Last Updated on by Lohanna Reis
When it comes to holidays, it can sometimes be tricky to know how much freedom to give teenagers. On the one hand you want them to get the most out of the experience, while on the other hand you don’t want to risk their safety, particularly in new, unfamiliar surroundings.
It’s important to strike the right balance between offering them freedom and ensuring their safety, but that can often be easier said than done. Far too often, parents and teens have differing ideas about what ‘freedom’ means – which can lead to conflict, rather than the relaxing break that you might have had in mind.
To lend a helping hand, we’ve brought together three top tips to help parents navigate this common issue, to help you enjoy a stress-free family break.
Establish Rules Before You Go
Establishing rules with your teenagers can be a difficult task when going on holiday, but it is essential to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable trip. Rather than dictating the rules to them, try and keep this conversation friendly and be open to listening to your teen as well.
Firstly, explain why it is important to have certain regulations in place, or how being flexible and understanding each other’s needs can help build trust. If there are any disputes about the rules, focus on reaching an agreement and finding a compromise that both of you can agree upon – their input also matters.
Rules on holiday can focus around things like curfews, where they can go, and non-negotiables such as having a meal together once a day. A good way to find a balance is to let teens set their own schedules within reasonable limits.
Let them decide when they wake up and when they plan activities, but make sure that they’re aware of any time limits and constraints such as curfew or designated family time. This will help them feel that you trust them to make positive decisions, whilst also allowing you to get some treasured holiday time together.
Additionally, this can provide them with the opportunity to enjoy some freedom to explore a new place on their own accord, whilst also giving you some reassurance that they will be safe and follow your instructions. Remember that setting boundaries does not mean not having fun – it just means agreeing on what is acceptable behaviour to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Talk to Them About What They Should do If They Feel Unsafe
Travelling can be a wonderful experience, and it is natural for your teens to want to explore the places and cultures around them. No matter how exciting, however, it is important to talk to them about safety precautions and what they should do in certain situations – particularly if they ever feel unsafe or uncomfortable when on holiday.
Remind your teens that their safety should always come first, and that they have the right to say ‘no’ whenever they feel uncomfortable with something.
Crucially, you should provide them with contact information of people they can reach out to if needed, such as family members, tourist authorities, local police, or family friends in the country they’re visiting, who can help support them in any situation.
If your teen has their own phone, ensure that they have these important numbers stored before you depart. And if they are venturing out alone or with their siblings for any period of time, ask them to make sure their phone is charged, and to keep it on them at all times, safely stored out of sight.
Ask Them to Get Involved With the Planning Process
Planning a holiday can be stressful at the best of times. But the benefits of getting your kids involved in the process are two-fold. Enlisting their support can help turn your stress into excitement as you create your holiday itinerary, taking some of the pressure off of your shoulders. It will also ensure their voice is heard and they have a strong influence over the itinerary, and this freedom to choose their own activities will be appreciated.
Ask them to bring up ideas on activities that they would be interested in, giving them room for creativity and flexibility. Teenagers often bring a fresh perspective which can help uncover some great locales! Not only will it help make your holiday planning easier, but it will also be beneficial for everyone to have some fun time together.
Giving Them Their Own Spending Money
When on holiday, financial freedom can be valued just as much as physical freedom by teenagers who are craving a sense of independence. Of course, you don’t want them wandering around with large sums of cash on them. But giving them a budget and allowing them to spend it on souvenirs or holiday activities (within reason) is another way you can offer a level of freedom whilst remaining in control.
Prepaid travel cards can be a great way to ensure that you’re in control of their spending, but they don’t have to keep coming to you to ask for money. You could even open one of these accounts a few months before you go, so that your teen can deposit any money from weekend jobs or birthdays into the account. Not only does this give them a bit more to spend, but it will also teach them the importance of saving for bigger goals.
It’s All About Compromise
Giving teenagers freedom to enjoy themselves safely is all about compromise. Having a positive conversation around guidelines and rules before you travel means that teens can feel like they have the ability to make their own decisions, but you’ll be more comfortable knowing that they’re following your boundaries.
Placing trust in your teen will hopefully be rewarded, as they’ll be more likely to listen to your requests, and everyone can enjoy a fun, safe family holiday together.
Planning your next trip?