How to reconnect with your teenager through travel… if even for a little while.

Part of my vision as a Travel Ambassador is to impart the notion that traveling actually has the ability to help improve peoples lives, not only for the short run but perhaps even for the long haul. Taking a vacation is not the cure all for whatever ails you nor will it whisk away that which you are trying to escape from, but it most certainly will deliver new ideas, perspectives and friendships into your life. Traveling will also give you great insight into what makes us and those around us tick.

My boys in Costa Rica, hiking in the rain forest while learning about the world around them.

As humans, we often lose sight of ourselves as we plow through the days that make up years without giving much thought to our true selves or to what really makes our hearts happy. It happens to us as adults and it especially happens to adolescents.

Teenagers are bombarded with social media and are connected to their devices almost 24/7. Phone in hand, head down, fingers typing and zero attention to the what’s going on in their very own presence. I know this because I have a teenager. They are continually reacting and responding to images, texts, songs or videos. Their world has become the size of a screen and their ability to relate to the world around them becomes less and less because they have the whole world in their hand ~ or so it seems. Try taking away the world that they have become so accustomed to and you’ll see a response similar to that of an addict without their vice.

The boys exploring washed up blue jelly fish in Costa Rica.

As a parent, I struggle to find the right inspiration to keep my teenager on the path of happiness and fulfillment. I often reflect back to what made him happy as a little guy. As a young child, my teenager was completely enamored with the sights of trees and forests. We’d take trips into the Black Hills of South Dakota and he’d forge ahead into the woods, climbing trees, picking up every stick and stone that crossed his path. He was in his element. We’d taken a trip to Costa Rica and it was the first time the boys had seen the ocean. My instinct was to warn them, especially my oldest boy, to be cautious of the ocean, be aware, etc. As I was warning him of the power of the ocean, he had already ran into the waves, diving head first into the ocean and seemed to “know” the ocean as if he’d been born into it. It was at that moment that I realized that for him, personally, being immersed in nature is really his grounding point. In order to feel alive and happy, this kid needs nature. While my oldest son was spending hours and hours in the ocean, my youngest son was perfectly content swimming in the safety of the hotel swimming pool. Both boys needed something different, one needed the force and unpredictability of the ocean swells while the other one clearly preferred the safety of a well maintained swimming pool.

As parents of teenagers, we tend to lose sight of who our kids were before they turned into teenagers. People say that in order to find your passion in life, one must go back to what they thought about and did as young children and it is there that you will find a path to your happiness. When our teenagers are lost in their heads or in their screens and we can’t seem to penetrate their world, sometimes we need to do a force quit and reboot the whole system. Unplug the kids ( and ourselves) from their (our) devices and bring them (us) back to what made them (us) happy and content. As parents, we get tired of the arguments, the lack of our kids being present in the moment, we may lash out, we may function out of a place of frustration due to our kiddo’s disengagement and we too may feel hopeless. We get stuck. We get disconnected. It is in these moments that we need to go back to those years when we knew how to make our kids happy. Maybe it was a trip to the park. Maybe it was watching trains. Maybe it was going to the zoo. Clearly, there is no teenager that would say, “YES! Let’s go to the park together, Mom!” That would never happen, not in my house, ever.

Muddy shoes are the sign of a good adventure!

That all being said, we CAN take those childhood trips to the park, zoo, or whatever made their hearts soar and upgrade to them a teen friendly inspiring vacation. We can dig into the memories of what made our kids unique and what interested them and reintroduce experiences that once made them feel alive. We can also look at what their doing right now in terms of interests and nurture that. The benefit of doing this is multi-faceted. Taking the time to explore who and what your child is all about is essential in planning an inspired vacation. Not only will your child have the opportunity to feel “free” in him or herself again because you’ve helped them get back to their authentic self or even nourish their budding selves , you will be able to see that light in your child that once beamed off of his/ her face as they played innocently in wonder.

We all want to feel inspired. We all want to get lost in the wonder of the world and new experiences. We all want to feel connected to people and the world around us. As parents of teenagers, we want to feel connected to our kids and sometimes the best remedy is to travel with them. You will see your child in a different light and they will also get to experience you as a parent in a different light. You’ll be exploring new things together, growing stronger in your exploration and experiences. Vacations always come to an end but time well spent on an inspired vacation intended to reconnect yourself and your child to themselves/ yourselves is like planting seeds of change. These seeds may not grow immediately, but I can almost promise you that they will grow into something beautiful over time. And if anything at all, spending time with your happy teenager will be worth it’s weight in gold and you can return home refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the year. 🙂

Viva la Vida!

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About the author: CarmenSchaffer

My name is Carmen Schaffer and I am a Travel Ambassador. A couple of years ago, I was working within my Social Work career and came to the conclusion that I needed to make a career shift that allowed me to follow my passion for travel coupled with my passion for helping people live more fulfilled lives. Viva la Vida Travel came to life 4 years ago and aspires to help create happier and healthier humans through travel. I plan and book travel that encourages personal growth through thoughtfully planned experiences aimed at creating an overall happier and fulfilled person.

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