The Benefits of Family Vacations For Families with Teens
Teens look forward to school breaks with great enthusiasm. Sleeping late, no homework, hanging out with friends . . . all good! Parents can appreciate why their teens look forward to these rare opportunities, but, at least once annually, parents should plan a family vacation with their teens . . . and, by family vacation, we mean pack some bags, travel to some place not local, and stay a week or two. Here are some reasons that family vacations are good for teens.
- Bonding with family members. Daily life can be harried and hectic. By taking a time-out from the pace of your family’s normal routine, family members can spend quality time together, laughing, talking, connecting. Who knows? Maybe family members can even get to know each other a little better too! (Note: it’s important to build into each day of the vacation a little private time for each family member to avoid too much togetherness, which can cause the exact opposite of the desired outcome . . . yelling rather than talking, no laughing, and disconnecting rather than bonding.)
- Getting rest, relaxation, and decompression from the daily stressors associated with school. This is important so that teens can embrace the next semester with a positive mindset, without study-fatigue or burnout.
- Getting out of the routine, maybe even out of the comfort zone. This can not only broaden teens’ perspectives, it can, on occasion, totally reshape teens’ interests, paradigms, and career goals.
- Learning about other communities, states, countries. What is the history of the locale and its people? What language(s) do they speak? If they speak a foreign language, encourage your teens to learn that language/those languages at least well enough to communicate as a tourist . . . for example, being able to ask your Roman taxi driver to take you to “Foro Romano” rather than “the Roman Forum”, saying “prego” rather than “please” and “grazie” rather than “thank you.” Also encourage your kids to try different foods and listen to different kinds of music. Seek to understand the culture of the locale. (Note: the culture doesn’t need to be foreign to be different. The United States is large enough that there is cultural diversity within our country. For example, teens who live in, say, Ann Arbor, Michigan, will notice cultural differences when they are on vacation in New Orleans, Louisiana. Such a vacation can provide the tourist teens with the opportunity to learn about Creole and Cajun influences in the region, try shrimp gumbo, listen to zydeco, and pronounce the city’s name as the natives do, “Nawlins”.) We live in a world with an increasingly global perspective. Exposing our teens to other locales enriches their minds, broadens their perspectives, and can even aid their ultimate career opportunities. Additionally, they just may learn something about themselves as they are busy learning about others.
- Learning about natural environments not available in their home community and the wildlife that thrives in those environments. For example, what is the difference in the feel of the air between the teens’ “flatlander”, landlocked home community and the mountainous coastal destination? Why does that difference exist? How does it affect your teens’ breathing when they exert themselves? How does it affect their hair and skin after several days in the destination location? How did the geology form as it did? How have the animals and plants adapted to their environment?
- Having fun! (This one was obvious, wasn’t it?)
There are many benefits of family vacations for families with teens. May you and your teens travel often and well! Bon voyage!