We are often traveling with tweens (technically my son is a teen now but I don’t like to admit that!). I hear many people groan about traveling with kids of this age group (teens too). We have found that just a bit of planning can make traveling with tweens easy and fun for the whole family. Some of our best memories are made in the car on the way to or from our destination. Yes, even on LONG road trips.
Traveling with Tweens
The most important part of traveling with tweens is including them in the planning process. They need to feel useful and a good boost in self-esteem does wonders for the attitude. Let them have a say in everything from where you are going, your lodging, making stops (truck stops are fun!), and of course the packing. Give them a few options, make lists, and have at it.
Planning your destination, when traveling with tweens, can be so fun. We really like to surprise our kids with day trips and excursions. This cuts down on any complaining because they have to hurry to be ready to go. There is also a good deal of excitement built into a surprise trip. Keep certain things secret, to be revealed along the way. They’ll behave like angels to know a secret! Other options are throwing darts at a map or drawing locations from a hat or jar. Let everyone pick a spot, throw them all together and then draw names to see who gets to draw from the locations. All’s fair when you pick at random!
Now that your location is set, let’s think about packing. This can be the worst part of traveling with tweens! What to wear? Where to wear it? Making this fun will take the edge off and let everyone pick their own outfits, or at least think they are. Here is how I do it –
- Let everyone participate in making a list of all the items needed for the destination type (beach, snow, mountains, etc).
- Let everyone take guesses on how many of each item they will need, depending on the length of stay. (Only you know the real answer!)
- Make a list for each person of items and quantities. Checking items off lists always feels great!
- Pick a location for each person to lay their items out for a final inspection by you.
- Set a stopwatch or timer and see who can pack their bags the neatest in the shortest time. GO!
- Everyone puts their own luggage into the car.
- You’re packed!
So…you have a destination AND the whole family is packed. See? Traveling with tweens just got easier! What’s next?
Make it Fun
The best part about traveling with tweens is the fun you can have. It gives them a chance to be a “kid” again. While packing you can start a conversation about their favorite games they played in the car when they were younger. From punch buggy to I Spy, you may be surprised at what they remember and what memories is conjures up! Take notes and randomly start these games along the way. They will love it and so will you. Making new memories is what it’s all about!
Of course, you always have the electronics options. If they have handheld electronics, and you want to allow them on the trip, set limitations in advance. Lay out exactly who can play what or watch what. They can swap at certain stops or mile markers. Limit the time as well. Make sure they’re interacting with the family and not just hidden behind a screen. Even if they grumble, they’ll be glad you made sure they have memories for a lifetime.
Last, but not least, relax. Don’t worry about the planning, packing and entertainment. Have some ideas but don’t set them in stone. Go with the flow and enjoy the time traveling with tweens. Concentrate on making memories and be less concerned with how your son folded his pants.