A. Road Trip With Teens – Tips For A Smooth Journey
Travel Mamas sometimes receives compensation and / or hosted travel and sample products related to blog posts. This story may contain affiliate links for which we receive a small commission at no additional cost to consumers. As an Amazon member, I make money with qualified purchases. Find out about travel restrictions and safety precautions before visiting companies and locations.
Would you like to be locked in close quarters with anxious hormonal teenagers for hours while you run down the street? That may not sound like heaven. But road trips with teens and tweens can be doable and (may I say ?!) downright fun. That is, if you plan ahead. Buckle up for adventure with these 13 tips for planning a trip with teenagers.
1. Consider renting a bigger car.
If you have a compact car, you may want to rent something larger for your youth travel, like a minivan or SUV. This is especially true if you are traveling a long distance with two or more children or are traveling by car. Teens are no longer as small as they used to be and need more space for their growing members. Plus, a bigger vehicle gives you more space to pack more things, like big teenagers’ shoes! See prices from multiple car rental companies in one place with Expedia.
2. Prepare teenagers for the trip.
Teenagers don’t like feeling out of control. (Who knows ?!) Therefore, it is important that you tell your children all about the trip in advance so that they know what to expect. First, tell them when the trip is taking place. If your kids are like my teenagers and preteens, you probably need to remind them a few times as you count the days to departure. Also, add road trip dates to your family calendar if you have one. Then tell the teenagers how long the trip is likely to be. This includes how many days you will be driving, how many hours you will be driving every day and how often you want to stop. The best thing to do is to show the route on a map. Some teens might even be interested in researching a few pit stops along the way.
3. Play travel games.
Entertainment is always a concern when planning a trip with your kids in tow. Older games like I Spy and 20 Questions are even fun for teenagers and tweens when played in moderation. To play even more, buy some compact games like Travel Backgammon and Loaded Questions On the Go. Get more ideas from this list of travel games.
4. Listen to audiobooks.
Audiobooks are a great distraction for the whole family. This is especially true if you choose stories that appeal to all ages, like the Harry Potter series. Check out other family travel audiobooks.
5. Teenagers love travel toys too.
You may think your teenage boy is too old to play toys. But there are fun things big kids still enjoy while traveling. Mad Libs, a Rubik’s Cube, and adult coloring books will help you increase the miles. Before you escape, discover even more travel toys for all ages.
6. Make sure your teenagers are well fed.
Nothing is grumpier than a starving teenager. Teenagers grow quickly and need a lot of food to feed themselves. Make sure you pack enough snacks for the trip. Bring a cool box with healthy options like fresh fruit, sandwiches, individually wrapped cheeses, and trail mix. Also, allow some special treats like candy bars or snack size snacks. In my family we like to pack the good snacks for you and stop at a convenience store on the way to get one or two “cheeky” delicacies. Discover these delicious travel snack ideas.
7. Let teenagers and tweens choose their own music.
Chances are, your kids have different tastes in music than you do. Encourage teenagers and tweens to bring headphones so they can hear their own soundtracks on their smart devices. This will greatly reduce the discussions about which songs to play.
8. Watch movies on the go.
There are many separate road travel activities to keep your family happy, but a little technology can go a long way on the road. If ever there was time to allow kids to watch the videos, it was during a long drive. Enjoy when your car (or rental car) is equipped with a rear seat entertainment system. I’ve even been known to climb in the back seat while my husband drives so I can watch movies with my kids while traveling. Children can also watch movies and TV shows on their smartphones or tablets. Make sure you download movies or bring DVDs with you for the trip. For travel themes, choose from this list of travel movies for kids.
9. Limit the video game.
Some teenagers want to bring handheld gamers or play video games on their smartphones. Remember that while playing video games in a moving car, passengers often feel nauseous. Hence, you need to limit this activity on the street. Better yet, let teenagers and tweens wait for their family to get to their destination before calling.
10. Be prepared for seasickness.
Hormones often play a role in causing seasickness. Since teenagers’ bodies are filled with an excess of estrogen and testosterone, even if their children have not had auto-sickness in the past, it happened in adolescence. Reading or looking at screens in cars can make seasickness worse, so set technical boundaries before leaving the house. Prepare yourself with seasickness remedies like Dramamine, just in case. To prevent or combat motion sickness, read our tips on motion sickness.
11. Reward good behavior.
To keep sibling fights and cheeky replies to a minimum, offer good behavior rewards. Yes, I suggest that you bribe your teenage travelers. Children who last an hour or two without a fight or complaint can win a Starbucks stop or a grocery store. Offer young people with a valid driver’s license the opportunity to drive part of the journey.
12. Stop stretching your growing legs.
Sitting still is not easy for young minds and bodies. When planning your itinerary, be sure to include stops along the way. Explore interesting parks and roadside attractions before leaving home. You can also bring a frisbee or soccer ball to play in the rest areas.
13. Go with the flow.
Perhaps you have blurry watercolor paintings on your mind from the ideal trip with your teenagers. You can imagine the whole family singing along on the radio and playing the license plate game, happily without complaining. Like any trip, a trip with teenagers and tweens has ups and downs. Spending hours huddled together can make everyone grumpy.
B. How To Plan An Amazing Road Trip With Teens & Tweens
Road trips are an American tradition, but they can be full of drama with teenagers on board. Take the stress out of your vacation with these tips for long trips for families with older children. These tips are based on my experiences on countless trips with my 2 teenage children. From 2 days in the car to visit family from abroad to longer trips to explore different areas, I’ve learned to travel with teenagers and youngsters. And now I am sharing my best tips with you because I want you to have a great trip with your older children. With these ways to make a trip a pleasure, you will enjoy spending time with your family, see some amazing places, and have some amazing memories that your family will cherish.
1. Get your teenagers involved in travel planning
Teens and pre-teens have different needs than younger children. They are looking for more independence and are trying to discover their personal identity. On the surface, these things are not part of spending hours in a family car.
However, with a little advance planning, you can create a fantastic family vacation. Let’s take a look at how to make a family day out a pleasure with these helpful tips:
- How to survive a long trip with teenagers
- Make yourself comfortable on the street
- What snacks and drinks should you take with you on a trip?
- The most important thing when driving a car
- How to make your teenagers feel more independent on a trip
- Tips to keep your mind on the road
2. Long travel tips for teenagers
Today I mainly focus on longer road trips that usually last more than a day. As a family you travel, live and sleep in a confined space, which can tire you. First, it’s okay to need personal space. We all need some time to relax, so it’s important to keep this in mind when taking a family outing. Taking time alone isn’t bad, but it can feel a little different when you’re driving.
And don’t forget that your kids want time to themselves too. The key to successfully traveling with teenagers is giving your children the space they want and helping them make decisions. Don’t be afraid to break the normal “house rules” a bit and let your children explore on their own (within reasonable limits of course!), Drive and even give them their own travel budget. These little gestures help your children feel more independent, and that results in happier children. And happy children mean the time spent together as a family is cherished rather than unforgiving.
1. Comfort plan
Nothing destroys the mood of a fun trip faster than an uncomfortable teenager. Encourage your older children to dress comfortably for the trip. My teenagers prefer to wear comfortable pajama pants and T-shirts for a long day in the car. Combat potential discomfort (and whining!) By packing up some cozy things from home. Think of blankets, pillows, a sweater or hooded sweatshirt and non-slip shoes. I also like to plan a lot of stretching time. Car journeys affect the body, which can irritate children (and adults!). Plan to stop every 3 hours to get out of the car and stretch. You can plan a stop at rest areas or roadside attractions. This is also a good time to switch drivers.
2. Don’t forget to eat!
When you have teenagers you know they love to EAT! And being stuck in the car for long periods of time can lead to bored snacks. The food from the car ride can make or break your experience. Prepare for snacks and drinks for the whole family. And take a little longer just in case. Nobody wants to hang out with hungry teenagers (or parents). The snacks you pack are just as important as the quantity. Add a variety of healthy snacks to some popular junk food items. Buy snacks in bulk and pack them in reusable snack bags for easy chewing. This is the time when you allow your teenagers to eat treats they don’t get on a daily basis. After all, it’s a vacation, isn’t it ?!
3. Give them a budget
If you’ve ever stopped to refuel and made the mistake of spending $ 25 on supermarket snacks, this tip is for you. Give your kids some independence and teach them how to budget on their next trip. Allowing your children to shop for themselves will avoid shopping discussions and teach them valuable lessons about money. Prepare a certain amount of money for each child (the amount is up to you). Be open and tell them that you are responsible for personal expenses while traveling.
You can allocate an amount per day or a collective amount for the trip. Let them take care of the snacks they buy on the go and any souvenirs they want to buy. You can extend this to grocery shopping too, but I found it difficult. This lesson on money management not only teaches them valuable budgeting skills, it also enables them to feel more independent.
4. Fun things to do on a long drive
Entertainment on the street is essential because boredom in the car is sure to bring out grumpy teenagers. Use these best practices to keep the family busy. First of all, don’t forget the headphones for each family member. With dedicated headphones per passenger, children and parents can hear what makes them happy. No more fighting over the type of music played on the radio. It also gives a sense of silence. Here are some essential entertainment items for any trip.
- The Red Box App: With this app you can not only find physical DVDs (which you can rent in one place and return in another), but it now also offers movies on demand.
- Netflix or other streaming apps. Use every subscription you have and avoid paying extra cash for entertainment.
- Invest in Spotify Premium for the whole family. You can download your favorite playlists before you go so you don’t lose any data.
- Funny Games. I-Spy, License Plate Game, Bluetooth DJ, Travel Bingo, Alphabet Game, Singalongs and more are on the table. If your kids are too cool to play with you, you can always play with your significant other.
- Electronic readers, books and audio books. They all offer individual entertainment for the coveted personal moment.
- Video games. They may be trying to cut down the screen time, but let them get carried away a little when they travel by car. Video games are a great way to give your kids some time to themselves.
5. Take regular breaks
Plan for a stop every 3-4 hours for the best travel experience. This gives everyone the opportunity to stretch out and break the monotony. Whenever possible, choose stops based on things that will be of interest to you and your children. If this is a trip that you take on a regular basis, plan some family favorites so everyone can look forward to something. For example, while we were on the 2-day family trip to Illinois, we stopped in North Platte for donuts and cheese at the exit of the Amana Colonies.
Rest areas are another option for taking breaks for meals and snacks. Most offer tables and a relaxing break from driving. We also plan to have one meal a day on road trips. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but we value a full-service restaurant. It’s a nice change of pace from driving and eating is a healthier option for fast food restaurants. Let your kids decide where to go.
6. Don’t overdo it
The biggest mistake families make when traveling with teenagers is driving too much. Plan your trip so that everyone can enjoy regular car breaks and enjoy the trip. Explore interesting sights along the way if you have more time. Use the Roadtripper app to find interesting stops on your route. Allow extra time in hotels and camps so the family can enjoy the amenities together. The pool is a great way for your teenagers and adults to burn off pent-up energy.
7. Let your children drive
If you have licensed drivers, make your kids feel like they are on the go by letting them drive you. This not only saves you from travel fatigue, but also offers your child a valuable driving experience.
8. Make it beautiful
Raising teenagers is hard enough as a parent. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too! To stay sane on a trip with teenagers, it is important to take time for yourself and your significant other. Book something special for yourself while your children explore on their own (age-appropriate of course!). Relax a little too. Every vacation has its ups and downs so try not to worry about the little things. So you can enjoy the experience a little more and your children will appreciate that you are a “nice dad”. Don’t compromise their safety, of course, but be prepared to give your teenagers and tweens a little more freedom if possible.
9. What to take with you when you are driving
When it comes to packing for a trip, you want to make sure you have a travel bag and that you double-check it! Be sure to pack group equipment and personal items separately. Think about the flow of travel and keep things handy in the car during the day so you don’t have to stop every 15 miles to search your luggage.
For trips lasting several days, I pack smaller “hotel bags” for each person. You can use bags or any other bag you have on hand. Each family member packs their own suitcase and fills it with the essentials for an overnight stay. Picking up the smaller bags makes the transition from car to living a breeze. And it’s a lot easier than lugging large suitcases into the hotel.