Parent-Teen Trips

On vacation


KidTripster Teen: 7 tips for making the most of a solo parent-teen getaway

Mother-son vacation

Why go?

My mom and I have been traveling together since I was baby. These vacations without dad have been a chance for us to have some special mother-daughter bonding time. (Don’t worry, dad gets his time, too!) When I approached the teenaged years, though, our vacations were hit with certain challenges that required us to change things up to keep the peace. Through some trial and error, we’ve found ways to navigate our trips so we still can enjoy our time together. These are guidelines that we use to guarantee a no-drama holiday for both parent and teen.

Editor’s note: While our KidTripster Teen reveals tips from her mother-daughter vacations, the advice applies to mother-son, dad-daughter, and dad-son trips, as well.

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1/Plan together

Obviously, the parents get final say about the destination, but getting everyone involved in the planning makes sure that teens (especially the most opinionated ones) get their voices heard. In addition to having input regarding the destination, my mom lets me decide on some of the activities that we’ll do while on our trip. The more collaboration that happens before you leave, the less grumbling teens will do after you get there!

2/Set ground rules

Vacations are supposed to be fun, but that doesn’t mean that the house rules get tossed out the window. Before leaving, moms and dads should set teens’ expectations about what they will and won’t be allowed to do on the trip. That said, parents can try and be a little more relaxed about certain rules. For example, my mom’s a stickler for making me keep my bedroom neat at home, but if I’m a tad messy while we’re at the hotel, she’ll let it slide.

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3/Include downtime

I’ve learned that it’s important to keep a schedule if you want to get the most out of a vacation, but that’s not to say that every second of every day needs be jam-packed visiting monuments and museums. Don’t forget to allow both parent and teen some free time in the itinerary to relax by the pool, chill at a cafe, or even just unwind in the hotel room. And it’s perfectly ok if you spend that time separately.

4/Hit the snooze button

I love to get up before the sun, but I’m keenly aware that puts me in the minority as far as teenagers go. Don’t forget that vacations are meant to be relaxing, so unless your kid is an early riser like me, let him or her catch a few extra zzz’s while on holiday. This most likely will result in a positive mental attitude throughout the rest of the day. Besides, a sleeping teen gives a parent the opportunity to enjoy some alone time, if needed.

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5/Travel Allowance

Parents aren’t piggy banks! To avoid arguments about money, my mom and I establish a travel allowance. My mom gives me a certain amount of money to spend on a trip and that’s it. Everything else is on my dime or no dime at all. I’ve discovered that it’s good to have a budget because I’m a lot more conscious of what I buy when I have a set spending limit.

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6/Screen schedule

Let’s face it, most kids today suffer from a chronic case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and it’s difficult to get them to part with their beloved electronics; so banning screen time altogether on a trip may not be realistic. Conversely, teens shouldn’t expect to have free rein of their devices while on vacation. Whether it’s social media, video games or even the web, parents and teens should come to an agreement about screen limits, as well as where and when screen time is appropriate during the trip. And parents, it doesn’t hurt to set a good example here with your own screen time.

KidTripster Tip: Make sure that your teen is aware of his or her mobile coverage and data limits, especially when traveling internationally.

7/Invite friends

As the old adage goes, the more the merrier! However, I’m not suggesting here that teens invite a friend to tag along. That would sort of defeat the purpose of the trip. What I am suggesting is to consider inviting another parent-teen duo to add to the experience. It can be fun to try this with friends or even other family members. And when parents and teens need a break from each other (because let’s face it, that’s probably inevitable), both of you have someone else to hang out with.

Laine Messier is a world-traveling, homeschooled high schooler. Her life did a total 180 when her dad took a job in Abu Dhabi. Now she splits her time between the USA and UAE, finding fantastic things to do in both places and everywhere in between. Outside of being an avid adventurer, she also loves mystery novels, superheroes, and gluten-free pizza.

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