Eight years ago, we moved from Chicago, Illinois to Tucson, Arizona. We still had family in Michigan, so we have made the road trip across 1,900 miles one way to visit family six times now. When we made the first trip, our kids were 10, 5, and 4. Our most recent trip was just a few weeks ago, and the kids are 18, 13, and 12. Traveling with them now is much easier, but regardless, the trip is a long one. We’ve learned many road trip tips when traveling with tweens. If you’re traveling with kids in the eight to 12-year-old age range, these tips may help your family survive a long road trip.
Road Trip Tips When Traveling with Tweens
Tweens are easier to travel with than younger kids, but they still can get bored quickly. Try these tips to make the trip go faster.
Make Maps for Them
I mapped out our route on Google Maps, magnified it, and printed it out. Then, I made binders for each kid with the seven pages showing the route. I put the pages in plastic page protectors and gave the kids dry erase markers. They marked on the pages as we passed areas, so they could see how much progress we had made and how much more we had to go. I also marked where we were stopping each night to make the three-day trip seem less daunting.
Have Them Pick a Fun Activity
Before we left, each child researched the route and found one fun thing they wanted to do. Our favorite activity that a child picked was Cadillac Ranch in Texas. We brought along some spray paint and joined others in spray painting the upside-down cars planted in the ground. When we have driven by later, other times we are making the trip, the kids still talk about the fun they had and how weird the attraction is.
Pack Food. . .and More Food
Tweens are hungry most of the time, especially on a road trip. We pack sandwiches and chips for lunch, but we also pack A LOT of snacks. Popular snacks include beef jerky, pretzels, granola bars, squeezable apple sauce, squeezable pudding, and fruit. Make sure the kids can easily access the snacks.
Our drive is so long that it takes us 10 to 12 hours of driving each day to get to Michigan in three days. Add in a fun stop, and there’s not much time for anything else.
When we stop for gas, we also use the restrooms and get out our sandwiches, if it’s lunchtime. When we combine all of our stops in one, we only stop for 10 or 15 minutes before we’re on the road again for another three to four hours. We have found Love’s Travel Centers have the cleanest restrooms.
Traveling with tweens is less stressful than traveling with younger kids, but they can still get bored and antsy on long road trips. Use these road trip tips when traveling with tweens for a smoother, more entertaining drive.
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Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in Arizona where she dislikes the summer heat but loves the natural beauty of the area.