Road Trips with Tweens: Tips for Happy Traveling with Your 8-12-Year-Old.

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( Maybe you’re planning to visit relatives. Perhaps your family is embarking on a well-deserved vacation. No matter the reason, driving hundreds of miles with your offspring can be an ordeal. 

Although you aren’t actually cramming your kids into the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, it’s normal to feel like you’re recreating National Lampoon’s Vacation. Plus, if you’ve ever traveled with toddlers, your memories may not be that pleasant. The good news is that if your children are now eight to twelve years old, then they are the perfect age for family road trips. They’re curious, able to contribute, and don’t completely hate spending time with “the fam.” So here are five tips to help you have a fun, memorable road trip with your tweens.

Plan Together

Chances are you haven’t used a paper map in a while. They might feel obsolete for navigation, but they are perfect for trip planning. If you already have a destination, buy a map that shows the route. If you are undecided, purchase several maps for possible options. Lay them out on the dinner table and have a family meeting. Discuss different ways of reaching your destination along with estimated trip times. Mention places you’ll see along the way. Then let your young ones loose on the wonderful worldwide web. You may be pleasantly surprised at the nifty ideas they develop.


Before you depart, purchase journals for each of your children. You can do this together or give them as a surprise gift before you leave. Besides recording their thoughts and feelings along the way, your kids can use these books as a repository for souvenirs. That diner napkin or coaster from a local eatery may be trash to you, but taping a clean one in the book means memories for them. Buying new journals with each trip means you’ll have more than a collection. You’ll have a keepsake.

Back to Nature

The National Park Foundation gets how important our pristine public lands can be to tweens and their families. That’s why it created the Every Kid Outdoors initiative. This gives every fourth grade student in the country free access to U.S. national parks. The pass is available starting September 1 and is good throughout the fourth-grade school year until August 31. 

Even if your tweens aren’t in fourth grade, you should consider visiting one of the country’s many national parks. Exploring nature is a great way to bond and has proven benefits for mental health.

Limit Tech

Rationing screen time can help you travel as a family rather than a cluster of solo units. Plan a playlist before you leave that includes each member’s favorite songs. Bring some fun games or activities. Buy actual books for quiet reading. Your tweens will probably want to keep in touch with friends or post pictures of the trip. Give them the freedom to do so. Just limit their tech until the day’s miles are almost done. This is the best time to let everyone enjoy their tablets or phones.


Your growing tweens are hungry. Packing snacks will make the trip more enjoyable and reduce tempers. Prepare individual containers with their favorite options. Try to avoid choices that are sticky or stinky.

Most of all, be realistic. Fourteen hours of nonstop travel won’t be fun for anyone. Plan to make plenty of stops. 

No trip is perfect. You’ll want to make sure you have access to roadside assistance. If you or your loved ones are injured by a reckless driver, you may need skilled legal advice like that provided by a respected Manhattan car accident lawyer.

Most of all, budget the time for unplanned roadside attractions. Consider adding an extra day. Remember when it comes to happy roadtripping with tweens, the journey is the destination.

Staff Writer; Roy Carter