Family Vacation with a 13 Yo

Updated on February 20, 2011
D.S. asks from Belmont, MA
17 answers

We are planning a summer vacation to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. My husband and I are really psyched about seeing and exploring the Canyon as we have never been there. The problem is that my 13 yo doesn't want to go. She sites being the "only kid" as her reason. Her older brothers are both in college (ages 21 and 19) and will not be going with us because they have to work. She says that she'd rather go to a sleep away camp (which she has never done) instead. It is not that she is insistent about not going. She will go if we tell her she has to. I realize her peers are more important at this age but I'm not sure how much to push. I want her to enjoy her time with us and the travel experience. I also don't want to spend all that money and have her put a damper on the trip. Any advise??????

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answers from Hartford on

I remember being the only child at home at that age and not looking forward to hanging out with my parents for a week. But guess what...I did end up having a great time!

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answers from Boston on

Have her bring a friend. The Grand Canyon is absolutely the most spectacular, magical place on the planet, in so many ways. She will love the everything from the magnitude of seeing the cliffs half a mile above her to the details of the desert animals and plants on the ground. When you are down in the canyon, you can sing three notes and have them echo back to you in perfect harmony. You may have to help the friend find equipment, or choose someone who has experience in wilderness camping, but we didn't require a tent since rain is very unlikely. Be prepared for heat, though; in the summer it can get extremely hot down in Phantom Ranch and other spots along the Colorado, and water can be unreliable. We have sometimes left a cache along a section of trail we plan to pass by again, in case one of the streams is dried up.

Wow, I'm so jealous-- have a WONDERFUL trip.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Yep, have her bring a friend :)

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answers from Boston on

Have her bring her BFF !! :-) Good Luck !!

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answers from Bloomington on

Let her bring a friend!

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answers from Chicago on

I don't get why your daughter even thinks she has an option in attending a family vacation. I tell my 13yr old daughter all the time...You can go and have fun, or you can go and be miserable, your choice. She always ends up having fun. Help her do some research and have her come up with some ideas of things she'd like to do while you're there. This way, she'll look forward to the trip. We all know what to expect in Las Vegas/Grand Canyon. She is probably just focusing on spending a week alone with her parents!
Have fun!

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answers from Boston on

13 is a funny age like that. I would insist she goes, and she will end up having a blast and creating a nice family memory. My 13 year old daughter is the same way. But once you take away the texting/Facebook/IM hopefully they will see the beauty around them! She doesn't know what she is saying no to. It's our job as parent to expose them to the world around them. Have a great vacation!

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answers from Chicago on

yes, Bring her BFF!!!!!!!
Does she have a cousin that's about her age that she already knows that you know that could go?

At 13 the girls can share the same hotel bed. The only cost to the other girl would be travel, but if they know your family they might think it's a great experience and pay for their daughter to go!

The other alternative is to send her to camp. Sometimes kids aren't all that interested in the 'sights' but she will learn lots of things at camp that wille enrich her just as much as the grand canyon!

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answers from Johnstown on

I absolutely agree--BFF!

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answers from Boston on

We went to Grand Canyon last summer with our 13 yo son and had a ball. And he was totally looking forward to it. It depends on the kid and what you plan on doing when you're there. Our trip was two weeks and could have been longer.

Think about what you plan to do and who you are as a family. We just have the one child and love dreaming up an occasional adventure with him. We love train travel so when we can, we include that in the itinerary. That in itself is an adventure for us and a big draw for our son.

Early teens is a tough age. It was never an option for our son not to join us and the trip was great. On occasion, he did his pouty thing, but for the most part, we all enjoyed the trip. He brought his iPod for entertainment when we were driving or slow times on the train, but otherwise, it was away and he spent time with us. We always look at these trips as a nice time to reconnect as a family.

What is your daughter like in general? Does she usually enjoy doing things with you, just the three of you? Or can't she be bothered to be civil as the smaller family you are now. I was the last of 6 kids (5 kids in 6 years, then me 5 yrs later). Personally, I loved having my parents to myself for those last few years. But each family and parent-child relationship is different.

On our Grand Canyon vacation last summer, we drove part of the trip (to a family reunion), then caught Amtrak in Illinois for the rest of the trip to Flagstaff. We stayed in Flagstaff for a night, then drove to the Canyon, walking along the ridge. Then we drove east, stopping along the way to see various vantage points, and ending at the Watchtower at sunset.

Definitely make sure you are at the Grand Canyon at sunrise or sunset. The colors are much more rich when the sun is low!

And if you have the money and desire, stay at the El Tovar Hotel right on the rim, or at a place nearby. We only spent a day walking and driving around the South Rim, but we could have spent much more time there. (My husband hiked down to the base of the GC years ago and camped down there with his twin brother. I'd love to do that another time in the future.)

We ended up staying at a campy place in Kanab, UT called the Parry Lodge-- They show old-time westerns in the evening. We cheaped out in their least expensive rooms (a let-down for our son after nicer places elsewhere...the more expensive rooms might be better), but it was fun to learn the history of the place and it was a great mid-point for further exploration at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

The following list includes places we saw:
Bryce Canyon--well worth it; hiked down into it
Zion--car travel not allowed like years ago; seeing it by bus not necessarily worth it; only worth it, in my view, if you have the time to hike into some upper views
Meteor Crater--depends on your interest; fascinating to realize the impact; not all that exciting to look at though
Walnut Canyon--short hike with lots of cliff dwellings
Montezuma Castle--short hike with more picturesque cliff dwelling
Red Rock--classic AZ countryside
Sedona--lots of touristy places, if that's your thing
Slide Rock--a natural water slide; a ball for our son and me; either go really early or later in day to avoid long lines, though
Tuzigoot--interesting ruins if you're in the area

Overall, it was a wonderful trip and I'd do it again sometime. The few things we didn't do which I'd still like to do in the future are:
1) take a helicopter ride in the Grand Canyon
2) take a rafting trip there
3) take the train up from Flagstaff to the Canyon and stay at the El Tovar

So, for your trip, it depends on all of you. I remember telling our son one day, you have a choice of having fun or being miserable, but that's up to you. He got over himself and enjoyed it. But in general, he enjoyed the entire trip.

His favorite part was the train trip. He loves these adventures with least so far. His two cents on your vacation included..their daughter probably has a bunch of friends going to camp and doesn't want to miss that.

Good luck deciding and decide if this trip will include things she will likely enjoy or not.

Have a great trip whatever you decide! : )

P.S. I couldn't agree more with Erica G. : )

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answers from Boston on

A friend is a good idea BUT you have to be sure you can afford that and also that the kids will get along for the whole time. You also have to be sure that some other family will agree to send their kid across the country with you, and that the other kid won't be moody with the heat and hiking and being away from home. I think it may set you up for the future - always having to bring a friend! We have one child, and we never brought a friend until he was about 15 - and that was when we were renting a house on Cape Cod and the only expenses for the friend were food in the house and a few rounds of mini golf. I wouldn't be paying air fare, restaurant meals or motel fees for a friend, thank you very much!

I agree with the post that she can go and be miserable or go and have fun - her choice. You will meet many people there - lots of families will be doing the same thing, so you will probably find other young teens to hang/hike with. She's asserting her independence, and that is normal and good. She has older brothers who will have freedom she yearns for. I think she'll be fine once you go. You can ignore her moods. Once you are there, give her a few choices of activities if possible - things both you and your husband would enjoy anyway.

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answers from Washington DC on

camp! you and hubby have fun together!!!!!



answers from Philadelphia on

If you can bring a friend, like others suggested, that would be the best. I remember my parents taking our family on a European vacation (Norway, Italy, Germany, Switzerland) the summer I turned 13 for one month. All I remember is how much I felt I was missing back home, where all my friends were hanging out at our local pool. Can you imagine? A month long European vacation and here's this ungrateful 13yr old being grumpy about everything. Looking back, I cringe, but I also wish they'd waited a few more years 'til I was older so I could appreciate it more. I went back to Europe after college for a backpacking trip with friends, and THAT was fabulous and memorable. But at 13, I just wanted my friends. So maybe this time around, if you can't bring a friend along, let her go to camp. She'll be happy, YOU will certainly be happy not having to deal with a moody teenager and everyone wins! Have FUN!!!

Oh, and BTW, I've done that helicopter ride from Vegas to the GrandCanyon. If you get the chance to do it, DO IT! One of the most amazing experiences I've ever had!



answers from Detroit on

Go and have fun... she'll snap out of it!



answers from Burlington on

She should go. Can she help plan. Let her research some ideas, ?horseback riding or burro ride into the canyon, does she like white water rafting? Get her involved so she feels vested in the success of the trip. Hope you can turn her around :)



answers from Dallas on

Since LV is the destination, it does not sound like a trip planned with your daughter in mind.This is really an adult destination and your daughter will most likely be bored there. Not to mention she will be exposed to some very "unfamily-like " things that she probably shouldn't see yet (prostitution, extreme drunkenness, drug use, etc.). I used to go to Las Vegas about once a year and now that I have kids, I don't. The Grand Canyon is awesome and Your daughter would most likely warm up to it once you got there. If she really doesn't want to go and you have other options, I wouldn't push it. I'd plan a trip later for some place all of you would like to go.



answers from Las Vegas on

I am trying to think of what she can do here and the thing that comes to mind is Circus Circus Adventuredome. They have something there for every age. It is located on the strip, Hotel/Casino/theme park.

There are helicopter tours on the strip that I believe go out to the Grand Canyon. Look up the sunset for the date of your vacation and make the return flight at sunset or later. You will see the entire strip lit up. You can also go to the top of the Stratosphere and see the entire strip there too. There are a few rides at the top as well. Valet park at that hotel.

She can zip-line downtown Fremont Experience. I am not sure if Neonopolis Center is still open downtown Las Vegas. It seems it may be closed.

As well, she will be amazed with a show. There are all the Cirque shows and Le Reve has excitement every moment.

I am guessing you have a tour package for the Grand Canyon. Pink Jeep is one of the big tour companies, or I think you can take the helicopter.

There is also Cosmic bowling, with music & dim lights/neon lights. Puts a new twist on bowling. You will have to check for an age limit, as I am not sure.

You will find shopping in just about every hotel, however, there are several malls right on the strip.

I hope this helps her see she will have fun here. Let me know if I can help with anything else. Enjoy Vegas!

@ Danna - There is prostitution, drunks, and druggies all over the world, as well Vegas. It is crazy that you think the problems are isolated to LV. The worst thing one could ever do for their family, is close their eyes to their own surroundings and think the evil is within everyone else.

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