This is a sponsored guest post. Driving with your children can be a blast, and it certainly is a great bonding experience. This is the perfect time to show the kids all the country has to offer, get them involved in your favorite roadside games, and explore roadside attractions that you’d miss out on if you were flying. While there are plenty of benefits to taking a road trip with your children, how you prepare for it depends on their ages. If you’re planning a road trip, by now you’ve probably got a nice, able-bodied car with great mileage, have scored competitive auto insurance quotes, and had your vehicle checked to ensure nothing can go wrong during your trip. Though the car might be ready for the road, different age levels have different ways of also being ready, and will enjoy the trip best if you cater well to their age group. Today, I want to talk about catering specifically to pre-teens, or tweens. This is the age group between 8 and 12, and these “between” years can be tricky. With the right preparation, your road trip can offer the memories of a lifetime. We had a blast on our 4th of July road trip to Nana’s house, and you can, too! Here are my tips for a successful road trip with your pre-teens.
Give Them Ample Time To Pack When you give your tweens ample time to pack, there’s less of a hasty rush on the day of. Let them know three to four days ahead of time that they should begin packing early, and give them a list of what to include. By providing them with a guiding list, this gives them their own sense of independence. For example, you might say, “Pack five shirts,” which allows them to pick which five shirts they want to bring. Have them keep their packed belongings separate, and review it the day before.
Provide Movie Entertainment All pre-teens love a good movie, and you’ll be surprised at how peaceful your trips are when you download some movies for them to watch on the road. On our road trip, my kids watched a Dreamworks animated film called Home. For that entire block of time, I could hear nothing in the backseat but giggles from the kiddos. Movies provide your children with entertainment while providing you with some time to relax and enjoy the open road. Since Netflix and Amazon Prime now allow you to download movies for later views, sit down with your kids to pick out some of their favorites ahead of time. Ideally, you’d have a tablet for each child, but sometimes this isn’t always the case. If you only have a single tablet, consider buying a tablet holder for the back seat. These 360-degree devices attach to the back of the front seats for easy viewing for all backseat parties. Check out Amazon’s list of best-selling tablet mount devices for a versatile selection. To boost the sound, connect the tablet to a Bluetooth speaker to make it easier for everyone to hear. Otherwise, you might want to try using a headphone splitter, which allows everyone in the back to listen on their own headphones.
Plan The Trip Together Gather your family for a vacation planning meeting, and allow your tweens to play a part. Let them know the destination, and pull out a map to show them the route. By now, kids know how to Google things and research YouTube videos. If they discover any roadside attractions, cool restaurants, and photo opportunities along the way, let them add it to the itinerary. This is particularly important for longer road trips. If you have to stay in a hotel during the trip, let them choose between pre-selected options.
Pack A Surprise Your kids are still young, and they’re suckers for a great toy. Buy something for them in advance, and prepare to give it to them during the road trip. Depending on your children, you might want to refrain from telling them you’ve purchased a gift until you’re ready to give it to them. This will prevent you from hearing, “When are we going to get our surprise?” for hours on end. A good time to give them their gift is about halfway through the trip, or whenever they start to get antsy. Let them know that you’re going to reward them for their good behavior, and then pull out your surprise when the time is right!
Collaborate On Music On every road trip, music can play a major role. Unfortunately for you, your children’s music might dominate the trip, but that’s okay, because the happier they are, the smoother the ride. Start a collaborative playlist on Spotify or iTunes, and have the family add songs that they want. You can throw in a few of your own kid-friendly choices too, but let the kids take the lead here. You might also want to consider listening to pre-teen focused podcasts. These can help you switch up the sound, and many of the podcasts are both entertaining and educational. The team over at Fatherly have curated this list of best podcasts for kids that adults will like, too. Check it out and consider adding a few to the queue.