these. Make this trip the one where they do something new. Who knows, it may turn out to be a lifelong passion.
4. Show Them Things You Cannot See Anywhere Else
Where you are going, there are roads to places that they may not have known existed. See the hidden away chapel where one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence carved his name as a child, years before he signed America’s most famous piece of paper. Pan for gold, climb a mountain, do something that is unique and memorable.
5. Augment Their Hobbies And Interests
If they love sports or music or art, be sure it is on the itinerary. Take them to a show, a gallery, or a shop that specializes in what they do. Is their favorite musician on tour and in town? Go to the concert with them, you may find some new music that you fall in love with too.
6. Ask Them To Plan The Day
If you do all of the planning, it may seem too easy for them. Tell them you will be in Place A and say, “Why don’t you plan the day for the family and we will do whatever you decide, within reason.” Granny may not be into bungee jumping, but she may watch!
7. Have Fun
Build time into your travels to stop and smell the roses, to laugh together, to let off some pent-up energy, and to relax. Expect that you may see a sign that will take you on an unexpected detour that may turn out to be the best part of the trip.
8. Talk About It at the End of Each Day
Maybe over dinner ask, “what was it that we did that you liked best?” You may be surprised by what you hear. Also ask, “what didn’t you like so we can avoid that in the future?”
9. Invite Them to Drive
For older teens, this is an honor and a treat that tells them you trust them and are confident in their abilities. And since you taught them, you already know they are careful and good drivers. Let them take their turn behind the wheel. You may not want to ask them if you are going to be in snarly interstate traffic around a major city, but then again, they are younger and may have better skills behind the wheel than their elders.
They will be missing their friends back home (especially their girlfriend or boyfriend), so build in time for them to text and stay in touch. Be sure you have the snacks they like with you in the car. Ask them to bring along their earbuds so they can listen to what they want on those longer boring stretches and the music doesn’t distract from your driving. Remember, one of these days they will be the ones planning the trip and you will be the one going along for the ride!