Making sure our teenagers understand the world is so much bigger than their problems became a priority for my husband and I a few years ago. We decided if their world views were to be positive, they must actually see the world. We came up with a plan and made a list of all the places we wanted them to see. We felt that in general their life was a vacation compared to the rest of the teenagers in the word and decided our family vacations would be centred around learning. Truth is, I have learned as much as they have. Travelling with our kids teaches us new things about who they are and gives us a glimpse into the future adult they are becoming.
This was a major ah-ha moment for me when we took our 14 year-old daughter with us on a recent trip to Malta. My husband was travelling for work and we decided tagging along was a good idea. As it turned out, our daughter Chelsea was studying the crusades in school and Malta was ground zero for crusades history.
I have to admit, I had to look up WHERE Malta was. It’s an island off the coast of Sicily and North Africa. It’s a sparkling oasis in the blue Mediterranean water and the perfect place to relax and learn! (about our teen)
Here’s what travelling to Malta taught us about Chelsea, our 14 year-old.
- She’s capable enough to plan an itinerary. Chelsea took charge and dove deep into researching what she wanted to accomplish on the trip. If she told us we needed to see it, we did.
- Teenagers like to teach you a thing or two. Because she was mostly in charge, I found myself asking her questions about the things we were seeing. Chelsea was a walking tour guide at times and this allowed us to have many interesting conversations about the Arabic influence in Malta. I’m quite confident that topic would have never come up at our dinner table.
- Teenagers are still kids at heart. Walking past monuments and statues doesn’t get old when you’ve got a kid wanting to stop and pose for funny pictures. I mean how can you not laugh.
- Teenagers are capable of deep thinking. On an Uber ride to M’Dina, we drove past a street crowded with refugees standing on the sidewalks. It was heartbreaking to see so many young adults waiting by a curb hoping someone would pick them up to work for the day. Chelsea asked the driver about what we were seeing and we got a local’s viewpoint about the refugee crisis and how it’s impacted Malta. Malta has more refugees per capita than any other country. This is EXACTLY what we want our kids to see and learn about when they travel. Chelsea is more keenly aware of a global issue because she saw it and talked to someone about it.
- Teenagers won’t eat your dinner but they will eat like a local when you travel. I have no idea why this is true but if my dinners take a back burner to trying new dishes while on the road, I’m okay with that. Chelsea devoured oysters on the half shell, ate squid with black ink and helped us look less ridiculous when we ordered 5 pieces of cake. It’s for the kid – right!
- “Parkour Parkour.” There wasn’t a sidewalk, doorway, parking meter or curb that didn’t serve as a launching pad for this parity of the famous Office episode. “Gainer, double back flip, side kicking our way all over Malta. This just added to the fun of being with our 14 year-old. Her playful nature came out while sight seeing and I kept telling her, “Chelsea, you are so funny!” To which she replied, “I’ve always been funny.” She’s right, she has always been funny but life makes you forget these fun quirks about your teen. Being on vacation together helps you remember them and gives you the time to take note!
The water is pristine. It really looks and feels like something out of this world. The colour is so blue your hands actually glow blue! The reflection of the sand and the sun will have you wanting to give Mother Nature a standing ovation. Views like this one of the Blue Grotto don’t go unnoticed or unappreciated by teenagers.
I mean cannon bombing into a pool of perfect water, how can you not just jump right in behind them! (and I did… this caused hysterics and teasing but it was worth it) The Westin Dragonara Resort in St.Jullian’s offers the perfect pool life!
Chelsea acted as our tour guide and happily showed us around old town Valetta. Thanks to her, I now know this entire city was fortified in under 10 months. If it’s interesting to a teen, it’s interesting to an adult.
If there’s a door, go through it! When Chelsea is grown up, I’ll look at this picture and remember her fun spark for life and adventure. I’ll remember how she took charge and really helped us make the most of Malta. I’ll remember how she pushed me in the pool, how awestruck she was over the colour of the Mediterranean, how she devoured oysters and how she kept us laughing. I know she’ll never look at a refugee the same again, I know she recognizes her world is bigger than her phone and her friends, and I know she’ll remember that her parents really weren’t that bad.