Holidaying with teens

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
We’re being urged to get out and see our country and it seems many of us took up the challenge these school holidays. Travelling with youngsters can be a bit of a mission, especially if there’s a range of ages, writes parenting columnist Ian Munro.

Ian Munro
Ian Munro
A friend of ours, just back from a road trip north, was in that situation. They managed the two younger ones quite well as they’d had a good number of years of practice, but it was the first time with their newly-minted teenager.

It’s not so much the journey that’s the issue. The iPhone and the AirPods take care of that. It’s how to keep them happy once you’re there.

It’s no use trying to persuade them that they’ll have more fun with you than with their friends.

Instead you’ll probably say something like, ‘‘We’re going to have a holiday together and that’s that. The time will come soon enough when we go our separate ways, so in the meantime we’re sticking together for a bit longer.’’

Having said that, try to come up with at least one activity that they’ll look forward to - perhaps a bungy jump, hang-gliding, surf lesson or diving class. And one major event, side trip or other experience as a focal point for the holiday.

Let them help with the planning. They may come up with a movie location or sports event or Hall of Fame that interests them. Get them online to check out what’s happening when you’re there.

Consider taking them out to a late-night event that you mightn’t do at home or letting them go by themselves if there’s more than one - a midnight movie or a youth-focused activity. Drop them off and pick them up. You can keep in phone contact and even arrange to be somewhere nearby yourself for the evening.

Be prepared to go separate ways - one parent and a youngster to the dinosaur exhibition and the other parent and the teen to the mall.

Give them freedom to look after themselves in certain environments like the mall, the pool, museum or amusement park and arrange a meeting place and time.

If your teen likes to lie-in in the morning, schedule a lie-in for them one morning and wake them for brunch. A reciprocal arrangement could be that they baby-sit one night while you have a night out without the kids in tow.

If the aim of the holiday is to get away from all the places mentioned above, give your teen responsibility for some aspect of the tramp or the preparation - menu planning or possible side trips. Again, try to build in a specific event - a jetboat ride, kayak adventure or the two of you tackling the highest peak.

That’s what’s great about New Zealand - a world of variety in one small package.


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