Written by guest contributor SoberJulie.
As the proud mother of two girls who are now firmly set in the “tween” years at 10 and 12 years of age I am learning things…often the hard way. We are a family who loves to travel and because I am a travel writer, I now travel with tweens up to three times a year.
Travelling with my tweens has shown me how very different they are now from when they were little. Their wants and needs have shifted and there are considerations I take now so that their vacation experience is geared to make memories rather than ending up in battles. Yes, I typed battles because tweens can plant their feet in the proverbial sand so well…
10 tips for travel with tweens
1. Let them help plan the trip
These emerging adults want nothing more than to be heard! No matter how “fantastic” my ideas are, when I involve them in the vacation planning stage, they take ownership and the excitement is much higher. Get onto the internet with them and gather all of the info on the area that you can and let them tell you at least two choices of where they’d like to go.
2. Keep the first day quiet
Arriving at a resort is when I usually want to go, go, go! I love to check everything out right away, but my girls are just plain tired after flying. On our first day of arrival I plan to do nothing other than to get settled, find food, and wander around exploring the resort.
3. Excuse them from resort meetings and tours
When going to an all-inclusive resort there is usually a meeting with your tour reps the first day. Give your kids a pass to this and pass along any information they need to know.
I know, I know…you’re hoping to have the kids drop the phones and experience the place without WiFi but I’ve found that that’s wishful thinking for our family. Instead of cutting them off, I allow them to have a limited time allowance daily to check in with their friends, share photos and stay in touch.
5. Find new experiences
The tween generation are all about experiences! These don’t include museums, churches or quieter things that mom and dad might enjoy. We look for experiences that will burn off energy like snorkeling, zip-lining or Segway tours to make for kid friendly vacations.
6. Let them loose
Tweens yearn for freedom to explore on their own. Allow them to explore by themselves for a bit! We set strict boundaries within the resort and keep in touch via social media messaging throughout the day. They often end up introducing me to areas I hadn’t seen yet, such as a wonderful coffee bar or the best place to find crabs on the beach.
7. Provide photo challenges
We give the girls a challenge of finding certain photos each day. We make a list of topics before we arrive on our family vacation and include things like sunsets, beach, musician…these give the kids a reason to explore and immerse themselves in the trip.
8. White noise at bedtime
If you have 4 people in a room, chances are one of the tweens will get annoyed by the sounds of others as they are trying to go to sleep. We travel with a small portable speaker and play white noise as the day winds down to block out any sound irritants.
9. Money, honey
My tweens aren’t actually big shoppers but when we’re on vacation they suddenly want to buy EVERYTHING! Rather than get into daily disagreements, we set them a daily limit and encourage them to purchase whatever they want. We have come home with some of the worst trinkets but they are coveted and loved.
10. Gauge their moods
Travelling with tweens means that their moods can change drastically as the holiday unfolds. Be aware of these moods and be prepared to alter your schedules as necessary. Often I find that the girls need more quiet time after a few days, so I implement a “siesta” in the room to chill out for a few hours in the afternoon later in the week.
Each and every tween is different and often a mystical creature for the parent raising them. Be on your toes and watch for the unicorn moment where they look around and appreciate the experience!
Cameras up parents…travelling with your kids is AMAZING!
About SoberJulie: After facing her alcoholism and being involved in a car accident, Julie began writing at SoberJulie.com. This funky blogger takes the tired, unappetizing reputation about sobriety and turns it into a day at the circus. Jam-packed with ideas for food & drink recipes, travel tips and reviews, real stories of recovery, tips for sobriety, reflections on life and tons of ideas for leading a better (more creative, more enjoyable) life, SoberJulie.com has a bit of everything.