Kids are always changing and growing, and I’ve finally realized that our vacation style will be continually evolving, too. Now that my daughter is sixteen, the amount of space available in her schedule is decreasing, whereas the size of her wardrobe that she packs and her desire for more personal space is increasing.
This spring, we took a trip to Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena, Illinois and found ways to accommodate those shifts and provide lots of opportunities for family fun, too. Here are 7 truths about traveling with teens and tweens that I learned (or relearned) there.
Location, location, location
With academic pressure at an all-time high, including prepping for standardized tests and AP exams, and a very busy school schedule, we didn’t have time to go far, but we all still very much needed a break from our quotidian routines.
My great-grandmother always said a change was as good as a rest. My whole family needed a break and a change of scene, and we got it in Galena. The historic town is on the Mississippi River, just under three hours away for Chicago. It was a perfect distance. We felt like we had traveled and had fun discovering new places, but we always didn’t spend all our time on the road.
It was also a great reminder that not all vacations have to involve travel to far-off, exotic places. There’s fun to be had pretty much anywhere. In teen parlance, there are great Instagram pics to be snapped wherever you go.
Teens need space (and so do parents)
We typically share a hotel room when we travel and while that’s feasible, the older my teen gets, the trickier it becomes. She needs space. We as parents need space. Hearing her talk in her sleep was cute when she was little, but now it feels like a weird invasion of her privacy at 3 a.m.
A little breathing room goes a long way.
At Eagle Ridge we stayed in a two bedroom villa, and we all adored the set up. Not only were there two bedrooms, each bedroom was on a separate floor. Even better, there was a bathroom next to each. Not only was it more enjoyable, it was more efficient for getting ready in the morning.
Follow your teen’s lead
On our way to Galena, we saw a billboard for a shop named Poopsies. I admit that I judged by the name. I was dubious and thought that it wouldn’t be a great place for my husband. But my teen was determined we’d go. Turns out, she was absolutely right. All three of us loved it and found fun things that made us laugh and some great conversation starters.
Food is the way to your teen’s heart
A hungry teen isn’t pretty. Keeping adolescents well-fed is a key to happy family travels with teens. Stopping for pizza will almost always be met with a smile, and the pie we got from Paisanos Delizioso did not disappoint. Even better. we had some leftovers. We took full advantage of the villa’s refrigerator and microwave, which made for a great late night snack.
Also, teach kids to travel with their taste buds – try some local fare and take advantage of unique spots. Main Street in Galena has several, including Great American Popcorn Company and Root Beer Revelry, which was a unique little shop on Main Street with fun flights of root beer the whole family could enjoy.
You don’t always have to fight the phone
I’m a big believer in disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with each other. Teens, however, have mixed feelings. Sometimes they are relieved when they disconnect (tell them they can blame you if necessary). Other times, not so much.
On this weekend getaway, I decided not to make too much of a fuss ahead of time and just see how it played it out. Turned out that my teen was pretty judicious in her use of her phone, and was mostly interested in using the camera to capture the natural beauty of the area.
Her interest in taking some unique photos also led us to stop at a few places, like the old train station, that we may have bypassed.
It also raised her interest in Thunderbay Falls, a waterfall on the Eagle Ridge property that was especially lovely (and really loud, per its name).
Short can be sweet when vacationing with a teen
Ideally, we’d all have tons of time to take vacation and scheduling it would be breeze. In reality, however, our lives are busy. Not only are our schedules very full, our teens are often booked solid. You don’t have to have a solid week or more to enjoy a get away. A long weekend, or even a regular weekend, can be a great opportunity to recharge and reconnect with your kids.
Look for deals
Raising adolescents is expensive, so take advantage of deals whenever you can, like right now.
If you want to check out Eagle Ridge yourself, they are offering a special deal for Between Us Readers. You can get a $129 rate per Standard Inn room per night (plus tax and resort fee), Sunday through Thursday only, now through July 31st, 2019. Get the details and book here.
I was not compensated to write about Eagle Ridge – all opinions are my own or those of my family – but we did enjoy a hosted weekend there and are excited to return soon (and using that discount code)!
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