Travelling with Tweeners……..

The kids were excited.  The first past of our mega long summer together (ie my 9 week parental break from work, at the same time as their annual 2 month holiday from school!) was going to be celebrated in Paris.  With the added bonus of a place to stay, with Hubbie’s cousin Mark and his wife Rosanna and their 3 children, in a very central location, we were looking forward to a daily routine of museums and sightseeing, followed by evenings with the gang.

However, how do you plan a city trip with kids on that brink of teenage angst? That adorable tweener age where some things are just too twee for words, and others things are far too serious for them.  A few years ago we did Disney, so at least that didn’t need to be on the itinerary, but I was worried to put them off museums for life by trailing them around my ‘must see’ list.  Luckily we found a happy medium, and had a fantastic time together (more to follow in later posts), but for all those mums with tweeners facing this dilemma, I’ve listed some travel tips that worked for us………..


– ask them to do some internet research before they leave (after all they spend an awful lot of time on the computer naturally!).  I asked them to recommend one place each and give me all the relevant information needed to visit it.  This resulted in Thila preparing a powerpoint with photo’s and all costs and timings (for the Eiffel Tower) and Inigo (in true ‘I am on holiday not school’ mode!) preparing a pencil scribbled note on the Louvre, which included a suggestion that if it closed at 6 we ought to be there at 3pm. ??




– let them work out how to travel.  Give them a map and let them work out the best Metro/RER/bus route to get there.  My two became real experts on the Paris Metro after only a couple of days practise!



– leave the packing up to them. This can be a painful experience (it may take a few trips to get it down to a fine art), but at least they learn the hard way that bags need to be realistic in size and weight, include headphones and charged electronics, and something to pass the time (on the journey).  Thila’s best packing item was the Vichy water spray, which when the temperature hit the 30’s, was truly inspired!


– Encourage something creative for them to remember the trip by.  For Inigo it was a sketch book, and for Thila, a daily journal.  It also proved to be a gold star move on my part, as the kids would happily stay at pavement cafes while I drank coffee or took an aperitif!



– split visits into bite size chunks.  In my experience, a museum visit of maximum 2 hours is the most they are going to stomach without moaning or getting bored.


– take breaks.  Coffee for you (or an aperitif!), and drinks, ice’s, patisseries or happy snacks for them.  Remember they need more fuel stops than you do (and reminders to pop to the loo!)


– give responsibility.  Distribute a fixed amount of pocket money (with the rules on what it can be spent on!) to avoid footing the bill for everything and anything!  (these stickers for travel books proved a huge hit in my favourite store ever, Merci!)


– let them still play when they want to, after all they are not yet totally grumpy teenagers!  Inigo amused himself by chasing rain drops in the 1.5 hour queue for the Eiffel tower, and Thila loved copying the poses of statues in museums!

and most importantly, Enjoy the trip!  at this age, these guys can be such fun to be with……………..  x


5 Responses to “Travelling with Tweeners……..”
  1. swissrose says:

    What a great trip and for the tweeners, too!
    Can hardly believe you get that much of a summer break – our kids only ever had 5 weeks and adults get 20 working days a year in Switzerland (plus 5 more if you’re over 50 or very senior status!)… ah well, our youngest just left school so from now on, we’re freed from school holidays (which is a fantastic feeling of freedom – instead, our grandson starts in the system at kindergarten from August LOL!)

    • In Belgium the holidays run for 2 months which is rather a challenge for working mums! This year I’m lucky enough to take extra leave which we are entitled to until the kids hit 12. So this was my last opportunity….. Enjoying it so far, though I have to admit to occasionally sneaking a peek at my work blackberry!! Enjoy your summer!

  2. jcestes says:

    Wow! I’m impressed. I can’t imagine traveling with my brood…but you make it sound almost….enjoyable!

  3. Garden Bags says:

    Sounds like a great family trip. Some nice snaps as well

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