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Persuading teens to take a road trip can be a hard sell. You have to overcome their fears of being cramped in a car, cut off from friends, and at the mercy of parental decisions. Two Orbitz moms have found some unique ways to give their teens independence while still promoting family togetherness.

From Donna Mulligan, full-time working mom to 3 hockey players:

Although I admit this is not very “green” conscious of us, we have resigned ourselves to the fact that taking two cars on the family vacation is a better option.

Taking a long car ride with 3 teen-age boys (ages 13, 16, 18) in the back –- none of whom wants the middle seat -– leaves everyone tense by the time we arrive, which isn’t a good start to a weeklong retreat.

With two cars, everyone arrives excited and happy. My boys have their own wheels to explore on their own, and my husband and I don’t feel guilty dining without them.

I would never have guessed these would be my words a mere five years ago, when the boys were 8, 11 and 13. But as the boys grow, it’s important we provide them with a bit of independence, while not compromising the family vacation altogether.

From Liz Robertson, full-time working mom to a 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter:

With all the distractions in a teen’s life, it becomes more of a challenge to get them excited about a family vacation. But you may be down to the last few summers you’ll have together before college and work obligations take precedence, so it’s worth pursuing!

Taking teens on the road can be a fun experience for all, if you have a different perspective then when you were planning trips for younger children. Here’s what I do:

  • Involve them in planning the road trip and ask for their input on possible destinations along the way and how far to go each day. Most teens like to have some influence in the decision making and can learn from negotiating toward a plan that works for all.
  • Give them opportunities to stay in touch with friends. For most teens, their friends play an important role in their lives, even when they are away. But being on a family road trip doesn’t mean they have to be out of the loop. They can stay in touch via their cell phone or text messages, if they’d rather not have the rest of the family hear the conversation.
  • Make use of the rest stops along the way. Many rest stops now provide wireless Internet, so if you have a laptop or any other wireless browser device, your teen can catch up on e-mail, MySpace or Facebook.
  • Given enough notice, teens can usually find things to bring along that will entertain them for the long stretches on the road. MP3 players are great for this, especially ones that have the capacity to download and watch video content. If your teens feel like they are in control of their own entertainment, they will be happier to spend those hours in the car.
  • Consider offering to take along one of your teen’s friends, so he/she has built-in company. Also, it will give you as a parent a chance to get to know one of your teen’s friends — someone who probably has some influence over his/her life.
  • Rejoice in the factthat teens are old enough to understand the overall plan and how long the trip is, so you can avoid the constant chorus of, “Are we there yet?”

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Tagged: Family time

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