Traveling with your teen can be a great experience, but you need to involve him/her from the very start and take his/her interests into account. Your teen is much more likely to get excited (and stay excited) about the family vacation if he/she has a hand is either choosing the place or at least some of the activities. So get your teen involved at the planning stage.
Since your teen is helping with planning, that should make it easy to include activities that your teen will particularly like. Physical activities are especially good choices, as they burn off some of your teen’s energy, which means less attitude later in the day. If the entire family joins your teen in these activities, it’s a great way for family bonding in a new way, with your teen as the leader. Also remember that teens are always very social. If you can arrange for one of your teen’s friends to join you, that can help keep your teen engaged. At the very least, select a vacation destination where your teen is likely to meet other teens. If your teen has no one his/her age to talk to, it will be a very long trip for him/her (and for you).
Also, since this is a vacation, lighten up a bit on the rules. What are the little indulgences you allow yourself “since you’re on vacation?” Dessert more often? Staying out/up later than usual? Give your teen some of these same privileges. If you do let your teen explore on his/her own (or with other teens), make sure he/she has your hotel information written down and a map. Try to stay in one place for at least four or five days. That way, by day three, your teen might be familiar enough with the general surroundings, and you’ll both more comfortable with him/her heading out alone.
If you’re driving on your vacation and your teen is old enough, allow him to do some of the driving. However, also let him have his music, perhaps a DVD player that plugs into the car lighter, or games on hand.