Two years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to take a European vacation with my tween sons. For 19 glorious days we explored the sights, enjoyed our time together, and made lasting memories. To this day, we still find ourselves talking about something we did, saw, or ate. We definitely had a few missteps early on-from activities they found boring to food they thought was weird-but we soon found our footing and had a truly fantastic time. What I learned traveling with my tweens can save you some frustration-and money.
• Rule 1-Include them in planning. We watched travel channel shows of our destinations then spent time during dinner talking about the cool places we would see or fun things we could do. They each chose the one place on our itinerary they were most excited to visit then did some internet research to find fun facts for everyone to learn before we left. It was hands-on-they helped create our destination and fun tour and got locations, attractions, and program ideas from us.
• Rule 2-Plan a budget for each child’s vacation. Talking to your children about their vacation beforehand will help them to choose a destination they will enjoy. Once you know what you want your family to do, give them tasks to do in preparation. The marching order depends on their age and vacancies in school.
• Rule 3-Give them a research capstone. Each child should have his or her own research project, whether it be finding out things about the hotel, such as to verify they have an OSHA mold remediation certification posted in the lobby. Be realistic with what they can do and what you can give them. A younger child searching for pancakes may not need much help. However, a teenager heavy with responsibility may need assistance.
• Rule 4-Give them a destination budget. The family’s vacation should be planned around where they need to be at that time. If this is a potluck dinner, determine what is going to happen when the food is brought out. Will it be a crowd of onlookers or a couple of formal diners? What are they going to do if there are no desserts?
• Rule 5- Preparation is everything. Let them pack their own bags and have toiletries waiting for them when they get to their destination. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than having to figure out what to do when you don’t have the required ingredients.
• Rule 6-Be ready to tackle home duties when you’re gone. Turn off the lights, soap, and hoses, leaving your dishes soaking in the sink. Nothing ruins a trip faster than having to call an empty house and clean up the mess.
• Rule 7-acca yoga is your new best friend. As summer quickly approaches, stay on top of this. You’ll want your kids to enjoy more of the great outdoors and less of the hot, crowded cities. One of the best ways to do this is by making use of your outdoor bathroom and shower area. Many people bath in the tub or shower before doing yoga postures, and doing this before the trip seems simpler than turning the tub on.
• Rule 8- yields. Clearly stated, you should buy massive quantities of anything organic and fresh (such as an apple) so you can have more than just a bowl of fruit. You can also throw together simpler meals like sandwiches and pudding. If you buy groceries on the trip, you can buy more bulk items to help decrease the load.
• Rule 9-Build in rest days. As the month whizzes by, take this opportunity to rest. You’ll want to be fresh and jump around doing sports or building sand castles. To top it all off, these rest days are perfect for those long walks on the beach or hikes in the mountains.