Living with teenagers is like living with Jekyll and Hyde. You never know which one is going to show up when they greet you in the morning.
Travelling with a teenager gets even more interesting.
Here’s the thing: I love travelling with Nat.
We’ve been traveling together since she was a baby, so we’ve got our travel groove down. We’ve worked out our needs and wants as we travel, so we can accommodate each other. Even since Rich came along, she have I have continued taking girly getaways over the years.
As Nat has gotten older, her needs have changed.
She’s gone from the blissful days of travelling with Mum and looking forward to Secret Backpack, to Internet access being an absolute requirement.
Her music tastes have shifted from Miley Cyrus’ Disney days and Justin Bieber (she’s going to kill me for those references!) to Black Veil Brides (guttural rock) then now on to All Time Low, Green Day and 5 Seconds of Summer.
Now she’s Miss Independent, traipsing off with friends who have their drivers license.
My days are well and truly numbered. We have a year left before she finishes high school and begins her own adventure.
So, what do I do?
I know the days I can hang out with her are limited. She’s truly a great person and the best times we’ve had in our lives have been our getaways so, that what’s I do – I plan a getaway.
While we are away I know there’s a good chance she’ll be hormonal, with Jekyll unleashed at some point. I’ll get the eye rolls and huffing and puffing, you know, attitude. With a little patience (and chocolate), I’ll coax Hyde to come to the forefront so I have my dream child once again.
So how do I accommodate for the potential mood swings and still keep my own sanity? I plan, of course!
Pack Distractions. I’m lucky. Nat is happy to have her head in a book for hours on end. But what if the book sucks?
That’s when movies and games on an iPad come in handy. Actually, that works great for both of us. When she’s sick of listening to my music in the car, the headphones are always available. And of course, there is always the aforementioned chocolate bribe. (That works for both of us too!)
Make a plan to connect to Social Media. It’s hard to get away from social, especially when you have friends/family all over the world, not to mention our fabulous readers. But to keep a teenager sane and happy, we make sure to allow for social media when we travel.
Australia isn’t the best for remote Internet connections, so when we plan a getaway, we look and see where there is Wifi or Internet available. Sometimes it’s offered at our accommodation. Sometimes it’s in a café which we then combine with a caffeine fix. Sometimes it’s in a McDonald’s parking lot along the way!
While we don’t let this take over our time, we make a point to give it a little of our time. Allowing the connection with friends on the road keeps Jekyll at bay.
I get Natalie involved in the planning. This starts at the beginning of every trip. What are we up for? Camping? Cabin? Something more elaborate? Once that’s determined, I have Nat research and sometimes even book the trip (great life lesson!). Then we look at our route and plan out what we’d like to explore along the way. By getting her involved, she’s more invested, more excited about the adventure. When it comes time to packing up and getting into the car, she’s all in.
Trade off. Getting back to how I deal with a hormonal teen…When planning the trip, we may not have the same mindset of how the trip will go, so we talk through our expectations.
When we’re planning, we trade off. I pick something I want and then she does too. Everyone’s needs and expectations are met. Feeling like she has some say in what we do gives her a sense of control and a feeling of empowerment. She gains confidence in making decisions for herself. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that if she goes into a tizzy, I can remind her of the choices SHE made – and yes, vice versa!)