Let your teen make some important decisions.
Have your teen research possible destinations and activities for the family. Let them have a say in where you are going and/ or what you will be doing. This will make your teen more responsible and they will take ownership of the family vacation. They will be more likely to enjoy the trip.
If you already know where you are going, let your teen plan out one day or set up an itinerary for the family. Give them resources to help them make decisions. The hard part for parents will be committing to do whatever your teen has chosen. Discuss the itinerary together. You may have to help them work out certain things like transportation and managing time from one place to another, etc.
These are some helpful resources:
Teach your teen responsibility by giving them their own money to spend.
Every family needs to make a vacation budget. This is the perfect time to talk to your teen about how to manage money and allow them the chance to practice on their own. When planning the trip your teen can note how they want to spend their money and how much each item on their list will cost. Have them subtract these things from their total. If they have money left over help them decide how they could spend but don’t tell them how to spend it. If they are over budget guide them on how adjust their plan so that they can stay in budget.
Make your teen responsible for his/her own personal stuff.
Guide your teen in making a packing list of everything they need and want to bring on vacation. They can write it down on paper or use their phone to make a check list. Some great apps for this are Evernote and Asana. Also, the reminders app on the iphone can do this too. Look over their list with them and suggest anything you think they should add. Discuss what kind of luggage to take and predict how long packing will take.
Set expectations and rules before you leave.
Clear communication is important before you leave so that the whole family can have fun and create wonderful memories. To make sure that your vacation goes as planned talk to your teen about your expectations of their behavior. Have a family meeting or talk about it over dinner before you go. Let everyone have input.
Is your teen allowed to go off on their own? If yes, when and where?
Does your teen have a curfew?
What time will everyone need to be ready to go each day?
Family rules such as no fighting, cursing, drinking, smoking, etc.
No one is perfect, but express that you hope everyone understands that the rules are in place to ensure that the whole family has a great vacation.
Let your teen take the wheel.
We learn a tremendous amount from our experiences. If your teen has his/ her license let them drive. This a great chance for them to practice their driving skills.
Address any conflicts.
If there is an argument between anyone, your teen and you or a sibling, discuss it right away. Get to the heart of the matter and don’t dwell on it. You are on vacation and don’t want to waste time being mad or having anyone in the family mad at each other.
Allow a friend to tag along.
This can be a great opportunity to get to know one of your teen’s friends. Talk to their friend’s parents beforehand so everyone is comfortable. Exchange contact info and give the friend’s parents an itinerary. Be clear about expectations for the trip. The two teens may want to go off on their own. Express the importance of the rules and communication.
Have fun and make some wonderful memories.
Enjoy your time together as a family. Take lots of pictures and enjoy each other’s company. Keep a joint journal of your experiences with your teen. This could be online or written. When you return your pictures and journal would make a nice keepsake. You could put it all together in a book printed through Shutterfly or some other company.