Following on from my blog posts about travelling with teenagers – I am very excited to report that I actually have a friend who has recently had a book published on the subject which gives a fascinating insight into why it is important to travel with your teenage children.
She argues that contrary to the popular stereotypical image of the surly, disengaged teenager of today, this generation of teenagers have far greater emotional independence than their parents. She believes it’s the parents, not the teenagers, who are actually suffering from the lack of communication and social interaction.
As a result, she claims, frustrated parents are now increasingly looking to spend quality time with their offspring. Travel, it seems is the answer.
Invitations to take to the skies are met with excitement from an otherwise seemingly disengaged generation, and parents are clamouring to engage.
To understand the background behind the subject Sarah, along with psychologist Dr Rachel Andrews, undertook an extensive research study over a 2 year period. During this time they interviewed over 5000 parents and teenagers.
She shares an incredible insight into what teenagers and their parents are looking for in their holiday taking, and why. She believes that teenagers can be divided into tribes from computer geeks to eco warriors, to high achievers, to too cool for schoolers. There are over twenty ‘tribes’ in all. “Parents have as many if not more issues than their teenagers. You have the guru parent who has been everywhere and seen everything and doesn’t allow the teenager their opportunity to meet new role models, the mid life crisis parent – both male and female – who wants to be a teenager themselves – and it’s not just a case of focusing on teen needs but the dynamic between parent and teenager on holiday. To ensure the perfect fit you need to select where your tribe will fit best.”
As Imogen Stubbs recently commented in her travel article in the FT:
“Holidays are always a challenge, but persuading a teenage boy to embark on a fun outdoor adventure with only his mother for company is frankly terrifying. And there is a new problem when it comes to travelling with teenagers: they are constantly, thanks to technology, somewhere else.”
However, clinical psychologist Dr Rachel Andrews warns: “Despite being able to identify which tribe/best describes your teenager its important to ensure they do not feel boxed into groups or categorised. Teenagers need both barriers and independence and getting that balance right is key to developing a strong relationship with your teenager whether on holiday or not.”
In a world where peers are their most influential source, teenagers are increasingly influenced by word of mouth. The trusted voice is increasingly more important (are facebook and twitter holidays coming soon?) And so though the book launches in early December this is just the beginning.
A brilliant follow on from her book will be the website she is launching in February. The teenage travel conversation will have an interactive section of the website for teenagers and parents to share their travel experience and will include the “teenage diaries” where all holiday taking teenagers will be able to diarise and share their experience.
With pod casts from top travel bloggers and leading specialists including Sarah herself, the teenage blog will encourage teenagers around the world to share their thought on what makes a holiday an experience…
Every month the “best teenager will win a unique holiday experience, in an overseas location, meeting Tourism Ministers, with their blog posted on the National Geographic Traveller Teenage section/Conde Nast Traveller/First News web site.
Her book is currently available as an e-book and is called Have Teenager Will Travel. You can buy it on Amazon and here is the link to help you:- Have Teenager Will Travel
So come on – I want to hear your views on her thoughts and where you’ve travelled with your teenagers. I of course was lucky enough to travel with my daughter to Sarawak recently and she and her friend wrote a very moving piece on what it meant to them in First News, which I was very touched by:-