The teenager slouched in the backseat of the car, covering his ears with headphones and keeping his eyes peeled to his smartphone. He occasionally speaks up and interacts with his parents—but only to complain about being bored.
This scenario may be what you imagine when you think of traveling with teens and tweens. My previous post for the Jayco Journal Unplugging Teens & Tweens for Travel might have made it sound like our technology-obsessed boys were always grumpy about leaving home. However, I want to assure you that this is not always the case. In fact, we share many wonderful moments with our sons while on the road.
Older kids have a reputation for being obsessed with friends, technology, and their own lives, and teens and tweens aren’t necessarily eager to do what their parents want to do. Despites these challenges, there are plenty of reasons why this age group makes for amazing travel companions.
For parents, here are six great benefits of traveling with teens and tweens:
1) Teens/tweens require less care.
Several years ago, there was a day when we hopped in our car with our boys and realized they could both buckle themselves in. Soon, they began to manage their own restroom needs, tie their own shoes, and brush their teeth without assistance. This was a moment of much rejoicing because our lives were suddenly that much easier. Traveling with teens and tweens is great because they require less parental care. They can manage many of their own needs, including packing, hygiene, and food, and you no longer have to plan around naptime. With much less oversight of the children required, parents find themselves with more time to relax. You may even be able to sneak out for a date night while on vacation once the kids are mature enough.
2) Teens/tweens are natural minimalists.
Strollers be gone! There comes a day when your children no longer need a bevy of special supplies every time you leave the house. No more sippy cups, no more diapers, and no more toys. Traveling with teens and tweens means you can trek about unencumbered by the amount of stuff you have to carry with younger kids. Older kids fit into the RV lifestyle beautifully.
3) Teens/tweens will actually remember these trips.
Teens and tweens are old enough that the memories you make on your travels may stick with them for the rest of their lives. Of course, I’m not implying that traveling with younger kids is a waste of time; however, there is something quite lovely about imagining our boys recounting our adventures with their own children someday.
4) Teens/tweens understand so much more.
Our travels have taken us to a number of historical and geological sites. We have amazingly rich conversations with our sons as they make connections between what we are seeing and what they’ve learned about in school. Older kids have a wealth of background information to draw from, which enriches their travels and yours. As they continue on in school and in life, your adventures will also help provide context and understanding for the many lessons they will learn.
5) You can have bigger adventures with teens and tweens.
Older kids are physically able to do more than younger kids, making it possible for you to take them on bigger adventures. They can hike and bike further, paddle their own boats, and share in many of the kinds of activities adults enjoy. Another bonus, they never have to be carried! If you are traveling with teens and tweens, you can do things you wouldn’t have attempted with younger children. And, you may even find them pulling you along to try things outside of your comfort zone.
6) Traveling provides time for bonding with teens and tweens.
With technology, social lives, jobs, and homework tugging at your teen’s time, it can be hard to find time to spend together, and in the rare quiet moments, you may all be too tire to interact much. People are just too busy. Luckily, camping takes you worlds away. Our Jayco travel trailer is on the smaller side, which means we share 150 square feet with our boys. In some ways, it can be annoying to squash our family into this small space, with no separate rooms for us to recede into. However, this proximity ensures maximum bonding. We only have a few summers left before our boys leave for college, and I feel compelled to make the most of them, bonding in ways we wouldn’t at home. Whether you are hanging out in the trailer, sitting around a campfire, or taking in the beautiful sights, your RV adventures provide quality time together as a family.
When it comes to RV travel, my only regret is that we didn’t start sooner. However, I will never regret the time we’ve spent traveling with our older sons. Though teens and tweens sometimes get a bad rap, I assure you, they are actually great travel companions. So, don’t hesitate to load those resistors in the car and hit the road for some epic RV adventures.
Kerri Cox writes about her family and RV travel at travelswithbirdy.com. You can also follow their adventures on Twitter (@travelwithbirdy) and Instagram (@travelswithbirdy).