Lake Barrett is my thirteen-year-old grandson and a terrific traveling companion. We just returned from five days in Arizona, just the two of us, visiting the Grand Canyon, rafting on the Colorado River, visiting cliff dwellings of Native Americans, walking through a lava flow, eating Navajo Fry Bread, Red River trout, swimming in motel swimming pools and otherwise enjoying ourselves.
One key to successful travel with children and teens is to pay attention to their age-appropriate wants and needs. This was not a year to introduce him to the Metropolitan Opera. Some kids, yes. My grandson, no. I am older and supposed to be smarter. Surely there are places and events in the world that would make my grandchild and me happy at the same time. To insist on my own way and/or to treat every minute of a vacation trip as a teaching moment seems silly.
To make a long trip all about their wants and whims is equally foolish.
Rafting down the Colorado River was a good option, something we would both enjoy.
Also, I knew that, after our plane trip from South Carolina to Phoenix, we would be in a rental car for almost 1000 miles. I carried several books on tape that I suspected Lake and I both would like. Then I let him pick which ones to listen to. He chose Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Jack London’s White Fang. It worked. I didn’t insist he put down his video games during those long hours of driving. He looked when I pointed out cacti he had never seen in South Carolina. He got excited when I showed him a coyote in a desert arroyo. Nor I did not expect scintillating conversation for those endless hours in a car. He is thirteen years old, after all.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” –Anonymous