Secret to Traveling with a Teenager

When I was just graduating from boarding school my parents and my fourteen and nine year old sisters moved to London. I came over with them for the summer before I started college. For me it was a big adventure of travel and exploration for my sisters it was torture. Margaret at 14 was a sun worshiper so for her England was about the worst place to move and Janet was a sports freak and was not happy about not having other kids to play against.

Because my parents were renovating a house in St. Johns Wood my father thought that it would be nice for the family to live in Surrey as a kind of resort for the summer so my mother could come into London during the day and work on the house and my sisters and I could hang out in the country.

We had a suite that meant the three girls all had to sleep together. This plan did not work well for me since I was 18. After a few days I realized I needed to get out. My boarding school friend Jenny Hetzler’s sister Betsy had a friend named Sally who was over here and wanted to travel with someone – it was me! So off Sally and I went with a Brit rail pass and plans to go as far north in Scotland as we could get with our back packs and a Let’s Go UK book.

This left Margaret and Janet to fend for themselves at the Selsdon Park Hotel during the days. I have no idea what Margaret did when the sun was not shining, but since I have a daughter about her age I can guess it was sleeping. I do know that Janet, who could fake being a young boy better than being a young lady used to go into the men’s only snooker room and play snooker (think billiards). She also took up golf and became quite a good player since she was good at all sports. I think there was some kind of hotel tournament which she won, but probably in the girls division.

My parents liked to spend the weekends exploring the countryside, looking at antiques and spending times in pubs, you can guess which parents liked which thing. At the beginning they used to make the kids go with them, but as the whining and complaining went on they eventually stopped taking my sisters and left them to fend for themselves. I can remember calling home on Easter weekend and finding that my parents had left my sisters home alone in London for the weekend because they did not want to go to Cornwall for the holiday since “Who shot Jr.” was going to be playing on Dallas.

Then, as an older sister and not a parent myself I thought this was horrible. Leave the fairly young kids alone in London. Now that I am a parent myself I think, “how great, no complaining children to ruin your holiday.”

Today Russ and I let Carter sleep as late as she wanted. Who cares that she comes all the way to London just to sleep. Russ and I had a civilized breakfast alone, no moodiness to deal with. We had a great walk in Green Park after eating so we could work off our eggs. When Carter got up around noon Russ and I divided the things she wanted to do – I had to go to Madam Tussaud’s with her so she could get pictures with the One Directions boys. Russ met us for lunch and then he took her to the zoo at Regent’s Park and I got to shop and try and get the rest of my steps in. Giving up on trying to find one activity that makes all of us happy at the same time is clearly the best way to travel with a teenager, that and letting her sleep. I don’t know why I did not learn this from my parents years ago.