We’re currently on the road traveling the world with our teenagers, Ian (19) and Lily (16) and tackling the myths out there about why you wouldn’t want to travel with your darling, albeit sassy and sarcastic, teenage children. Last month we debunked family travel myth #1 – you have to be rich to travel with your family. And this month we are taking on the rocky road of the teenager/parent relationship!
One thing that thoroughly astounded us when we told people about this trip, was how many people asked us if we were taking the kids with us. Why would we possibly leave them at home as opposed to sharing all of the wondrous sights, landscapes, food and culture with them!?!?! I can’t imagine this trip without them! I can’t decide if this question comes from parents not wanting to hang out with their teens or the perception that teens don’t want to hang out with their parents, but either way, I am calling complete BS on it.
In tackling family travel myth #2 – Teenagers don’t want to leave their friends and their social lives behind to travel with their parents – I thought it might be nice to interview the kids about their thoughts and feelings about the trip and family travel, in general, and share their perspectives with you.
What did you think when I first proposed the idea of traveling around the world?
Ian: It was a crazy idea, but I just kinda went along with it.
Lily: At first I didn’t think it would actually happen and then after that I thought you had lost your ever-lovin’ mind.
At what point in the planning process did you start to get excited about the trip?
Ian: Like a month before we left was when I just got to the point where this was really happening and we were actually leaving.
Lily: Maybe six months. That’s when it started to feel real.
What were your biggest concerns about the trip before we left? Why?
Ian: Money because we didn’t know if we would have enough money to go as long as we wanted.
Lily: School. Just being able to get stuff done on the road. In terms of the trip, I was worried about how we were going to carry all of the stuff we were taking.
What did your friends think about the trip?
Ian: They all thought it was cool, but they were concerned about how we would spend so much time together without wanting to kill each other.
Lily: Some people were baffled by it, but my friends were supportive and their biggest concern was what they were going to do for a year without me there.
What have you learned about your family from this trip?
Ian: I was surprised that mom and Lily did so well on the mountain and made it through to the end. I learned that they were tougher than I thought they were.
Lily: We’re badass. We’ve gone through some really stressful moments, I feel like we have pulled through it as a family and I’m not sure we would have been able to pull through it without each other like if it was just me and Ian.
What is your least favorite part of traveling as a family?
Ian: There’s a lot of stuff that we get worked up about that we don’t need to. Like getting visas. We’ve gotten better since Turkey, but there’s still stuff that seems ridiculous to worry about that we still do. (He means mom here.)
Lily: I don’t have my own space, it’s our space and that means I have to clean up after myself more.
What is your favorite part about traveling together as a family?
Ian: That we don’t have to see these places alone – these cool, amazing things that we are seeing.
Lily: That our relationships with each other have gotten healthier because our lives don’t seem so separate so our stresses don’t seem so separate and that pulls us together more.
What advice would you give to teenagers about traveling with their parents?
Ian: It’s not as bad as you think it is going to be. It’s not going to be terrible to be hanging out with your parents. It will be what you make it so if you think you are going to have a terrible time you will and if you think that it will be a good time, then you will.
Lily: You are not going to be independent when traveling with your parents no matter how much you think you are. There are going to be things that happen that you are just going to want to hold your parent’s hand and you need to be ok with that. The people you travel with are what makes the experience unique. If you traveled with other people, you would have completely different experiences and memories.
What advice would you give to parents thinking about taking this kind of trip with their teenagers?
Ian: Let your kids be part of the planning process and involve them as much as possible in making decisions.
Lily: Save surprises for your kids. Don’t let them look up everything you will see online so that they can have the experience of seeing things for the first time. Also, don’t expect them to click into it right away. Don’t try to force them to like everything, let them experience it in their own way.
What has been your favorite experience and why?
Ian: Petting tigers in Thailand. It was really cool to see them up close and learn about how they aren’t declawed and just being able to be in the cages with them and watch them play.
Lily: The cooking school in Chiang Mai because I really like to cook, but I know limited stuff so it was fun to learn new things to cook and succeed at it.
What do you miss from home?
Ian: The level of social interaction at home like going out to dinner with friends and going to game night. I didn’t expect that to be as hard as it has been sometimes.
Lily: I miss knowing what to buy in the grocery store. Like the whole milk debacle in Turkey. We bought milk three times and never got the right kind of milk!!
How do you think this trip has influenced you?
Ian: It has made me want to travel more and not just stay in one place.
Lily: I am more resilient than I thought I was and I like traveling, but I miss the comforts of home. I never thought that would be something that resonated so strongly with me. I mean sometimes people just need some hot chocolate or a freaking brownie or anything else that reminds them of home.
Next time we’ll take a look at family travel myth #3 – I’ll have to home school my kids if we take them on extended travel! I know. The thought made me want to drink, too. I mean, there is just no way I am going to succeed at homeschooling my kids in Chemistry or Calculus. There is no end to the tears and frustration in that scenario. And the kids would probably be upset too. Never fear, my friends, there are other options!!
About Staci Schwarz
Staci and her family are currently traveling the world for several months enjoying good food, incredible sites and the best of company. You can follow their madness on www.blameitonmywildheart.com or on Facebook at Blame My Wild Heart.
Next month Staci will explore family travel myth #2 by interviewing her children to assure you that they were actually totally excited about this trip and are not being held hostage by their super mean parents who tore them away from their friends to go on a stupid trip around the world.