Why Your Next Family Vacation Should Look Like the "Hunger Games"

Parents, be warned: Katniss fever is on the horizon once again.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” the final installment of the global blockbuster “Hunger Games” franchise is coming to theaters on November 20.

Based on the young adult books by Suzanne Collins, the "Hunger Games" series has been particularly popular among teenagers, many of whom daydream of being their own Katniss Everdeen and embarking on a life-changing adventure.

That sense of adventure can easily translate into quality family time. Our most recent study looked at what kids want out of their parents and planned time together.

It might surprise you that 75% of teens want their parents deeply involved in their lives. Why? Because no matter the subject, teenagers want bragging rights. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle told us, “In this culture right now, a lot of kids are questioning whether or not their parents even care about them. Their ability to talk about their vacation is very important to them because it shows they have parents who care.”

While the "Hunger Games" may be a work of fiction, kids need time with their parents and family to shape what family therapist Michael Gurian calls the family story. “If we don’t give kids this time together, they’re not getting the family story,” shared Gurian. “The kids that give me the most worry are the ones moving into puberty—those years are especially sad when they don’t have a family story to tell, because their own lives are in such turmoil internally.”

The good news? Parents and kids don’t have to travel to Panem, either. Simple things rise to the top of kids' list of best or coolest thing a parent has done with them: camping, trips to amusements parks, zoos, aquariums, and other attractions, and parents joining school field trips or scouting trips.

Get ready for an "aww" moment. An 11-year-old girl in Pennsylvania summed up the sentiments of hundreds of respondents nicely, “It doesn't matter what we’re doing, it only matters that we’re having fun.” (Aww.)

Here are a four activities parents and kids can take part in during their next "Hunger Games"-inspired outing.

Practice your archery.

Katniss developed her archery expertise while hunting with a bow and arrows in District 12. It’s a skill she put to use during the Hunger Games, making her a fierce competitor. Sharpen your skills at one of the over 2,000 archery clubs and ranges included on this list

Go for a hike.

The 74th Hunger Games arena was a large expanse of various terrains, including dense woods full of tracker jackers and poison fog, and mountainous high areas. New to hiking? We've got you covered. 

Take a scenic train ride.

After the reaping in the first book, Katniss and Peeta go on a luxury train ride from District 12 to the Capitol. They take the train around the country again on their victory tour in “Catching Fire.” Fodor’s just recently highlighted 10 U.S. train trips to take, including Colorado's Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Massachusett’s Cape Cod Central Railroad. Or keep it simple by researching a local commuter rail to get you to the big city.

Have a feast.

Often, when food is scarce in the Arena, or some of the tributes need vital equipment, the Gamemakers will invite the players to a banquet at a well-known place, such as the Cornucopia, to induce them to fight. You can stage your own non-violent "Hunger Games" feast this Thanksgiving with recipes from Panem. Or avoid the food fight all together and take a day to prepare for Thanksgiving.

What matters most is spending quality time with your children, and the easiest way to make that time is to put unused vacation days to use. And may the odds that you build great family memories be forever in your favor.  

All images: Murray Close/Lionsgate

November 17, 2015