I’m a traveller at heart and pretty much don’t need a reason to travel. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited more than 100 cities world-wide. My best travels however are the ones with my kids. As seasoned travellers I thought I’d share a few tips for road tripping with teens.
Firstly, let’s keep it real for second … dealing with teens on any given day can be challenging, now throw in a mix of travel and we have a totally different ball game. My boys are 15 and 11 years old and can drive each other insane for no apparent reason, so putting them together in a confined space is asking for trouble.
Travel Tips 101
1. Separate them
Absolutely, totally not negotiable. Well thought through seating arrangements can make or break your road trip. Irrespective of the number of kids you have, its best to be strategic about who they are sitting next to. In our case, the boys have turns to sit in the front as my wingman.
2. Make it a learning experience
I use our road trips as a learning experience. Ashton will be getting his learners license next year so we have competitions to see who knows what the road signs mean. Older kids with a learner permit can take the wheel, giving you a break from the driving. Skylar is an excellent navigator and I let him set up the GPS or direct us by using the road signs. We chat about everything from nature to maths to historical info about the places we drive through. I’m never rushed when we road trip. It’s not about the destination but instead the journey.
3. Comfortable clothes
I know teens have there own sense of fashion and style but I encourage the boys to dress comfortably. I find that they are less irritable and it just makes for happy passengers. In other words, one less thing for them to sulk about. Layering is perfect for road trips because the weather can change suddenly.
4. Get Comfy
Always pack in pillows or neck cushions and blankets. Teens love and need their sleep. Poor sleep will result in a very unhappy teen upon waking, which could affect the mood for the rest of the road trip.
My boys hate sunscreen but it’s not negotiable for me. Road trips in the African heat (even in winter) can be harsh on ones skin. In fact you will always find sunscreen in my car.
6. Wet wipes / tissues / hand sanitizer
Don’t be fooled by their age, teens can be particularly messy so a surplus of wet wipes, tissues and hand sanitizer is essential. In the long run it will save your car and it will save you money.
7. Music playlist
I always put the kids in charge of the music playlist, because I know I’m going to get it brutally wrong even if I try my damndest. It’s also a great way to get them involved in the planning and actual road trip. They will be happier with a selection of their own.
8. All the electronics
I’m not a fan of taking electronics with us when we go away, but some degree of electronics helps make the road trip easier. We also use our getaways to get in a bit of a digital detox. We don’t take laptops, ipads or gaming consoles along, but cellphones are allowed. Make sure to pack in individual chargers so as to prevent arguments. Headphones are great especially if someone is asleep or just not in the mood to listen to anything or anyone else. Cameras are a great way to keep teens occupied, especially as they are all about the selfie life.
Electronics get ditched but books are allowed and welcomed. While some people get a bit of motion sickness when reading in a moving car, others love it. We pack them in either way as it’s a great before bed activity once we reach our final destination.
Teens will eat you out of house and home, so packing sufficient snacks is key. Pack in healthy snacks as opposed to sugary laced snacks which could result in unnecessary mood swings. Healthy snacks will also keep them motivated until you make a stop for food.
11. Make regular stops
Making regular stops is really necessary especially when road tripping with teens. The stops are not just for food or bathroom breaks, but to allow them to stretch and move. Teens are still kids and require downtime to be playful and goofy.
As my boys grow up oh so fast I cherish every moment spent with them (well when they not driving me crazy). Our regular road trips have allowed us to get to know each other better and to become more tolerant and understanding. We travel exceptionally well together and the more we travel, the more I’m reassured that they are ready to face the big world out there.