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Family travel 5: A how-to guide to traveling with teens

Eager to travel with your teens? Planning together can make for a good time had by all. Here are five ideas to consider:

Eager to travel with your teens? Planning together can make for a good time had by all. Here are five ideas to consider:

1. Planning with purpose

Teens are developing adults, and most want to be included in choosing a destination or planning activities. When possible, offer your teen a portion of the trip to research or manage on his or her own. Talk through your budget parameters as part of the learning curve. Then, considering your economic and other guardrails, review a long list of hotels, resorts and cruise lines that offer special spaces, social programs, sports competitions, dance classes and Wi-Fi packages designed to keep teens happy. Once you all have agreed on a plan, encourage your teen to pack accordingly.

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2. Teens, tech and travel

It’s difficult to engage in conversation or share an experience when competing with a phone or tablet. Let your teen know how much you and other family members, especially grandparents, value the time together. While some families may be able to ban technology completely during a vacation, most will seek a workable solution. The cost of connecting to Wi-Fi on cruise ships and some resorts as well as security concerns may factor into your plan. Discuss defining tech-free zones such as dining tables, beach chairs or tour lectures. Agree, for example, that planes, trains, airports and defined personal time are free zones for pursuing individual interests.

3. Sleep matters

While you and other family members or fellow travelers might want to be first on the trail or in line at the theme park, museum or city tour, remember that if your teen is a fan of sleeping in and staying up late at home, the habit is not likely to disappear while on holiday. Be realistic. Talk it through and proceed accordingly. Home rentals, national park cabins or suite hotels provide separate sleep spaces that accommodate both early risers and night owls.

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4. Consideration and compromise

At different life stages, you and your teens are likely to have varied interests. Talk through the options for transportation, dining, activities and lodging. Define the sticking points and agree to disagree on some items. Consider taking turns choosing restaurants or culinary styles. Might it be possible for family members to occasionally split up to pursue separate activities? While working out the kinks is part of the growth process, tours and adventure itineraries designed to appeal to adults and teens may provide built-in solutions.

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5. Expanded horizons

Use travel as an opportunity to introduce your young travel companion to new experiences. Even if you have to nudge a little. From sushi and sashimi and smelly cheeses, to a long hike or paddle, to off-the-beaten path museums and theater performances, there is a first time for everything. You may spark a lifetime interest or provide fodder for future career conversations. By encouraging teens to move away from the familiar while in a safe environment, they’ll have more confidence when the time comes to go it alone. And that time will come before you know it.

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