If you’ve been reading this blog, or any of my writing over on the many sites I contribute to from time to time, you know I’m a HUGE traveler and have taken my kids pretty much everywhere. From the moment they came out of my belly, they became world travelers – at first because my husband and I love to travel and refused to let parenting stop us, and then later because of my work, both as a marketer and as a travel writer.
Well, it appears that life as we once knew it has come to an end. Gone are the days where we could pick up and head to a place, expecting to have a lovely family vacation – one that involves doing new things together, indulging in new experiences and cuisine together, planning to wake up and go, go, go.
Why? One simple reason. My daughter is nearly 13. She’s not a baby anymore. She has a mind of her own. She’s independent. All she wants to do it sit around and watch Netflix on the iPad.
On a recent trip to Scranton, Pennsylvania (more on that soon), with her and my husband, I noticed the obvious change for the first time. At first I was a bit miffed – after all, we’ve been traveling successfully as a family for years and it’s a HUGE part of our lives. But I soon accepted her new ways and came to terms with what is probably the rest of our lives.
As a result, I have a few helpful tips for traveling with tweens. Note I am new at this phase, so give me a bit of legroom.
- Give them options. If you’re going to a museum, explain how much you’d like them to come, but if they don’t want to, it’s okay. Leave them behind with the full knowledge that they will be participating in other parts of the trip.
- Break up your day. If you have a packed itinerary, be sure to include time for tweens to stop and do their own thing.
- Plan activities with tween appeal. If you know your child likes art, plan a trip to a museum. Do things you know won’t garner complaints, as much as possible, and tell them to Snapchat pictures of where you are to their friends. Oh, and shopping. They love to shop. Find a mall or shopaholic part of town.
- Tweens like food. Take your kids to interesting restaurants so that they can Instagram and Pinterest beautiful images of cuisine. Go to places like Hibachi where food is prepared before your eyes, make it fun.
- Take time out and leave them alone. Tweens need space. I saw it so I suggested to my husband that we go for a drink. She was able to revitalize, get her Netflix fix, and come out happy afterwards.
Most importantly, accept that they’re growing up and remember how puberty was when you were younger. My daughter has outgrown certain activities – like steam train rides heading to meet Santa Claus and that is just the way it is. They have so many wonderful character traits and you can talk to them about a whole new slate of topics and take in travel through a new set of eyes. Enjoy every minute – time is ticking.