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traveling with teens

Road trip Essentials when Traveling with Teens, Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Traveling with teens this summer? Making one last road trip for Labor Day? What are your road trip essentials when traveling with teens? I’ve been really laser-focused on the fact that we only have a few more precious summers left with the girls living at home. If we’re being honest, I’d like to just hide them inside the house and keep them all to myself for the next few years but alas, being a mom means raising good human beings that can go out into the world and thrive, do all the good human things. It’s my duty as a mom to help make the world a little less crappy by populating it with awesome little people.

Firstly, don’t be afraid to travel with your teens. Traveling with teens on road trips is a lot less painful than you might imagine and certainly less suicide-thought inducing as traveling with toddlers in Christmas traffic. Holy shit, I’ll never do that again. Well, maybe one of these days with grandkids but the same rules don’t apply when you didn’t birth them yourself, right?

READ ALSO: The TRUTH about Parenting Teenagers

My point is that teenagers are pretty awesome. They’re funny, full of personality and they can pump gas and go buy snacks. I’ve grown to love long road trips, especially in an RV, because being trapped in the car with your husband and kids for 18 hours really does say I love you. But more importantly than that, spending that kind of time traveling to new places, talking to fill the space and being in such close proximity to one another really is a recipe for making memories, inside jokes and bonding.

road trip essentials when traveling with teens, Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

You may find yourself exhausted and tired of being trapped in a car or traffic or even a little frustrated while it’s happening but you will always make the most beautiful, subtle and nostalgic memories that you could ever imagine. Trust me. You want to do this before they go off to college.

Road Trip Essentials when Traveling with Teens

A Clean Car

Make sure the car is clean, free from clutter and the heat/ air is charged and working. Don’t find this shit out the wrong way.

Carpool Karaoke Mic

We received the Carpool karaoke mic for review purposes and it has been so much fun. My girls love to sing in the car, so do the Big Guy and I so this was the perfect addition to our road trip essentials.

Apple Music

We could not survive a road trip without all of our favorite music and playlists. No matter the genre or your mood, you can always find what you’re looking for to serenade you in the soundtrack to your life.

Hand Sanitizer

This is a no-brainer. Messes happen. Germs happen. Things get sticky when you’re eating and driving or karaoking in the back seat. No one wants to eat chips with gas pumping hands. Be safe, bring the sanitizer.

All the Snacks

We usually hit up the local supermarket or Walmart and get a good assortment of fresh fruit and already washed and cut veggies to snack on in the car. But a few other favorites are coconut and chocolate Lar Bars, wasabi and Himalayan sea salt dark chocolate almonds, Bubly preferably in Blackberry, San Pellegrino, toasted coconut Oikos and Cheese sticks to name a few.

Bluetooth headphones for everyone

Sometimes you, they, he just wants to tune out the other people in the car and listen to some tunes they want to listen to. You can only listen to Baby Shark and laugh as a family so many times before someone goes bat shit crazy and drives the car into a guard rail.

Entertainment

An Ipad for Streaming movies on Hulu, Netflix, prime and watching Youtube is a necessity. But if your teen is extra to the extreme, bring along all the Tarte makeup and be entertained while they film their own make-up tutorials or Tik Tok themselves silly. Truly, it’s entertaining for the entire family. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Electronic chargers, Sneaker boxes

There is nothing so somber and woeful as a teen without charged electronic devices. They are great until you cut them off cold turkey from their electronics. For my girls, it’s not even being on the devices so much as it is having the security of the option to do so.

Pillows and fuzzy blankets

We all need and like to be comfortable when on a long road trip. For all the time spent bonding, we are, for all intent and purposes, in very close proximity to one another and sometimes you just need your space so the least you can do is be comfortable as to alieve any unnecessary aggravation and a nap and rest seems to do the job on many levels.

Money

Carry some cash and make sure that you’ve got a card “for emergencies”. Nothing ruins a road trip faster than being broke.

Games that prompt conversation Get to know your kids on the road

We have several games like would you rather, have you ever, conversation starters that really let you get to know your children and vice versa.

READ ALSO: Growing up too fast

We really do have so few summers with our children. When they are little days and hours seem to go on forever. We linger there wishing it to go faster and then before we know it, hours fade into days and time speeds up so fast that just as we are beginning to really know and like our children, they leave us. Make the moments count. They won’t all be winners and every moment won’t be special but together really is better than apart.

What’s at the top of your list of road trip essentials when traveling with teens?

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Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

If you want to take your children or teens someplace that will leave them speechless, visit Banff, Alberta. If you’re a parent, you already know how rare that can be. Children and teenagers are always in a hurry to get to the next place, the next thing and are easily bored and not afraid to tell you. If you prefer not to be serenaded by choruses of, “Are we there yet?” and “I’m bored” then Banff is for you.

I’m a talker who is easily bored and when I found myself standing at the mouth of Lake Louise, I had no words. I’m a city girl.  Grew up in Chicago. Love the city. I feed off of the hustle and bustle of people in a hurry. Kinetic energy gives me life. Standing in the stillness surrounded by all of that natural beauty, embracing the quiet is an inexplicable kind of breathtaking.

READ ALSO: Things to Do In Portland Maine with Kids and Teens

In my opinion, Banff is one of the most stunningly beautiful places on earth. The moment that I set eyes on Moraine Lake, I knew that I needed to share this place with my girls and the Big Guy. It’s a gift I want to give them.

There are certain things in life that have to be seen with your own eyes, felt with your heart and experienced to be believed. Banff is one of those places. You have to stand there and soak it in to believe this kind of beauty exists. I don’t want to oversell it, but then again I don’t think that is possible.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Boston with Your Tweens and Teenagers

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta, Canada, Banff has mountains, rivers, valleys and glaciers. If your family loves exploring new places and going on adventures while being 100 %present, this is the perfect family vacation for the teenager or child who can’t sit still.

Things to do in Banff with Teenagers

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Moraine Lake

This might be my favorite spot in all of Banff. I may or may not have requested upon returning that my ashes be scattered there one day. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of all of that beautiful? Moraine Lake’s blue waters are surrounded by towering mountains, including 11,500-foot Mount Temple, the third highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Located a 15-minute drive from the quieter more serene Lake Louise, popular Moraine Lake, can be crowded in summer. My suggestion, arrive early to enjoy canoeing and hiking before the crowds arrive.

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Lake Louise

Lake Louise, located within Banff National Park, is absolutely stunning. The emerald green lake is spectacular and the region has a range of hikes from easy lakeside strolls to more difficult ascents. The town of Banff is located 35 miles from the lake, so you will not be immersed in the crowds. The Lake Louise region has a sightseeing gondola and horseback riding.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in Banff National Park, provides classic Canadian Rockies scenery. As the park’s only lake to allow motorized boating, Minnewanka is popular and crowded. Make reservations and arrive early to take a 1, 2, or 3-hour cruise around the lake. Lake Minnewanka is located a 20-minute drive from the town of Banff.

Banff Hot Springs

After a day of adventure seeking with your teens, what’s more relaxing than winding down in the Hot Springs? A natural hot spring provides an invigorating mixture of minerals to soothe your family’s sore muscles after a day of hiking, skiing or mountain biking. The Hot Springs are open seven days a week and well into the evening.

Banff Hiking

With more than 1,000 miles of trail, Banff National Parks offers path options for every level hiker. For an easy hike, try the Tunnel Mountain trail. Accessible from the town of Banff, the 1.4-mile trail leads to the mountain’s summit, with great views of the Bow Valley. Both Emerald Lake and Lake Louise offer additional easy family hikes with little elevation gain but with gorgeous scenery. In July and August wildflowers lace the Garden Path Trail, at Sunshine Village ski area.

Several outfitters offer guided hikes within the park, including the Mountain Heritage Guide Program at the Chateau Lake Louise.

Ice Climbing Banff’s Frozen Waterfalls

If your teen really wants to explore Banff like an adventurer, using an ice ax to climb a frozen waterfall is about the most exciting way to do that. Get yourself a guide for this excursion this winter and impress your teens with your adventurous spirit. You’d be hard pressed to find a cooler way to explore Banff’s creeks and canyon.

Climb Banff’s Majestic Walls

Banff has more than just fresh powder and raging rivers to offer. Being in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff has numerous cliffs and crags to rock climb. Hire a guide to bring you along on a multi-pitch trek in Bow Valley or the Ghost River area. Whether you are looking for traditional top roping or pushing your limits with sport climbing, your teens will be safe as you explore. Banff boasts some of the best limestone formations that give you the most accessible and remote areas of Alberta to enjoy.

Ski the “Big Three”

Skiing is a year-round possibility in Banff. I was there in August and it snowed. The big three resorts to go to are Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay, and the Lake Louise Ski Resort. These three mountains, give you access to 8,000+ acres, 26 chair lifts, and 30+ feet of annual snow fall. There is something for everyone, whether your teens are first timer skiers/ snowboarders or black diamond ready or simply want to take in the majestic mountains, Banff is an excellent choice.

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Banff Trail Rides

Biking Banff will give you the ultimate Canadian choose-your-own adventure with all the scenic views and the opportunity to stop at will and take it all in. The best time for cycling through Banff is May through October for milder temperatures.

Banff Horseback Riding

Trail rides are a fun way to take in the scenery for those who prefer horses to hikes. Horses carry riders 2,000 feet up the mountain to the 7,000-foot-high tea house. After a break, you mount up and head back down. More experienced riders can sign on for longer expeditions that takes you through the forest, up mountain trails, to the banks of a waterfall and then high above the tree line for a panoramic view.

Banff Gondola

An eight-minute, enclosed gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain gifts you with panoramic views. At the summit, stroll the Banff Skywalk or try the more difficult South East Ridge Trail hike depending on your family’s skill level.

Snowshoe through the Rocky Mountains

If you want to take your teens on the ultimate backcountry adventure, snowshoeing might be for you. Depending on how outdoorsy you and your teens are and your skill levels, you can choose a half-day to multiple day excursions. These adventures could include climbing the Continental divide, snowshoeing across frozen lakes or seeing Banff from a mountain peak. Possibilities for thrills is endless.

Rafting the Chinook River

Rafting is something that I’ve always wanted to do and that I think my teens would really enjoy. Banff offers several different rafting routes to choose from. Two of the most thrilling river rides are Horseshoe Canyon and Kicking Horse River. These rides will leave you exhilarated and soaked after a day on the rapids. On Horseshoe Canyon, you even have the option of cliff jumping if the rapids are not too fierce. Some excursions offer a BBQ lunch and professional photos of your family in the rapids!

Canoe or Kayak the Bow River

The Bow River is almost magical, born from snowmelt from the peaks of the Canadian Rockies. It winds through Banff flowing south. You can rent a boat and go exploring alone or hire a local guide.

Columbia Icefields

On this adventure, you and your teens will board giant buses with tires the size of adults that can handle moving through the ice on the Athabasca Glacier. You are left atop a glacier where you can stand on ice created by snow that fell 400 years ago. Holy wow! Your children of all ages will love this. Imagine a snowball fight made of centuries-old snowflakes. The Columbia Icefields cover nearly 200 square miles, the Athabasca Glacier is one of the most easily accessible. Tours take place mid-April to mid-October. Reservations are recommended.

Icefields Parkway

This is where you can really get some quiet time, save for some gasps of OMG! Stretching for about 143 miles between Lake Louise and the town of Jasper, the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) delivers breathtaking scenery. You’ll pass forests, river valleys, mountains with peaks reaching 10,000 feet and Peyto Lake, the bluest in the Canadian Rockies. This bluer than blue color is a result of fine particles of ground rock scattering the sun’s rays. Bighorn sheep, elk, mountain goats and ravens can often be seen along this drive.

Sunshine Meadows Gondola

Kids, teenagers and adults will love this scenic summer gondola ride up the Rocky Mountains in Canada’s oldest national park, Banff. Begin your adventure by hopping inside an eight-person gondola at the base of Sunshine Village and enjoy a 20-minute scenic mountain ride. At the top, you will arrive at Sunshine Village.

A short walk from the gondola, visitors can hop on a four-person chairlift to reach the top of the mountain. This brings you to the magnificent viewpoint at the top of the mountain. There is a short, gravel walking trail to reach an elevated viewpoint. As you walk along the trail, you will enter the Canadian Provence of British Columbia and then cross back over into Alberta. The kids will think that’s cool.

Take your time and enjoy the breathtaking mountain and lake views from the summit and take tons of photos. Though I literally took thousands and it still wasn’t enough. Photos cannot accurately capture the magic that is Banff. These views have to be seen to be believed. Several hiking trails begin at the top of the mountain and head back to the village or you can take the chairlift and gondola back down the mountain. It’s up to you.

These are just a few of the things that you can do with tweens and teenagers in Banff. The possibilities are endless. The adventure begins with you and the feeling of experiencing it all together as a family will last a lifetime.

What’s your favorite place to travel as a family and why?

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camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel

I’m definitely a 5-star resort kind of girl . I love luxury, lazy rivers, hot tubs, and wifi. I blame my husband. Before him, I was the outdoorsy type. I’m not sure if I loved roughing it or I just grew up in a family of 6, so roughing it was the standard on vacation. I never considered that RVing is the best family trip you can take your children on.

I could often be found hiking, swimming, rolling down some grassy hill, laying outside looking up at the stars or just staring in wonder at the natural beauty surrounding me. I took great pleasure in the simple things. The beauty of a sunset, the grass beneath me and the sand and surf between my toes. These things made me happy.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I graduated from university, started having babies, a bad back and no time. Suddenly, 5-star resorts became my gold standard. I’m not afraid to admit that I adore a good room service breakfast in bed. Achy bones and a weary body make a good bed and a deep tub my happy place. Until a couple years ago.

READ ALSO: Why Every Family should go RVing before their Kids Grow Up

I attended an epic road trip with Ford where I drove from Kamloops to Calgary and it was a life-changing moment for me. I was reminded of how truly awesome this world is and how it is ever changing. I knew then that I needed to share this with our girls.

I came home from that trip changed forever. I wanted nothing more than to immerse them in that inspiring, mind-blowing beauty in person; to see how breathtaking mother earth is without the distractions and noise of everyday life. I wanted to take them to this quiet solitude with nothing but the hum of cicadas, the soft summer breeze as it rustles the trees and the crash of the surf meets the shore. I wanted them to hear the ripple of their life that you can only hear when alone in nature.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

My love for nature is innate. Both of my parents descend from farmers, so we appreciate the earth because we know it gives life. I guess I just never realized how damn beautiful she was until that moment in Banff. I was ready to share this immediately but photos can’t do justice to that sort of beauty. It always falls short plus that kind of natural peace has to be felt to be understood. But due to circumstances beyond my control, that moment would have to wait.

Finally, last month, we got the chance to give them a taste of all that beauty. We took the girls on a camping trip to Michigan, courtesy of the Traverse City KOA and GoRVing and it did not disappoint.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

A bad back and age sometimes make me feel like I’m in my 80’s. But, I dream of sharing all the national parks in the United States with my girls; being outdoors and appreciating the small things that we take for granted so often. I want them to look up at the sky at night and see the millions of stars surrounded by nothing but nature and love. I want them to see the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky and be left breathless. To do all of that, you have to leave the bright lights of the city and go to where nature is still untouched. You have to go camping to really be in it.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

We stayed in a stationary RV that looks just like a cabin but is actually built on an RV chassis and towed to its final destination. It was gorgeous and perfect for the first time camper, the person who wants to be one with nature but prefers indoor plumbing, the avid glamper or those of us who just might prefer some of the luxuries of home, while communing with nature.

READ ALSO: The Secret to the Best Road Trip Ever

However, you slice it, I would highly recommend staying at the Traverse City KOA and renting a GoRVing RV, stationary or otherwise. You won’t be disappointed. I know we weren’t. It had all the comforts of home, including tv and WiFi, which we didn’t really use but it was nice to know it was available if we needed it.

Our trip was for 4 days and it was the best vacation we had all summer. We travel a lot and we do love it. We love big cities and exciting things but being in nature is a different kind of vacation. There was no need for scheduling and planning. The only plan was to get on the open road, enjoy one another and the nature all around us.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

Camping is the kind of trip that refuels your soul. There was something absolutely magical about sharing the Sleeping Bear Dunes with my daughters, swimming on a private beach and eating the best pizza ever at a market.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

We combed the beach for rocks to make kindness rocks for others. We danced and sang with our tweens as we barbecued outside and laughed so hard that we cried while sitting around a bonfire talking and roasting smores. It was magical because we slowed down enough to just be with one another. We talked. We listened. We laughed. We came back together stronger.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I don’t know about you and your family but I suspect it’s similar to mine, we work all the time. We work hard. Between the Big Guy and I working, the girls going to school and 6 days of ballet a week, there is not a lot of time for just being, as much as we would love more of it. We try to have dinner together and we do talk to each other every day. We make the effort to ask questions even when we are all so busy and tired all we want is a nap and some silence. Camping together allowed the rest of the world to fall away for four days and it was just us and nature and it was truly the most special time.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

Before we even got home, the Big Guy was talking about making this an annual trip. But I think we want more. I’m hoping to get to take my family to the national parks out west next summer, hopefully in an RV. I want that togetherness that camping provides.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I only have 6 more summers with my oldest daughter before she goes off to college and that fact is not lost on me. Each moment is precious. I’d love to have at least 6 more RV camping trips with our girls. I want them to look back on their childhood fondly and remember all the magical moments together standing in awe of the beauty of nature surrounded by all the love.

Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On, sleeping bear dunes, camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel

I want to extend a sincere thank you to GoRVing.com and the Traverse City KOA for facilitating this absolutely magical trip for my family. It’s changed the way we vacation. I guess I’m not as much of the 5-star hotel girl as I thought I was. The outdoorsy me is still inside and begging to sleep out under the stars.

If you don’t have an RV, staying in a park model cabin like the one we stayed in is a popular option to try out the RV lifestyle.  Some campgrounds also have travel trailers all set up on site available for rent.
In addition, there are some companies like Camp N Style located in San Diego that will bring an RV (could be a travel trailer or a motorhome) right to the campground and hook it up so when you get there, its ready to go!  These are generally equipped with pots, pans, dishes, full kitchen & bath, AC & heat, too!.

Ready to plan an RV adventure of your own?  Visit GoRVing.com for info on how to get started, how to choose the RV that’s right for you, where to go, what to bring and so much more!

 

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