Consider trips that appeal to their interests -- do they want to learn how to surf, sail, ride horseback, learn about the Navajo Nation or dig for artifacts? A friend of mine in New York, Jo Yohay, told me a story about an adventure she shared with her teenage son, a budding backpacker and naturalist: "We signed on as volunteers for an expedition to study monkeys on the island of Grenada in the Caribbean. Wearing hiking boots and field pants, we flew south alongside straw-hatted sun seekers on their way to beach bungalows. Our destination: a dorm-style field station where we'd sleep in bunks and wash out muddy socks in a worn-out sink. What I loved was the chance it offered us to be equals -- not in the usual parent-child context but as team members, ready to roll up our sleeves and learn side by side."
Like Jo, you can tailor your vacation to your teen's interests or to who your teen is becoming. For example, if your teen is interested in marine life, get certified together and go on a scuba-diving trip. Make it a surprise graduation present from middle or high school. Kids can get certified starting at age 12.
Burn Those Calories
Teens need to burn calories! Boisterous, hormone-driven kids thrive on daily physical activity. Sports-oriented vacations channel your teens' abundant energy and provide opportunities to acquire outdoor skills, make new friends and build self-confidence. Amazing things happen on active vacations: Mom learns to belay while the kids learn to rappel, or the whole family bikes together, until the big hill leading to the pass, and then the kids will leave the "old people" in the dust ... unless you and your spouse are in fantastic shape (keeping up with the kids can be the incentive for going to the gym before a family vacation!).