Just as parenting tweens requires different techniques than parenting little ones, so does traveling with tweens. Although it may feel like their hormones or changing attitudes require their own set of luggage, tweens are also more mobile, self-sufficient and interested in the world than little people. Traveling with tweens can create wonderful family memories and broaden their view of the world, be it by visiting a new city a few hours away or a new continent half-way around the globe.
Tween Us compiled a few helpful articles from the web offering advice on traveling with tweens. Like most topics on the internet, they offered some conflicting advice. Some experts said to engage your tween in the pretrip research, another suggested saving the destination as a surprise to be revealed upon departure (meaning no time to do any research). One article suggests limiting screen time, another said to permit limited phone time for contact with friends. Those decisions vary based on the tween and the existing family framework.
Conflicts aside, there were some helpful tips and Tween Us highlighted our favorites from each.
- Traveling with Tweens from FamilyVacationCritic.com
Favorite suggestion: “Engage them with music and theatre. They might resist, but consider introducing your children to some sort of cultural experience at least once on your vacation, since ‘tweens are old enough to sit through performances (unlike a preschooler who just might wail his way through the ballet).”
- Tips for Traveling with Tweens from DisneyFamily.com
Favorite suggestion: “Make it pop (culture): Kids who hate museums at home are likely to hate them on vacation too — unless they get a little help. Rev up an educational foray with some pop-culture inspiration. The Art Institute of Chicago isn’t just a museum — it’s where Ferris Buehler played hooky. Be creative. Pick out a famous painting — like the aforementioned AIC’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Seurat (also in Ferris Buehler) — and dare the kids to use their wiles to find it in the museum.”
- 6 Tips for Traveling With Tweens from Parenting.com
Favorite suggestion: “Create a wish list. Let each family member choose the top three things they want to do on the trip. Then include as many as your budget and time allows.”
5 tips for traveling with tweens from SheKnows.com
Favorite suggestion: “Don’t force your tween to participate. Allowing your tween to sulk and ruin a family vacation is unacceptable, but giving her the independence to hang back and watch from the sidelines may make travel with kids this age easier on everyone. However, getting your youngster involved in the beginning of the trip may give her the opportunity to meet another tween or two that she wants to hang with, so balance is key.”
Several of these site suggested bringing a friend along so that your tween has a buddy their age to keep them entertained and share the experience. While I think there is merit to that, I feel like finances and family dynamics could make that tricky. Also, family vacations feel to us like time to focus on, well, family time. What do you think – would you invite your tween’s friend on the family vacation? If you ask, is it presumed that you will shoulder at least some of the cost? Does the presence of another tween enhance or lessen your family time?
Please give your thoughts in the comment section.
Tomorrow: A great family weekend in St. Louis