Our family has been known to take some pretty epic road trips! The kids are currently sitting at 31 states and we are dreaming of the next adventure to help that number grow. Recently we spent some time in Washington DC with the kids. From the Smithsonian museums & presidential monuments to Mt. Vernon, Monticello and the Supreme Court, we had some great adventures. The amazing thing is that we can take these trips with teens and still stay sane. Here are some of our tips for how to survive a family vacation with teens (and still like each other after the trip is over!).
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How to Survive a Family Vacation with Teens
Keep Snacks on Hand:
Everyone can get cranky when they are hungry but it’s not always convenient to stop and eat a full meal when you are on a mission to see it all on a vacation. We prepare for the hunger attacks by carrying bottles of water, snack bars and gum if possible.
When we are in the car, we keep a snack bag filled with easy-to-peel tangerines, hard candy, and even a box of homemade chocolate cookies to tide us over some long road miles.
When you are on a schedule to see museums and buildings and have timed tickets, you can’t always stop for a real meal. You also can’t carry food and drinks into most museums. Since most of the buildings in Washington DC have metal detectors and baggage checks, you don’t want to carry big backpacks with you. Plan ahead and keep small bills handy for grabbing a snack at food trucks as you are walking or taking the subway from one destination to the next. Don’t forget to pack a portable battery charger so you can keep your teens connected in case you get separated!
Plan something for everyone:
Not everyone in the family likes the same things. So to keep a family vacation going smooth, we try to pick things that interest each member of the family. Some members prefer history, others like interactive museums, some like politics and others are just interested in the best places to eat and the milkshakes for dessert. Think about what grabs each family members attention and make sure you plan a wide range of things to experience.
Plan Boredom Busters in the Car:
When we travel long trips, we break up the miles with audio books, podcasts and new playlists. Since all three of our kids are avid readers, we make sure and download new books for their Kindle readers before our trip and provide charging cords so everyone can stay charged and connected.
On our recent trip this past weekend we knocked out James Patterson’s Maximum Ride on audiobook. It was a four-hour long audiobook and made the drive much quicker for everyone. Plus, it’s on AR so that means bonus AR points at school!
Where can you find audiobooks? Many local libraries offer a wide selection of audiobooks that you can check out for free. If your library doesn’t have a book that interests you, then just ask. Sometimes they are able to request the audiobook through interlibrary loan. You can also purchase audiobooks on Amazon.com for a decent price.
Don’t push the limits:
Travel can be tiring for everyone, not just for the driver. We know that we can typically get no more than three hours down the road before we need to stop. But we don’t stop at a fast food restaurant. We look for large stores where we can walk around, stretch, use the restroom and get a little break from each other while we all wander around. We often stop at Walmart, Cabela’s, or Sam’s Club to help us stretch and get ready for the next leg of our trip.
My daughter and I get pretty competitive with our step count using our FitBit Chargers! So, these stretch breaks are a great way for us to keep our competitive spirit working and motivate us to walk as much as possible during our stretch breaks!
Teach Map Skills:
Whether you are driving down the interstate, exploring back roads or navigating the Washington DC Metro, everyone needs to understand how to read a map. We use a GPS in the van but we also keep an atlas. We want to make sure the teens know how to get around in their world.
Do you take family vacations with teens? Got any tips to help you survive and still like each other when you return? I’d love to hear!