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Traveling with a Teen in New York City

Longing for some uninterrupted time with our only child, my husband and I agreed that we needed a family vacation.

Bribing is not necessarily the best parenting practice. However, the opportunities to travel with our insanely busy college-age son, Weston, are dwindling. So we made him an offer he couldn’t refuse–an all expense-paid trip to New York City.

After consulting all our calendars, the dates were set and nonrefundable airline tickets were purchased.

Choosing New York City was a no-brainer. All of us have been several times so no one would feel compelled to play the frenzied tourist. Instead, we envisioned a more leisurely trip–dining in Little Italy, strolling through Central Park, watching Broadway shows, and exploring museums.

Vacations are a wonderful way to make priceless memories with your family. Here are ten tips for planning a vacation with a teen or college-age child:

* Give your child a choice of destinations. Look at places that will fuel his passions. Find a festival or special exhibit that speaks to your child’s interest. Seeing Broadway shows is what our son–a theater and history major–loves to do. After a performance, we can talk for hours about the show.

*Reserve a hotel that appeals to young adults. The brand new TRYP hotel with modern decor, free WiFi, and computers in the lobby was a hit with our  son.

*Consider upgrading to a hotel with more space. Our Affinia 50 hotel rooms feel like an apartment. The one-bedroom suite with a living room, kitchen, and bedroom could have easily accommodate six people. The Club Lounge is open to all guests and hosted a free screening of Hugo during our stay.

*Book flights according to your child’s personality. Not a morning person? Don’t schedule a 6:30 am flight.

*Determine what every family member’s top “must see” attractions are before leaving home. Review the attraction’s website for valuable information such as the hours of operation–many museums are closed on Mondays. When hotel shopping, consider one that partners with attractions. The DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan hotel’s “Manhattan Museum Package” features two tickets to the American Museum of Natural History and discounts to Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s, the Skyscraper Museum, local restaurants and more. The offer is good through 2/28/13 visit www.hilton.com/nyc-museum or call 1-800-HILTONS and request plan code Li1.

*Do not micromanage every minute of the vacation. Spontaneity makes travel fun. One of our best outings in New York was an impromptu consumption of cupcakes in Bryant Park where we conversed at a little bistro table under the trees.

*Some structure to a trip is a good thing. Do plan one to three activities per day. Leaving everything to chance can be disappointing. Research before you leave home on New York City’s official tourism website www.nycgo.com. You can search by date and activity to find what is happening during your visit. Popular events–such as concerts, sports, and Broadway shows–sell out. Buy your “must see” attraction tickets online from home. Save up to 45% off admission to six Big Apple attractions with the New York CityPass.

*Give kids some time alone. My husband and I would eat breakfast together and read the daily newspaper, while Weston slept in or explored on his own.

*Do buy souvenirs. Whenever I listen to the music from Wicked, it always reminds me of the great vacation my family  spent in New York.

*Even if they protest–take tons of pictures!

For help planning a trip to New York City, visit www.nycgo.com.

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  1. Great tips, if you’re in NY for the first time or second even there is not enough time in the day to cover everything and see what the city has to offer, no point in sleeping long in the morning. Plus depending on when you travel the mornings are nice and cool along with late afternoons to do outdoor things whilst seeking shelter during the heat of midday.

  2. These are fantastic travel tips for tweens and teens- my kids would pinch themselves if I gave them this much attention in the planning of our travels. I still try to get everyone on board with a high pitched voice saying “This place is going to be AWESOME!” instead of splurging on big hotels.

  3. When we visited Paris this spring, we rented an apartment rather than a hotel room. It was much cheaper (saved at least 50% over hotel costs), gave us more space (two bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and laundry) and more of a sense of Parisian living. We plan to take the kids to NYC over a school break next winter and will rent an apartment there too.

  4. thanks for the great tips- your tips not only work for kids/teens, but also good friends, traveling buddies, siblings and parents. I also fully subscribe to your 1 to 3 goals per day, with usually just one. Especially in a huge place like NY, traveling between spots can take longer than expected. And everyone needs spontaneous cupcake time! Happy Trails.

  5. Now my kids are older and take holidays with their own friends I do have to resort to a bit of bribery if we want to have some family time together – basically we choose family holidays now that the kids will agree to come on catering for their interests, and then I can always have a separate break with my husband to do the things that only we enjoy

  6. Great blog! Great suggestions! Great pictures! The next time you head to NYC you need to let Family In New York be a part of your trip! They offer custom private New York tours. They can create a custom tour with your family in mind! It’s sure to be the highlight of your trip!

  7. These are really great tips for traveling with a teen in NYC. There seems to be so many wonderful things to do in New York City, in can be difficult to figure out where to start. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your vacation.

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