Traveling with my children is a practiced art. I've been traveling with my children since my son was a baby. The more we do it, the better I get. Although, just when I think I have it mastered, I get tossed a curve ball and I am now traveling with tweens. These great little travelers of mine have traveled to Paris , China and Costa Rica and as they are getting older on me, the rules are changing. I've noticed it in the past couple of trips, so I would say around age 10 is when the changes begin.
The once traveling 'givens' I had in place have all changed, but it is not all that bad. It is just different now traveling with tweens instead of toddlers. Traveling with tweens is so much easier than traveling with toddlers. No more diapers, strollers or car seats to worry about. No nap time to squeeze in and we can stay up late! No need to constantly entertain the littles and I no longer have to carry a bag that weighs 17 thousand pounds through busy airports.
I recently took my two tween girls on a girls weekend only trip to Disney and here are a few of my tips that helped make the most out of our fun tween weekend.
Tips for trips with tweens:
Let them bring their electronics. Say What? Yep, bring them or you are going to be getting eye-rolls all the way to your destination. I set some limits and they have to pack a couple of books as well, but I do allow for the electronics. Don't forget the ear buds! I also pack in some snacks because traveling can be tough and tweens are hungry all the time.
I also say thank-you through the entire time we are traveling. "Thank you for your patience, I know how hard this is waiting for hours because our taxi driver was late and made us miss our flight" (yes, it totally happened) Thank you for not freaking out on me when this flight out has been fraught with delays!
I know it may be really hard to keep a trip under wraps, but some of the best vacation can be surprises, especially for children heading to a surprise location: DISNEY! I wouldn't spring a surprise trip on a tween as I was heading to the airport, but give a couple of hours notice so your tween can pack . . . and you know, say goodbye to their friends.
The theme of our mini weekend trip was Girls Only Weekend or it could have been Tween Girls Weekend. If you can't seem to locate a package tour with a theme, use your imagination and create your own themed vacation. Ask your tween, they are fabulous at bringing in original ideas.
PASS ON SOME RESPONSIBILITY
Some trips do require hours and hours of planning, and I can't really unload all that to my tweens. However, a little research on my tweens end will help them cast some votes on future vacations or what we actually do while on a vacation. Your tween could really find something they love to do while searching for an activity while on a trip. Once my tweens decide what they’d like to do, I help them make it happen while we are on our trip.
Walt Disney World allows my tweens to search for itineraries by interest. The Tweens page, is the perfect place for a tweens and teens to peruse options and get excited about the attractions that are offered.
While letting your tweens have some say in the planning, don't forgot that once you are at your destination, they have a say as well. It can really set the tone for the day. I asked my girls where they wanted to start out, what activities were must-do or must-see and we went from there. Also, letting loose on the time . . . as in, stay up late . . . like really late. Take advantage of those Magic Hours! You will be the coolest mom in the nation!
LET GO-HAVE FUN
You have all the cute images already of your tweens in awe of Disney princesses and characters. Your girls are no longer going to skip through the parks in beautiful princess dresses and your sons are no longer going to dress like Captain Jack Sparrow. So, just let go and have fun with this age. You can actually carry on a conversation about how spectacular the parades are or how frightening the Tower of Terror is!
While your tween may roll your eyes about standing in line for hours to meet Elsa and Anna, she won't roll her eyes at you for roller coasters and Dole Whips! The best part is how much fun you can have together now. Last, but not least, relax. No more need for stressing about naps, diapers and wipes. Have some some idea of plans for the day, but roll with whatever happens.
Mostly, have fun traveling with the tweens. Concentrate on making magical memories.