My husband and I have been through this routine for 17 summers now. It is to the point that I can't recall what vacations were like before we had kids. (Haven't we always had kids? I can't remember. Raising kids has wiped out that part of my memory.)
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However, I do remember the early days of diaper bags, car seats, strollers, playpens, bottles, four changes of clothes for each day, etc., etc.
There was just enough room in the van for us to sit.
I have to admit that traveling with teenagers is so much easier than traveling with toddlers.
What does a teenager need to have a successful vacation? About five things:
1. Bathing suit
5. Cell phone
Although, a certain 13-year-old in our household never really outgrew the "need" for four changes of clothes each day. A teen girl needs to be prepared for every situation, after all.
In addition to packing less — minus the clothes — traveling with teens is a blessing because they pack their own belongings.
They would never allow Mom or Dad to pack their clothes. We probably would include all the wrong things. Then they'd have to wear the outfits we put together. Oh, how horrid.
Packing snacks for teens is much easier, too. While toddlers can only eat certain foods, teens eat anything, everything and lots of it. I pack a cooler of fruits and veggies so my teens fill up on food that is good for them.
Salty foods, such as pretzels and chips, increase thirst. Increased thirst leads to more trips to the bathroom, which adds more pit stops along the way.
Additional pit stops mess up Dad's plan to reach the destination at whatever time he has in mind. This time is not always shared with the rest of the family, not until an extra stop throws a monkey wrench into the unknown schedule. Then we find out that we messed up the plan.
Oh, well. What would a family vacation be if there weren't unexpected things happening along the way?
The most challenging thing about planning a vacation with teenagers is the planning part. When should we go? Toddlers are ready to go whenever their parents put them in the car. Teens are ready to go when there isn't a sports camp, summer league game, summer college class, teen leadership conference, and on and on.
When I was a teenager, I spent my summers working part-time and lounging by the pool the rest of the time. For most teens, those summers are ones of ancient history.
Today, colleges want to know how teens spent the summer between their junior and senior years of high school.
Was it productive? What did you learn? What did you achieve?
Gee. I was just hoping to build a sandcastle one last time.
If it is a really incredible structure, wouldn't that suffice as a productive achievement for a future engineer?
This mom says so.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at email@example.com.