Traveling with teens in any capacity starts to get harder and harder with their busy schedules in high school or college and is very different than when they were little ones. They are young adults and their time is important. Whether studying for that big test; not being able to miss school because of a presentation or standardized testing; or most importantly, that big sporting event or party, they are preoccupied.
As parents, we need to be aware that these are all very important events in the life of teens and be sensitive to their wishes and changing lives as well. Add spending 5 days watching 2000 people prepare to run around in spandex for a 14 hour day at an event they’ve probably been to multiple times and their mind is elsewehere…OMG really…
Here are my top 10 tips for traveling to triathlons with teens. While they’re geared for travel races, many can apply to local events and general travel, as well.
Pick the right locations
You do not have to pick exotic or beach locations to make your teen want to travel with you. The Woodlands for Ironman Texas or Tempe for Ironman Arizona, both make great locations to take teens. The best locations are those that you feel are safe for your teens to walk around alone and have places to hang out near by. Buffalo Springs 70.3 probably would not be a great race to take teens to, but any Challenge Family race is great!
Give your teen some freedom
Once you pick the right location, you will be able to give them freedom. Set the boundaries as to where they can and cannot go and times they need to check in or meet you.
Set up a good communication plan
Make sure your teens have cell phones. When traveling abroad, have a plan as to phone service. We all have phones with global calling plans and activate them with only the cell service roaming, saving our data plan. There are certain countries like South Africa where picking up a rental phone for the area is not only more cost effective, but also provides better service. There are many races like Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico, where the cell service was extremely sketchy, so we used a set place to meet with times. When the race location is near a hotel with wifi, we love to use the What’sApp App for communication and set up a group chat.
Have them invite a friend
We have twins, so often they are both with us and they have a built in friend to hang with. But, when only one travels with us, we always ask them if they would like a friend to join them. This is both for them to have someone to hang with, but more importantly, safety. I’m uncomfortable when either of the kids is alone, especially in a new city or foreign country. Having a friend is the best way to go.
Plan a family activity not related to the triathlon
Plan a half day or stay a day after the race to do something fun as a family. They traveled with you and spent a few days watching grown adults run around in spandex. The least you can do is take a day without triathlon and make it just about the family!
Carry snacks for them
NO KIDDING! They are young adults, I know, but they are still kids and they will melt down without nutrition. Not in the 2 year old throw themselves on the floor melt down way, but the moody teenager way, which can be way way worse.
Get them their own room
If you are able, give yourself a little extra room for everyone’s well being, including the triathlete’s. There is no need for the kids to be up super early or for the kids to have to be quiet in the evenings, if sharing a room. If you are not able to get two rooms, set up quiet times up front, so everyone knows the expectations.
Don’t make them do everything or go with you early race morning
Not much to say here except make plans. There is no need for the kids to have to be with you all the time; there is only so much spandex one person needs to see. We review the schedule ahead of time and decide what the family will do together and what the kids can go explore on their own or chill in the room. We never ask our twins to head out when we do for the start of the race. We ask them to be at swim-out at the expected time David will be emerging from the water. And, to be honest, most times, the race excitement sets in and they arrive earlier.
Set a budget for them
If your teens will be spending some time in the city wandering, going to local attractions, shopping, or visiting an amusement park, make sure you set the expectations clearly on spending money. And, remember, if they are not eating with you to include money for food.
Respect them as young adults
This is the most important part if you want to keep them traveling with you. They are developing their own lives now and we, as parents, have to understand and respect this fact, no matter how hard it is on us! They need their space and need to know you trust them. This is a great opportunity for you to give them the space to safely explore without you, in a location of your choice.
So, there you have my top 10 tips. Traveling with teens is very different for me than with kids in tow. Set yourselves and your teens up for success, so you not only all have a blast, but you generate valuable family bonding time. Take advantage of the time together and with the right amount of respect and space going both ways, I have found they will say yes the next time you ask them if they’d like to join you for a weekend getaway.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR TRAVELING WITH TEENS?
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.