Ah, family vacations. Something you look forward to each and every year. They can be really wonderful and filled with lifelong memories that are talked about for years to come. They can also be a bit challenging. Getting everyone together and keeping everyone happy while away on your Indian Rocks Beach, Florida vacation can seem like a monumental task, especially if you have kids of differing ages and interests.
With each age comes both the joys and challenges of that phase of life, but the tween and teenage years are notorious for requiring a little extra effort (and patience) from you as the parent. This age can be tricky. You may need to give them a little bit of a nudge in the right direction as you establish your family vacation expectations and boundaries, but not too much that you come off as overbearing or controlling.
Connecting with your teenagers during a family vacation and keeping them engaged with the family unit is certainly attainable—and doesn’t have to be a battle. Here are our top tips to encourage connection with your tweens and teens, and ultimately all of your family for the best Florida Gulf Coast vacation together.
Ask your tweens and teens for vacation planning input.
The first step in getting your teen onboard with your family vacation is giving them an active role and a voice in the planning. Let them do some of the research when it comes to the local activities and things to do, and actively listen to what they have to say. This will give them a feeling of ownership, and it will give you insight into their travel and vacation interests, too.
Choose an Indian Rocks Beach vacation rental that works for your family.
The beauty of a vacation rental is that you get to choose the accommodations and amenities that are best suited for your family. There’s no cramming everyone into a hotel or motel room with limited bedrooms and bathrooms. Consider how best to delegate the bedrooms and bathrooms in your rental. Whether you prefer separate bedrooms for each of your tweens and teens, or if you want to pair them up in a way that works well for your family, the resulting dynamic will certainly impact your vacation. Choose wisely!
Don’t overdo the day of your arrival.
Traveling is exhausting! Don’t overplan your travel and arrival day. Everyone is most likely tired and a little grumpy, so it’s best to allow some transition time to get settled in and situated. Opt for laidback activities like getting something eat, taking a walk, or going for a relaxing swim in the pool.
Let your big kids sleep in, too.
As parents, we are all pretty tuned in to how much sleep our little ones need to function without meltdowns or moods. Sometimes we overlook the fact that our tweens and teens also need proper sleep (and a lot of it) to feel good and to function well.
Skip too many early morning outings and allow your bigger kids to sleep in and rest up. This is a vacation after all, so take full advantage of the freedom to do just that. Everyone will be happier!
Feed your teens well (and often).
The last thing you want on vacation is a “hangry” teenager. Their bodies and minds are constantly growing and changing. Food, and lots of it, is a necessity. Make sure your vacation rental kitchen is well-stocked with healthy snacks, quick and easy meal items, and plenty of water and other drinks. If you’re out and about, try a few of the local restaurants and eateries. Encourage your tweens and teens to expand their palates and try something new. We’d recommend some scrumptious Gulf Coast seafood!
Give your tweens and teens some free time.
A vacation is supposed to be a break from the daily grind of life. That holds true for your teens, too. It sounds like an oxymoron, but you need to pencil in some free time for your kids. Don’t make every vacation day so full of activities that it becomes burdensome or ends up being go, go, go all the time. Let your tweens and teens spend their downtime doing what they enjoy, and they’ll be happier, more responsive and engaged during the family activities that you have planned.
Let them wander and explore.
Depending on the age and maturity of your teens, when it’s safe to do so give them the freedom to wander and roam outside your watchful eye. This allows them the opportunity to explore their own interests and feeds the independence they crave. Establish and review vacation boundaries and family safety rules ahead of time, and then let go of the reins for a little while.
Plan exciting vacation activities.
Tweens and teens crave excitement! New adventures! As a family, plan for some adrenaline-inducing vacation activities that push the boundaries of your usual routine. Not only do they want to make some incredible memories, but teens also want to earn a few bragging rights with their friends.
Even if it’s not an activity you want to do, give them the opportunity to try something new and exciting on vacation while you watch from the sidelines. They’ll appreciate it.
Allow for screen time.
As parents, we sometimes have this ideal set in our heads of what a family vacation looks like. It’s where everyone in the family is happy and engaged with the quality time together and where no one even thinks about being on a device. While it would be nice to put all the electronic devices away for a week, imposing that on your tween or teen is not going to go over well. Limits on screen time are fine (and may be necessary), but allow your kids some time to connect with their friends, play their favorite games, or watch YouTube even while you’re on vacation. You have to pick your battles!
Let your teen plan a family night activity.
Tweens and teens naturally want more control and independence. Give them a proactive way to do that by putting them in charge of a family night activity. Whether it’s a DIY movie night in, cooking a meal in your vacation rental kitchen for the family, or researching and planning a local outing, this is the perfect opportunity to let your kids be in charge. As an added bonus, you’ll get a break!
Set a vacation spending budget together.
Spending money while on vacation, and spending it wisely, is not only something you want to do—but something your kids are going to want to do, as well. Work with your tweens and teens by setting up a vacation budget. Whether it’s for souvenirs, special treats, or random activities throughout the week, set spending limits and let your kids learn to manage their money. This will give a combined sense of autonomy and money-sense all at the same time.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP YOUR TWEENS AND TEENS INVOLVED IN YOUR FAMILY VACATION?
We want to know! We hope you found these tips helpful in planning your next family vacation on the Florida Gulf Coast.