From a Teen’s Perspective: Let’s talk traveling with family

by Dylan Lanier on February 27, 2023

This past week was Mid-Winter Break for Menlo-Atherton High School students like myself. And while some people enjoyed cozy stay-cations, many of us ventured beyond Menlo Park. After returning from a week abroad, I thought it would be fitting to share my take on travelling as a teenager, and hopefully provide some insight into what I think can make trips run smoother.

The first thing I always think about when going on vacation is possible interference with my schoolwork and extracurriculars. No matter what kind of student you are, missing school is never easy to make up unless you plan ahead.

Parents, make sure you let us know at least a week in advance what time and date we’re leaving, so we can take care of any tests, homework, or other commitments in advance. Trust me, it will not be a fun vacation if we get an F on our test because we didn’t realize we were leaving early that day.

As for the transportation to our respective destinations, we would love for you to read the room just a little more. We are so grateful that you’re taking us on these amazing vacations, but travel can be extremely tiring for everyone. So, while there are plenty of times we would love to chat, if our earbuds are in or our eyes are closed, please give us the time to recharge in peace.

Once on vacation, it’s important to remember that everyone has a different idea of “fun.” In my family, my dad and I love spending our days as active as possible. You can find us hiking, swimming, touring — that’s our way of relaxing.

However, my mom and my sister love reading, sitting by the pool, and decompressing in their own ways. But that doesn’t mean that both sides can only be satifisfied apart. It’s all about compromise. Each day, we would spend our mornings doing outdoors-y activities and our afternoons chilling in the shade with lighter recreation. This way, we got to spend time together and do what we love.

The worst way to ruin a day is with a “wild goose chase,” a phrase my family uses to describe the endless selection (and subsequent rejection) of restaurants at meal times. We finally had enough of hour-long walks passing by restaurant after restaurant in the hopes of some perfect spot, so we established a “grin and bear it” attitude. For each meal, we would locate a few possible eateries and just make a decision, preventing any further futile exploration. Occasionally, this method resulted in a doozy of a meal, but on the whole we still had lots of great food and spent way less time hungry.

Now, it wouldn’t be a conversation about teenagers unless I bring up the phones. Yes, I admit, my generation has a proclivity towards our devices that can make it hard for us to connect with family and experience our vacations to the fullest. It’s far too easy to endlessly scroll through pictures of everyone else’s amazing trips on social media and feel jealous. However, phones also allow us to talk to our friends while we’re away and take pictures of memorable moments. As such, it can be hard to find and implement the right balance for our screen time.

While every family can and should have unique guidelines, I would recommend allowing us to bring our phones along with us throughout the trip but monitoring how much we’re on it, especially when we could be paying attention to new and exciting experiences. Of course, taking photos on a jungle cruise is a lot different than scrolling through Instagram on a safari, and therefore each situation should be treated differently. Just be sure that we have enough distance from our digital world to realize how incredible the one outside our screens can be.

Overall, the key to a great vacation is communication. Us teenagers have plenty of opinions to share  — and not all of them are so bad. We want to have a successful trip as much as you do, so work with us and let’s talk about how to achieve that success. Does it mean more time to rest? More time outside? Trying a new activity we saw on social media that looks fun? Keep an open line with us so we can all connect and enjoy our vacation together!

Got any topics you’d like to explore from a teen perspective? Email with your request!

Photo is a stock phone; not Lanier family

One Comment

Grace Zales February 27, 2023 at 8:56 pm

This article is so well-written and useful. Thank you!

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