Road Trips: Hitting The Open Road With Teens | My Family Travels

FTF's annual teen travel writing scholarship reveals what teens really think about piling into the family car for the annual summertime roadtrip.

As the traveling parent of a teen, this script might sound familiar:

Parent: Roadtrip!
Teen: Yeah!
Parent: Wait, there’s a catch! Roadtrip with the family!
Teen: Oh.

Planning a roadtrip with teenagers may not seem like a fun idea at first. There are some important questions to ask: Will they appreciate the opportunity to explore this great country? What will you talk about? Where should you go? Will everyone reach the destination in one piece?

Read the five stories below to find out what teens who contributed their travel tales for consideration in FTF’s 2008 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship did and didn’t like about quality family time on the road.

A month on the road shows her family members in a different light and Karen Rice realizes why she loves her family — for who they are. In her essay How Our Family Vacation Changed Me and Not My Family, she writes, “I expected us to change, but what I found out surprised me, both about my family and myself; I wouldn’t want my family to change, not for all the vacations in the world.”

Austin Walker highlights some of his most important memories from a family roadtrip — the ones that were not planned — in his essay Great American Road Trip. He writes, “Yet somehow, these planned stops aren’t the things you remember about a road trip. The things you remember are the unplanned, the spontaneous. You remember the rodeo that was in town when you were coming through.”

Maren Raab describes the roadtrip that strengthened her bond with her mother in her essay Roadtrip to Arizona. “It seemed the vortexes were telling me I wasn’t ready to take care of myself. I was getting ready for college, but the thought of leaving my parents suddenly terrified me. We had a long, tearful talk that night, both of us finally concluding that maybe the vortexes had opened up some emotions after all.”

When Kierstyn Lyts’ family drove north to volunteer with a disability camp, they found themselves enriched by the experience as well. In her essay, Learning Experience on a Road Trip, Kierstyn writes, “Although I was overwhelmed at the magnitude of this project, because our family worked together we accomplished our task in no time and learned that when we unite together we can achieve intimidating undertakings.”

Nate Fisher’s dad stresses the importance of discussion on their annual trip to Colorado. In his essay The Halfburger Trip, Nate describes the benefit of hours of conversation on the road, “It’s a chance for two teenage boys to be heard above the din of school hallways and TV commercials. We talk about everything. Girls. School. Friends. Ambitions. Dreams. Dad’s a smart guy; an Elton John song, a Hispanic billboard, everything is fodder for discussion.”

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