Traveling with Teens
The protracted screech of a braking train is perhaps the only thing less pleasant than the thought of a no-escape vacation in close quarters with a teenager. Travel can bring out the worst in people and if you are going through a rough patch with your teenager, don’t expect a family vacation to bring out the Waltons in you. There are things you can do, however, to increase your chances of good holiday. Ask your teen to help plan the trip, and make sure it includes things he or she wants to do. Avoid long drives in the car. Allow time for more leisure activities like time in the pool, even if you’re in a “once in a lifetime” spot. Go easy on iPod and video game restrictions to allow everyone a chance to chill out. And, try to keep your own emotions and reactions in check and stop yourself from saying things out loud that will only create more conflict.
Summertime travel can sometimes feel like a sacrifice when each person can’t get exactly what he wants. Travel dynamics and logistics are not nearly as easy as when you were a couple without kids. But like a lot of things in life with kids, if you look at children as an opportunity rather than as an obstacle, you can find things to do together that are made even more special because you are seeing things through their eyes.
I know some couples who have been married for 20 years and never have had a weekend without the kids since they were born. I wouldn’t recommend this. Married couples need nights out, and even nights away to recharge the romantic batteries. Whether it’s a motel down the road, or a trip a thousand miles away, try to make at least one trip away each year. Obviously, this is impossible in some situations where reliable childcare is not available or affordable for such a long time away. If, however, you have family around, take advantage of their generosity, and overcome your guilt, even if for just 24 hours.
Here are some rules to make that getaway easier for you, and for the kids:
1. Go to a place without kids. You want to be around any kids who will make you feel guilty for leaving yours behind. It will be hard to enjoy yourself if you’re both comparing other rugrats to your beautiful, intelligent, and well-mannered kids back home.
2. Do not call home, ET. Make sure everyone is aware that you will not be calling in, if this is a 24-hour trip. Likewise, no one should call you unless it’s truly an emergency.
3. Go in the middle of the week. Yes that sounds counter-intuitive, but if you go midweek, you’ll score three advantages. You might get a cheaper room (if not a business hotel), the kids will be focussed on school, an you’ll benefit from that illicit feeling that you’re cheating the system and playing hookey. This last might add more spice to your adventure away.
4. Plan events you can enjoy together. That doesn’t mean suffering if she wants to tour a flower garden, but it likely means you golfing alone all afternoon is out. The idea is to spend time together, not to take a mini-vacation away from her and the kids.
5. Drive if you can. Pulling away in a car makes the trip start right away, versus after a long day hassle with the airport. If you can limit your destination to just 1-2 hours away, you’ll be able to maximize the feeling putting distance and minimize the stress of too much travel.
6. Give the kids a big gift. And, do let them watch TV and movies while you’re gone. You’re getting away to be pampered; why not let them enjoy themselves too. A little gift left to be opened after you leave will also help ease the pain of separation, or at least distract them a bit.
While it’s hard to cram in a full year of life before kids in a weekend, it sure is fun to try.
Here’s a fun dadventure for those in or close to Oregon. This is a newspaper recount of an expedition made by Jennifer Margulis and her husband, GreatDad contributor, James di Properzio.
If you’ve never been snowshoeing, you probably imagine you’ll crunch effortlessly atop acres of snow in your tennis-racket-like snowshoes, just like Yukon Cornelius, the blustery prospector who subdues the Abominable Snow Monster in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
But when my husband and I took our three children to Crater Lake on a squally Saturday in December, we grown-ups sank into the snow, flipping the powdery stuff into the faces of those who walked behind us.
Guess Who Travel Game – Our kids loved this simple game that teaches kids deductive reasoning as they eliminate suspects to find the last person standing. By asking questions of their competitor like “does the person where glasses” or “have blond hair,” kids can easily play the game even before they can read. It’s an easy to pack travel game, or for playing at home. Unfortunately, the cards, however, are easily lost so it takes an adult around to keep from losing all the parts. My kids played this so many time though, they broke the pieces off the hinges before they lost any cards. $10.45 (a bit more expensive than you would think for a game built like this, but we did get our money’s worth.)
As I settled into my tiny seat on a recent flight, a woman asked me if I’d trade my aisle seat for her middle so she could be, as she said, ” with my girls.” She was a young-ish looking mom-type, and my first reaction was to give up my seat. After all, it was just a short 90 minute flight and for the sake of a beleaguered mom, I could afford to be chivalrous. However, in a split second, I realized that the “girls” she was referring to were the two boisterous women who were already next to me. It was a trip to Las Vegas after all.
Was I close to having been hoodwinked, or was she just using the vernacular of the situation? It’s not important, but I wondered, when would you give up your seat? For a mom with kids? If not giving up the seat meant that you would be baby sitting for a few hours? Only if not inconvenient to you (comparable seat).
My wife and I have traveled all over the world with our kids, and many times, have relied on the courtesy of strangers to untangle the twisted airlines’ seating plans. In 99% of the cases, we’d found people willing to switch, especially when they saw the ages of our little ones, who are now four and eight.