Travelling with teens is often an exercise in frustration. They’re in the “I’m bored” years where they’re too busy being cool to get excited, and even when we visit the Gold Coast, my 14-year-old daughter barely raises an eyebrow. She no longer runs around excitedly when we arrive at one of our usual Gold Coast holiday rentals, but instead is more likely to be texting friends. What’s a parent to do?
Even older kids are more likely to feel enthusiastic about a holiday when they have some say in the planning. For instance, letting them help choose your Gold Coast accommodation, or plan one of your days out, can help them feel like they have something to contribute.
For younger children it’s usually easier to take care of the packing yourself (because they’re going to leave their toothbrushes behind “accidentally” if at all possible) but letting your teens pack for themselves helps them feel like they have a bit more say in the whole exercise. Let them know they have the responsibility for making sure they have all the things they need and they’ll likely take it seriously.
One source of frustration for me is seeing my daughter glued to her phone so often, even when we’re on holiday. We’ve dealt with this by giving her plenty of designated screen time—for instance whenever we’re in transit she’s free to stare at the screen as much as she likes—and by trying to ensure the activities we do as a family are things that everyone enjoys.
Younger kids tend to want to be occupied as much as possible and it can be difficult to get them to slow down. But teenagers start to develop a need for their own space and some down time where they’re not constantly rushing around doing. So planning for one or two lazy days can help them get the space they need. Also, expect that they’re going to want to abandon the rest of the family at every opportunity. It’s hard not to take it personally, but it’s a normal part of growing up for every child. They’ll welcome a chance to explore on their own, find out what they like about the city, and develop their own tastes.