Traveling with kids is a practiced art. The more you do it, the better you get.Just when you think you mastered it, another curveball comes your way. That great little traveller you’ve taken to Paris and Spain, turns into a tween and all the rules change. It usually happens somewhere between 9 and 10 years-old, and you may not realize its happened until you’re on a plane halfway around the world.
Take a deep breath. The once traveling “givens” may have changed, but it’s not as bad as it might seem.
Tips for planning trips with tweens:
Consider All-Inclusive Resort Vacations
I’ve often said my favorite trips require a passport, but there’s something to be said for a trip that requires me to do next to nothing short of making a reservation. My family has done more than a few all-inclusive resort vacations. There are definitely things to ask questions about before you make the reservation, like restaurants, accommodation options and kid-focused activities. The food will typically not excite a “foodie”, think buffets and lots of noise, but the plus side to all-inclusives is they work to offer something for everyone.
That’s huge in the tween crowds. While one of your tweens is taking surfing lessons, another may be in the art studio learning a local craft, and if you still have a little one, they can be in the kids club getting their face painted. And when the kids are off having a good time, parents can pick what truly interests them and go for it. Another huge perk with all-inclusives is that you can leave your wallet in your room. No worrying about the kids having money to buy a drink or get some food. You pay in advance.While it may sound like a dream vacation to some, it’s not a family-togetherness type of trip. Be prepared for some days where you have breakfast with the kids and don’t seem them again until it’s time for dinner. That’s hard for some parents.
If you want an easy way to search for all-inclusive properties and pricing, FamilyGetaway features an array of all-inclusive packages on their All Inclusive Travel page. There are quite a few discounted options in Mexico, as well as the Caribbean.
Pass On Some Responsibility
When my daughters were 2 and 4 years-old, we took our first big family trip to Japan. I spent hours planning everything, taking no chances. It was a ton of work, but it paid off tenfold during the trip. I don’t do it all anymore. I’ve passed some jobs to my girls.OK, obviously at 10 and 12, they aren’t booking hotel rooms or arranging flights, but the internet puts so much within their reach. A little research helps them cast their votes when we decide on where we’re headed next. More importantly, it lets them find that special something they’d really like to do while on the trip. It’s a piece of the trip they own, so to speak. We’re planning a trip to Costa Rica in the spring and for the kids, it’s all about action and adventure via zip-lines. Once your kids decide what they’d like to do, help them make it happen while you’re on your trip.
FamilyGetaway allows you to search for packages by Interests. The Active & Adventure page, is the perfect place for a tweens and teens to peruse options and get excited about a destination.
Older Kids Want Space
Don’t skimp on space! You wouldn’t dream of sharing a room with your kids at home, why would you want to do it on vacation? Budgets are budgets and decisions have to be made. But I would rather stay at a more economical hotel and have my space then stuff everyone into one room at a 5-star hotel. The first time you let the tweens have a place of their own can be tough. You’ll worry a bit (or more) when bedtime arrives, but again, take a deep breath. Most hotels offer two (or more) keys at check-in. Keep one to the kid’s room for yourself, so you can get in when needed. Be forewarned, the first time you give this responsibility to your tweens, they will most likely lock themselves out of their room multiple times. Part of the learning curve.
Contact with Home
If your tween is worried they might be missing out on things at home, a trip can go south in a heartbeat. Parental reassurance only goes so far when social status is at play. Thanks to the internet, staying in touch is as easy as pulling out your technological device of choice (iTouch, iPhone, iPad) and jumping on the interet. All good holiday gift ideas for jetsetting tweens! Sending pictures to friends back home just seems to have more payoff than postcards. And once tweens realize they’re truly not missing much at home, they just might realize they’re on a fabulous vacation.
Take a Surprise Trip
Some of the best trips my family has taken are the ones the kids didn’t know about.It’s hard to keep under wraps, but surprise vacations are worth the sneaking around. We were headed to Florida for a surprise birthday party for my father. There was no way my girls would be able to keep the secret, so we didn’t tell them a thing. We went to dinner with some friends in San Francisco, and instead of heading home, we headed to the airport, and grabbed the bags out of the trunk. It was a week of pure glee.
Now that they’re tweens, I’d give them a little more notice, primarily so I wouldn’t have to pack their bags. I think it would be fun to announce they got a few hours to pack their bags and just go. The excitement would be next to impossible to contain.
It seems like a given, but it’s something that often gets forgotten. Make sure you give the family some time to relax. Tweens like to hang out by the pool, especially when it’s a fantastic swimming pool (check out FamilyGetaway’s Cool Pools page for ideas), and read a good book just as much as many adults.
Traveling with tweens doesn’t have to mean trouble. They may have a different way of traveling, but it has some great perks. Watch for them, and enjoy!
This post was sponsored by FamilyGetaway.com, the first advertiser on the Family Travel Ad Network, a partnership among Ciao Bambino, Delicious Baby, Travel Savvy Mom, The Vacation Gals, Trekaroo, See Jane Fly, and Traveling Mom.
FamilyGetaway is also running a special where you get $100 off your first purchase when you subscribe to their Family Travel Newsletter.
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