I am trying to persuade my teenager to come on holiday. I don't know why. She'll only whinge and make me feel rotten in my swimsuit. "Do you have to wear that at your age," she'll groan, and insist on sitting on the other side of the pool so my thighs don't embarrass her. So when a teenage reader of this column, Lavanya Malhotra, got in touch, I was thrilled. Sensing I was struggling with my 16-year-old, she had some advice on how to make a family holiday less hormonally challenging.
Firstly, Lavanya says, I'm wrong about being well prepared. I shouldn't bang on about looking at guidebooks before you leave. I just need to dig out a few "weird facts" from Google on where we're going, the weirder the better. That's what teenagers want. So far, sound advice, but then Lavanya says, "a mobile phone with a camera would come in handy". Oh no it wouldn't. I've let my teenager take her mobile on holiday before. Never again. It's too much of a temptation not to make calls and take pictures. On one city break, I spent more on her roaming charges than our accommodation.
But one bit of kit Lavanya lists is a rather good idea: a personal pair of binoculars. I sniff the word "personal" is very important here, as teenagers like to think that they hold something in their sweaty palm belonging entirely to them, not just on loan from their despised parents. The binoculars, says Lavanya, will be extremely useful when "chasing gazelles in the desert, tracking elephant droppings in the savannah or bird watching in a tropical jungle".
I suggest they could be of equal benefit on a city break. When we stayed in our Paris apartment, the views across the city were spectacular. Binoculars would have made seeking out the Sacre Coeur more interesting to my teenager, who has an extraordinary capacity to just sit and stare for a very long time. There are a few other people, apart from Lavanya, making suggestions for travelling with older children. Whatley Manor, an elegant manor house in the heart of the English Cotswolds, is running Teen Tuesday in their private cinema, starting in August with Confessions of a Shopaholic (www.whatleymanor.com). But I don't think Whatley has quite understood what attracts teenage guests. To attend a movie, "teenagers must be accompanied by an adult". I know mine would refuse to go.
Do you have family travel tips that you'd like to share? E-mail Dea at firstname.lastname@example.org