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Family holidays with teenagers. Rejoice! They no longer need to be kept on a tight leash, while you follow their every move with wet wipes and trepidation.
Unfortunately, they might no longer want you there at all. Yep, teenagers don't like family holidays. Teenagers like Wi-Fi and bezzy mates. But don't worry, with a little bit of perseverance, adaption and patience, you can survive (read as enjoy) a relatively painless (read as enjoyable) family holiday together...
1. Avoid boredom at all costs
Find resorts with an abundance of activities laid on. Plenty offer more than just a swimming pool.
2. Provide ready-made friends
Aim for somewhere with a ready supply of guests their own age. A cottage in the UK’s Lake District is unlikely to tick this box, but family apartments on the GC should.
3. Know what's "cool"
If you’re hell-bent on a city experience, pick a cool one. New York, London and Dubai will all win you parent points, whereas Tassie’s Hobart (albeit very interesting for us older folk) will only score you eye rolls.
4. Seek niche
Similarly, far flung and exotic wins respect in the school yard. Japan for example, is the cutting-edge king pin of all things techy and digital. One word. Robots. Enough said.
5. Appeal to their interests
We’re lucky enough to have short haul surf centres on the doorstep. Fine tune your skills or learn to surf on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. Plus it’s a high energy sport – exhaust them!
6. Invite another family
Consider a villa with friends that have kids a similar age to your own, but double check they all get along before booking.
7. Wi-Fi is life
Don't for one second allow the Wi-Fi to be dodgy, or heaven forbid, obsolete. Unlike you and I, these kids were born in the digital age and they don’t know any different. You won’t want them glued to Snapchat, but take away their ‘oxygen’ and everyone suffers.
8. Find activities everyone enjoys
Finding an activity you can all do as a family, and that your teens actually enjoy, is difficult, but many places do cater for multi generations. Consider:
1. Theme parks: Thrill roller coasters for them, themed beer gardens and dining venues for yourself.
2. Water parks: Many of these have spa facilities as well. Perfect for a three hour parent pamper.
3. Cruises: With anything from zip lining and ‘no adult’ zones, to cooking classes and adults-only cabanas, you can all do your own thing.
4. Malls: Especially in Dubai. Entertainment complexes all under one roof. Mum can shop, dad can check out the aquarium, sis can ice-skate and brother can fly an Emirates A380 in the flight simulator. Reconvene for lunch.
9. Set some holiday goals
Every family member can participate in setting them (and each other’s for a good laugh), but don’t set too many at once. You could suggest they get their PADI dive certificate by the end of the holiday. Budding writer in the clan? Help set them up a holiday blog to write while away.
10. Create a 'kids decide' family night
And allow the younger members decide what you’re all doing for at least one night/day of the holiday. Losing a little control - and increasing theirs - makes teenagers very happy, trust us.
11. Power shifts are key
Same with dining. Let them choose the venue at least once. Yes, you might end up in the Pizza Hut next door to Naples’ best Italian, but you might also be surprised.
12. Show encouragement
Rather than show disappointment because they couldn't give two shakes about the Prado Museum, make it obvious how much you're impressed by their eagerness to brag about Madrid via Instagram. Coax out their inner-photography skills.
13. Let teenagers be teenagers
Yes you’ll worry, no they won’t understand why (give it another 15 years until they have their own and THEN you can throw “I told you so” in their face). Teenagers are often driven by adrenalin. They’re going to want to go on the wildest ride, dive with scary sharks, drive all the Ferraris in Monaco... and you might just have to let them.
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