How to Travel with a Tween and Survive!

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We are about to embark on the tween years very soon over here at Food, Family, and Chaos! My days will soon be filled with attitudes, drama, and lots of eye rolls. Someone save me, please!

Tweenagers can be hard to deal with at times. Then you add a family vacation in the mix and it can be a recipe for disaster. I’m here to give you the pep talk and tell you that you can do it!

Here are our top tips to helping you survive a family vacation with a tween.

1. Download movies to an iPad before you leave for the airport.

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but anyone who has ever traveled with children knows that an iPad can literally save the day. We went on a recent vacation and neglected to download any movies because we just figured we would do it at the airport while we waited. To our shock, the wifi at the airport wasn’t working (because isn’t wifi always soooo dependable.) Needless to say, it was a rough 3-hour flight for both kids and parents.

It’s also a good reminder to bring comfortable headphones, not the cheap earbuds.

2. Figure out your dining options BEFORE you go.

Packing snacks is always a necessity even with kids this age. But most likely you will still need to eat in the airport at some point. Some kids are still picky eaters at this age and you want to avoid the 20 minute “where do you want to eat” conversation at all costs! Knowing what your options are beforehand can make things so must easier. You can do your research online or download the GateGuru app to help with this.

3. Pack smart and weigh your luggage before you leave for the airport.

There is always that one family that you see at the airport pulling underwear and shoes out of one suitcase and stuffing it in another because their luggage is too heavy. You definitely don’t want to be them! Weigh your luggage on a scale at home and check the baggage policy of the airline you are traveling on.

Be aware of the regulations for carry-on toiletries. It’s never fun when the TSA guy makes you throw away your $20 bottle of fancy shampoo. Fix this before you get to the airport.

4. Let everyone carry and wheel their own luggage.

I’m gonna tell you this loud and clear and I want you to listen hard. Are you ready? Your kids are now old enough to carry their own backpacks and wheel their own luggage! I know, it sounds like a revelation. Gone are the days of mommy and daddy the pack-mules.

5. Pack blankies and stuffed animals in your carry-on.

Yes, your kids probably still have something they like to sleep with, whether it be a blankie or a special stuffed animal. And yes you will be in a disaster if they are in checked luggage and that luggage gets lost. Be sure to pack them in their carry-on (that they will be carrying themselves) for safe keeping.

6. Book your flights wisely.

Everyone wants to try to save money when it comes to traveling, but booking a flight that has multiple connections and adds 3 hours to your travel time might not be the best choice. Everyone is irritable, parents and kids included, during a long day of travel. Getting to your destination as fast as possible may be worth a little extra money.

The same logic applies when choosing a flight time. Most kids I know would not do well on a midnight flight. Even though you might have the best intentions and think they will sleep through the flight, trust me they won’t! It will lead to a rough and cranky 1st day of vacation.

7. If you can, pack an extra set of clothes for your kids in your carry-on.

You wouldn’t believe how many drinks kids can still spill on themselves and everyone else at this age. Enough said!

8. Make sure you pack chargers for all your devices in your carry-on.

One charger, even if you all use the same kind, is not going to cut it here. Nobody is going to be happy when their iPad dies in the middle of that movie that you actually remembered to download before you left for the airport.

Hopefully, our tips and tricks can help you have a happy family travel experience. If everyone is still talking to each other by the time you reach your hotel then we have done our job. Happy Tween Traveling!!


Lisa is a Lifestyle, Family and Travel Writer who has a love of all things travel, all things food, and all things living life. She gives family travel tips, the inspiration to dream, and the real deal of family life. It is not always roses and daisies, but that's life!


  1. Hi Lisa,

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  2. So much yes with packing smart and checking your luggage before going to the airport! I usually underestimate the weight of my luggage. Thanks for these tips, Lisa!

  3. I am almost at those tween years, too. We travel a lot, and I’m so looking forward to not having to be a pack mule on our vacations.

  4. I love this post. I love how you encourage parents to make their kids help with carrying their own carry ons and helping out! I think giving them the responsibility to do so will also help their attitude and give them a sense of responsibility and feeling of maturity! Great tips for parents with kids of all ages I think!

  5. You have some great tips here! I have a 19-year-old and a 7-year-old. I have finished the tween stage with one and I am approaching it with the other. I can relate to all of this! I think that is why I am such a planner; I want to avoid extra stress at all costs. I want my trip to be fun!

  6. Great post and I wish I would have thought of this when my boys were tweens. But I’ll be re-entering the tween years soon enough. So thank you for all the tips.

  7. Great tips! We are getting ready for a trip with 2 tweens in just a few days – I’ll definitely keep these in mind – thanks for sharing!

  8. Great tips! I love that when I travel with my tween she can carry her own stuff and we don’t have to worry about it. Makes traveling so easy!

  9. I remember going into family vacation situations with such high expectations, but man, those tween years were hard. Great tips here!

  10. Love this, I travel with my young ones so much now I am just hoping they are easy tweens and teens. This is great if my hopes don’t pan out!!

  11. Great tips!! I just came from a trip to Puerto Rico and thankfully I was prepared with all this I have a 15 yr old a 13 a 3yr and a 10month old

  12. This list is awesome! I love tips #4 and #5! When possible I always let my kids carry their own backpacks. And it would be tragic to lose their special stuffed animals!

  13. Absolutely agree with making them wheel their own, even the little ones (out oldest of four is only 7). And great point about multiple chargers! We have definitely made that mistake!

  14. We’re not quite here yet as our babes are still under 3, but some of these tips would probably even work for our toddler- if we ever dare attempt travel with her! 🙂

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