1. ‘It would be educational and make me more well-rounded.’
Parents love that ‘educational’ and ‘well-rounded’ stuff. You love travel. Put two and two together and keep everyone happy. Shock them by doing your homework (Not school homework, although that wouldn’t hurt — I’m talking Google). You really want to go climb in New Mexico? Throw in some specific side trips to some sites you found that will teach you about Native American culture and history. They’ll be all over that. You really want to go chill on the beach in LA? Be smart about it — don’t forget to mention that it would be a great chance for you to brush up on your Spanish with the Latino population in SoCal. Tell them that you really are feeling limited lately in your textbook-based classroom education — you are super interested all of a sudden in learning about history and culture and geography, and you are on fire to do it hands-on.
2. ‘I want to help create an affordable family vacation.’
When they hear ‘I want to help’ and ‘affordable’ in the same sentence, they should already be half sold on whatever it is you are suggesting. I know many parents say that they would love to travel, but money is an issue. Prices are going up, their job doesn’t pay well, they have more important expenses, or they just can’t afford it right know are the responses us kids get way too often.
It’s your job to show them that you don’t always need a lot of money to travel. For example, you could do a house swap, where you house sit someone’s place and they house sit yours, so that neither one of you have to pay for an expensive hotel. You can also Couchsurf for a free place to crash, or volunteer as a family on a farm as WWOOFERS, where you get a free place to stay and food in exchange for giving a hand a few hours a day.
No excuses, people, no excuses.
3. ‘I feel like we could really bond on the road!’
Parents always seem to be looking for opportunities for the family to bond, whether it’s on family board game night or making you get out of bed to cheer on your brother at his 8am soccer game — so why not just step it up about 12 notches and bond on an epic road trip across the US? Close the deal by mentioning that you feel you haven’t spent much quality time together lately. Guilt tripping works wonders. Just sayin’.
4. ‘You guys really deserve a break.’
Mention that you’ve noticed that they’ve been really busy and stressed out about work, and that you care about them — and don’t hesitate to drop the bomb that that their mental and emotional health is the foundation of the mental and emotional health of the entire family (That’s advanced guilt tripping right there.) I mean, if you went to work every day from 8:00 A.M to 6:00 P.M and had to deal with a boss and a zillion electronic things buzzing and requiring your attention 24/7, or if you had to deal with managing 3 kids and their hectic school/sport/playdate/mealtime/bedtime schedules, a vacation would have to sound pretty good, no?
5. ‘I’m way too young to feel uninspired and in a rut!’
Explain to your parents the hard truth that their lives are boring; therefore your life is by default boring, and that is not fair. At all. So tell them you’ve been doing some thinking and you think everyone should do something that the family hasn’t done before — if it’s take a plane, book a flight. If it’s take a train, go get tickets. If it’s camping and hiking, start packing.
6. ‘Childhood goes so fast, and I want to create happy memories of this time together.’
Paint a very clear picture that before they know what hit, BAM, soon you’re going to be moving out and into your own place. And you would like to take good memories with you so that you’ll actually feel like coming back and visiting for Christmas.
No luck yet? Level 2: Say that when your mom is really old and has to eat her food out of a tube (because why would you take care of her if the family never had a chance to properly bond?!) and the highlight of her life is now bingo at the nursing home every Friday night, that at least she can remember that wonderful family trip you all took together once. So, really, this trip is more for her than it is for you.
Don’t stop until you finally get to go on an awesomely amazing trip with your family. And if they still say no after all of these efforts, well then, your parents really suck. I’m sorry. But you will be 18 and can go backpack the world without them and their zero sense of adventure soon enough.
7. Last ditch effort: harassment
If all else fails, plaster the fridge, the bathroom mirror, their car dashboard, their computer screen, whatever, with some travel quotes like these on Post-it notes. Multiple times a day. Seriously, your parents have to break at some point.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” — Mark Twain
“Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path.” — unknown
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” — St. Augustine
“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” — Moorish proverb
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain
“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” — Anatole France
“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” — Gustave Flaubert