Spring Break & Teenagers: How to reconnect with your teens on vacation

“The kids will love it”! Famous last words spoken by innumerable parents as they plan their spring break vacations: Past bad memories of family excursions gone awry fade as the fantasy of a successful vacation with the kids, full of love, laughter, and gratitude, soaks the parental brain into believing a fun-filled family outing will happen, despite the morose teenager sulking in the back seat.

Parents and their two teenage daughters pose during a sailing trip on the SV Riviera.

I watched the family fall out of the massive SUV in the marina’s parking lot. The three kids, Dylan, Emma, and Tyler, ages 12, 14 & 16, seemed disinterested in sailing. They avoided eye contact with me but flashed polite, constipated smiles when their parents prodded them to acknowledge my existence. The parents, Jill and Sergey, greeted me with hope and apprehension. Like when ordering food from a taco vendor on the streets of Tijuana, I’ve seen this uneasy look many times. They hope it’ll all be worth the planning, the money, and the travel.  All Jill and Sergey want is for the experience to match the fun they had while planning their family’s spring break vacation in San Diego.

As parents, we know what a delight it is when your teen drops the attitude, puts down the phone, and fully engages in the present. These moments are rare. But when they happen, it is as if the heavens open, and the beautiful child you once knew comes back to life, and for a few minutes, everything in the world is right.

As a father of four, I get it. Nothing is worse than when your 15-year-old slogs through the house, their face a portrait of sour destain for all things “parental.” Those lucky enough to raise teenagers know all too well what I’m talking about. That face, that non-verbal, sullen facial expression that says, “Dad, you’re so stupid.”

It’s not rocket science. Give the kids a Dr. Pepper and some yummy snacks, and let them sit on the bow sun pad while we sail fast into the wind. If lucky, a couple of F/A 18s will fly right over our heads from NAS North Island. We’ll swing by the fishing bait barges on Point Loma and wave at the sea lions basking in the sun. And, if they want, we’ll let them take the helm and sail the yacht themselves. Regardless of age, there is no better mental reset than a few hours cruising on SV Riviera.

And that is exactly what we did with Dylan, Emma & Tyler. As the sails filled and the boat sped up, they stopped scrolling and were fully engaged. They laughed with each other, took selfies, daydreamed, and made memories. Meanwhile, Jill and Sergey relaxed, perhaps for the first time that day.

With spring break just around the corner and the summer months approaching, parents are planning their holidays and family outings. If the thought of vacationing with your teen over spring break makes you anxious, consider a sailing cruise on Riviera.

Your hope is my guarantee. I promise your kids will be the lively, happy children you once knew, at least for a few hours after we return to the dock.

Fair Winds & Following Seas
Paul & Victoria

A man and woman relax together while sailing on the SV Riviera.
Scroll to Top