Family travel is not always easy. But we so believe that it is always worth it. This goes for the challenges of camping with babies, or the unique hurdles of RV travel with teens and tweens who might have a very long list of things they would rather do with their time.
Shellie Bailey-Shah from kidtripster.com is an experience traveler who has RVed all over the country with her two teenage sons. She is more than honest about that fact that her teens are often reluctant to go on these family adventures. However, like us, she shares the belief that it’s worth it to overcome the obstacles and make family travel a priority.
Shellie has paid attention to the things that make RV travel with teens and tweens more successful. She and her husband have at times compromised and reprioritized their own travel preferences in order to keep their teens engaged and on board. We invited her onto The RV Atlas podcast to share her nine top tips for traveling with reluctant teenagers. The original article that inspired this episode can be found here.
9 Tips for Traveling with Reluctant Teenagers
Understand your teen’s travel style.
Pay attention to the things that your teen really enjoys, and plan vacations around those interests. Do they love resort camping? Urban destinations? National Park? If you want to enjoy time with your teen, take their travel style into consideration when planning.
Involve them in the planning.
In addition to understanding their travel style, you might also consider letting them get involved in the planning. Shellie does the heavy lifting of researching a destination, and then offers her teens a ‘short list’ of activities and attractions they might find interesting. Letting them help craft the final itinerary might get your teens to buy in to the family vacation in a whole new way.
Be bold… unplug.
Many parents compromise with their teens on a family vacation by letting them stay connected with friends via social media. Shellie warms that this sometimes makes the FOMO even worse, by offering your teen a constant reminder of what they are missing out on back at home. Unplugging (Parents included!) might come along with an initial cranky withdrawal period, but the reward of family quality time will be worth it.
Travel with other families with teens.
Enjoying quality family time might mean including other families with teens. Most kids, no matter what age, just tend to have more fun with other kids around. If family friends don’t have RVs, look for campgrounds with tent camping or cabin camping and make an event out of it!
Invite a friend.
Be bold and let your teens invite a friend along on a family RV trip. Shellie does this regularly to get her boys more excited about camping getaways. She’s also smart enough to have the boys sleep outside in a tent while she enjoys the comforts and privacy of the RV. We love that idea!
Invite the “squad.”
For two years in a row, Shellie has hosted a whole ‘squad’ of boys on a weekend RV trip. She loves that she gets to spend time not just with her teens, but with their friends as well. Apparently this is a big hit with the squad, because they are already asking about next year’s trip.
Go light on the learning.
Teens spend a lot of time in school, and many of them are not interested in having educational experiences on vacation. If your teen is sooo over the Junior Ranger programs, don’t push it. Let them enjoy a little learning downtime on family trips.
Go big on the adventure.
And while traditional learning might be out of fashion, big adventures are probably the way to their heart at this stage. It’s worth the investment to really try to ‘wow’ your teen with some over the top experiences on family vacations.
Lay the groundwork for the future
The good news is that you are raising confident, independent young adults. The difficult news is that there are big changes right around the corner. This is the perfect time to camp with grandparents, other family members, and close friends. Convince your teen that the best family moments happen at the campground, and then hopefully you all will be camping together long into the future.
Unplugging Teens and Tweens for RV Travel
A couple of years ago, Kerri Cox of TravelswithBirdy.com came on the podcast to talk about balancing technology while traveling with teens. Kerri is always open and honest about her and Russel’s struggles to get their kids to unplug and enjoy the great outdoors. We appreciate her perspective, and think you will as well.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for her tips that we made back when the original segment aired.
What are your secrets for success when traveling with your teens? We would love to hear them. Leave a comment below or head over to our private Facebook group to join the friendly conversation around our digital campfire!
See you at the Campground,
Stephanie + Jeremy