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Back Seat Divers

By Julie Miller and Joana Miller (aged 15)

Holidays with TeensJulie Miller
As a travel writer, I look forward to the rare occasion when I can invite my daughter along as my companion, sharing the wonderful experience of travelling together and experiencing things as a family unit. Unfortunately, it is at this special time that the ‘generation gap’ rears its ugly head, and I begin to wonder if my daughter and I do, in fact, inhabit the same planet!

On our last jaunt to New Zealand, I took the liberty of inviting my daughter’s best friend along, thinking that it would provide extra companionship for us both. What I failed to anticipate, however, was that I would be alienated by these strange creatures immersed in their own little universe of music, clothes, shopping and boys. Curled up in the back seat of the car, iPods fixed firmly in their ears and the occasional grunt emanating from their mouths, New Zealand passed them by as innocuously as the suburbs of Sydney! Honestly, they could have been anywhere in the world – as long as the girls had their music, some money and each other, they were in seventh heaven!

Afterwards, I was told they’d had a “great time, learned ‘heaps’ and loved the sights of the North Island.” I was stunned that they even knew where they had been!

But don’t take it from me – let’s hear from the teenager herself exactly what makes HER happy while travelling with her mother…

Joana Miller
Possibly one of the most wondrous things my mother has said to me in the past year is, “Why don’t you bring a friend along to New Zealand?” I thought I was going to have the best time in the world – just hanging around with my best friend in a new place, discovering new things, and of course new shops.

However, going on a holiday with your mother and your best friend isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

First of all, your parents are going to expect a bit of attention, so the daily gossip is going to have to wait until your mum or dad get out of the car to fill up the tank with petrol. To avoid silence in the car, many teenagers just ramble about things that don’t really bear any relevance to anything. This is when you start to get called ‘Beavis and Butthead’ – not the greatest names to be called when your parents are telling their friends about the ‘wonderful’ time we had travelling together. To avoid this, I would suggest trying to talk about the scenery, and how lovely it is to be in this beautiful, exotic place.

As you all should know, teenagers cannot live without some sort of music–playing contraption, hence the reason we seem to be carrying around multiple packets of batteries at all times.

On holidays, a Discman or an iPod is a necessity, because it’s a great way to get away from many boring things that occur, such as travelling though the countryside with your mum constantly pointing out the cows and the horses as you drive by.

This can cause a problem – parents in the front seat, you and your best friend in the back, just quietly taking in the scenery while Holidays with Teenslistening to the peaceful sound of an old rocker whispering poetry in your ear. Problem is, your parents in the front seat need someone to talk to, otherwise they will get the idea that they are just your ‘chauffeur’.

Of course, there are restrictions that parents can make, but this will inevitably result in a grunting, moaning, unhappy teenager. The best idea is to actually avoid long car trips altogether and plan new and exciting activities everyday. Hopefully, your parents won’t make you go on long hikes though the mountains of Nepal, where there are no shops, no music and basically no civilisation. We all know we would rather be shopping, at the beach, watching movies or at a theme park.

So plan your holidays with us kids carefully – or put up with a bit of moaning and groaning from the back seat!

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