Monday, April 14, 2014

Traveling with Teenagers

It's not as bad as you think.

Yes, they are still surly at times.  Yes, they still want to eat all the time.  Post things to their friends on line all the time.  But for the most part, they are fun, open to adventures and different things to do.  Open to seeing new things.  No, they don't want to go to the "boring stuff", but that's okay - some things in life, you just have to do.

Many of my friends are about to send their kids on trips without them.  It will be my kids turn soon, but this is what I would recommend:  (if you go with or without them)

  • Don't let them know their phones will work internationally.  Only on wifi.  (And if they do discover this will still work - they must pay for it).  You can find wifi at coffee shops.
  • There are "SIM" cards for purchase in most European countries - meaning your phone will work locally (and data) with only the cost of the SIM card
  • Make SURE the credit card/debit card you/them take has a "chip" on it - many machines will only accept the ones with the chip. (I wish I had known this)  
  • Wrap that credit card with the chip in it in foil - there are scanners people carry around hoping to get a "read"
  • Don't carry your phone or wallet in your pocket - you are in big cities.  Just like in the United States - be safe.
  • If you have a backpack, tie the zippers together.
  • The ATM's will have the best exchange rate.  Have them use their credit/debit card to get money.
  • Take some basic snack food with you - I packed individual packs of peanut butter (great on bread and fruit and a good source of protein).  Protein Bars, crackers and peperoni
  • Sodas are expensive.  It is very common to pay 2 -3 euros for a "soda"  (3-4.5 dollars) - it truly is cheaper for them to drink beer and wine.  Break the soda habit now.
  • Let them map the routes on the metro.  Whom really cares if you feel like Alice in Wonderland for a bit.  You will get there.
  • Walk to places.  You get to discover things you would have missed.
  • Rent bikes - You have experiences you wouldn't have believed.
  • Go to a church service.  They will still think it's boring, but you will appreciate it.  And sometimes it's okay to do what you want to do.  After all, this is your trip too.
  • Go to the local farmers market - the raw birds still have their heads and claws attached.  You can buy pigs feet too.  Let them discover what their food really looks like.
  • Go to a park and take your lunch - it might turn out to be one of their favorite memories.
  • It's okay if they want to watch a movie one night - they are just as tired as you.
  • And if you don't get going until noon one day - that's okay too.  
  • It's alright to eat dinner at 11:00pm or breakfast at noon.  
Just remember, "Youth is wasted on the young".  YOU go enjoy your trip or your time spent without them at home.  It's just your job to expose them to the world out there.  

Not to worry, they will be asking you to foot the bill to send them back soon......

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