How to Get Teens Onboard for Your RV Travels
As teenagers enter the time in life when they start pulling away from family to spend more time with friends, RVing can be a great way to stay connected. However, if you want your teenager to engage in your travels, you should be mindful of their lives and preferences.
We started RVing when our sons were 11 and 14. Over the next few years, they grew a lot taller, got involved in school activities, started their first jobs, and then one of our sons went off to college. These changes in their lives affected many aspects of our travels! However, we continued to look for ways to keep them involved without giving up on our travel dreams.
Here are 11 tips for traveling with your teens:
1) Include teens in the RV travel process
The best way to keep your kids engaged is to let them be part of the planning process. Find out what locations and activities interest them. Show them a few options of destinations or attractions to see what looks fun. Even if they aren’t your favorite, adding theme parks to your itinerary might provide a teen-friendly adventure.
2) Be mindful of their schedules
School activities, jobs, and social events all fill the nights and weekends for most teens. Family should be a priority, but that doesn’t mean you can disregard your child’s life. We have been willing to leave our sons at home if they have big plans, but we’ve also made sure to take plenty of trips together.
3) It’s okay to leave them behind
Whether they stay with friends and family or are mature enough to stay at home alone, teenagers don’t have to go on every trip with you. This is bittersweet for our family because I want my boys to share our experiences, but I also can’t stop traveling just because their schedules are packed. Also, once you embrace this fact, you just might enjoy traveling alone, with your spouse, or with friends!
4) Shorter trips may be easier to manage
While I love a long three-to-four-week cross-country adventure, these are difficult to plan with our young adult sons, especially with one in college. I’ve learned that I can more easily lure them along when our trips are shorter. Plan the occasional weekend trip for a burst of togetherness.
5) Encourage them to bring a friend
Allowing teens to bring their friends along can make your travels more fun for them, especially if their friends are having fun. Book campgrounds that allow you to pitch a tent beside your RV if you want to give the kids their own space.
6) Don’t cut off their social connections
Yes, we all know some people believe camping is a sacred time where there should be no technology. I can’t think of a better way to make your teenagers dislike traveling than taking a hardline to technology. The better way is to strive for balance. Build tech-free times into your days, but don’t gripe about the tech during other times. This allows your teen to stay connected while enjoying time with family. We also don’t book campsites at locations with no cell service because everyone will be miserable.
7) Don’t let their negativity get you down
Teenagers aren’t supposed to like what their parents like—this has been true ever since the invention of the word “teenager.” Some grumbling and eye-rolling is to be expected, but you can choose to ignore it, as long as your kid isn’t being outright rude.
8) Add adventure
Teenagers enjoy some novelty, so try new things on your travels, whether it be in sampling local foods or participating in new activities. While I love nothing more than gazing at beautiful views while hiking in a national park, my sons craved bigger thrills, so we added whitewater rafting and ziplining to our last RV adventure to Colorado.
9) Use your RV in new ways
While traditional camping trips may be how you usually use your RV, don’t be afraid to do something new with your teenager. Maybe you can go tailgating at a major sports event, travel to a concert, or take a college tour road trip.
10) Use RVing to help them learn about the world
RVing is a great way to experience new cultures and to learn about history and geography. You can bring their academic studies to life by connecting with real-life locations.
11) Remember that this is one phase in life
As you kids grow out of the teenage phase and become young adults, they may hopefully see the joys in your travels. However, it can be even harder to travel with them at that stage, if they leave for college or the military, start a family, or have school/work commitments. However, someday, you may get to take them on more RV adventures — and you may even have grandchildren to join in on the fun.
Hopefully, these tips will help you and your teens have happy travels! We are always balancing each family member’s school, work, and life commitments, as well as everyone’s personal interests. But, if you keep working at it, you can still enjoy some time around the campfire as a family.