#teen talk: the spring break dilemma..

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya…or maybe not. While the Beach Boys might have been onto something – who doesn’t dream of white sands and warm oceans this time of year – the reality of spring break travel often involves more delayed flights and busted bank accounts than “Kokomo”-like paradise. In the interest of mental sanity and fiscal responsibility, perhaps you’ve opted for the “Staycation” this month. Before your children pile on the guilt, know that you are not alone in your choice. Although many families head off to far-flung exotic locales for the spring holiday, plenty of folks will remain firmly planted in T-town. Whatever your personal spring break plans may be, I thought it might be fun to see what everyone else is doing and maybe get a bit of advice for next year.

Greg Spears is CEO of Spears Travel, a locally owned member agency of the worldwide Travel Leaders group. As you might suspect, Spears told me that beach destinations such as Cancun, Florida and the Bahamas are big ones this time of year. He recommends cruises as a great way for families, especially multi-generational ones, to travel. “From a family standpoint, it’s very, very relaxing,” he commented. “You don’t have to worry about where you’re going to eat, and everybody doesn’t have to be ready at the same time…Everybody can be at their own pace, and that gives you plenty of flexibility.”

If you only have a long weekend, Spears suggests Branson, MO. “It’s a great, short getaway and very popular, with a variety of activities…We see a lot of families doing that for shorter trips. That’s probably the most popular close-by vacation spot.”

Spears also had some good advice for those parents haunted by the specter of the fabled “Senior Trip.”

“Yes, those can be very, very stressful for parents,” he laughed. “All-inclusive resorts are nice, but some of them won’t allow teens by themselves. If you’ve got chaperones, and you can do an all-inclusive, then the kids can do their own thing a little bit more securely.”

According to Spears, a great, albeit less glamorous alternative, would be a destination such as Washington D.C., or even Europe, if you can afford it. “There are a lot of fun things you can do that are educational as well.”

Although Tulsa sixth grader, Sarah G., told me her dream vacation is “Paris,” she is happy to be heading to Death Valley National Park in California with her family for her break.

“I’m looking forward to being there because I’ve never gone before,” she said. She’s excited to see the sand dunes.

Mary Sawyer, a junior at Edison, will be working and studying during her vacation. “I’m going to work and try to relax a little bit and study for the ACT. Nothing too exciting. I’m not going anywhere.” She’s hoping the weather will be nice. “I’ll try to be outside…go to the park, go for a bike ride.”

She’s in good company. Debbie Robson, a mother of three, is also staying in town this month. Her family used to travel to Arizona to see her parents every spring break. As the kids have gotten older, however, it’s harder to get away. Daughter Emma, a junior at Booker T. Washington (BTW), is a competitive gymnast who’s busy with practices, and son Charlie, a senior, wants to work over the vacation. “He likes money,” Robson said with a laugh. Budgeting also comes into play. “We’re getting ready to send someone to college, so our discretionary income is going to be less than it has been in other years.”

Jennifer Sack, a mother of two high schoolers and a counselor at BTW, is also staying in town with her tribe. “Some of it is budget, and some of it is just not getting on the ball and planning something,” Sack said. In her opinion, not that many kids leave town for the break. “I haven’t heard of any senior trip plans.”

Sack, putting on her high school counselor hat, did note that a spring break trip can be a good opportunity to look at colleges. “We talk to the kids about taking advantage of any opportunity they have to visit college campuses. We encourage them to do that. Even if you’re traveling without that intent, schedule a visit and get a feel for the campus.”

Without a doubt, whiling away a week of March in Bermuda, Bahama, Come on Pretty Mama sounds pretty fabulous. For those of us staying around town, however, all is not lost. While we probably won’t be working on our tans, we might be working on our retirement savings and perhaps even getting our kids a step closer to college, or at least a decent ACT score.

JulieJulie Wenger Watson is a freelance writer who’s worked in all aspects of music promotion. She’s also Co-Director of “Live From Cain’s,” a public radio show pilot.

Categories: Tweens & Teens