I have found that with my own middle schooler, the biggest challenge is finding a way to entertain him that doesn't include him getting sucked into an iPod, portable DVD player or handheld video game. By doing a little homework ahead of time, I can almost always ensure that getting to our travel destination is one of his favorite parts. I have learned over time that by turning our travel time into part of the vacation experience, he not only doesn't complain, but he learns something new (I do too!) and he is kept entertained the entire trip. Plus, as an added bonus, these simple tips always double as great bonding activities! Read on to learn my tried and true 6 simple, eco-friendly ways to travel with a middle schooler and find that getting there is part of the fun.
Tip #1: Get Schooled
Right before any trip, I stop by our local library to check out an assortment of books that all focus on the place we will be traveling to and the activities that we will be doing while we are there. I pack these books in my handbag and as we travel (either by car or airplane) I will pull a book out one-by-one throughout the day. Most recently we took a trip to Montana where I knew that we would be visiting Yellowstone National Park, be doing a lot of hiking and checking out the antique shops. I checked out books on popular hiking trails in the area we were going to visit – so we could choose a handful of hikes that we added to our list. We also picked up an interesting book that focused on the dangerous side of Yellowstone National Park, which he really enjoyed. And a book on how to get the best price while antique shopping, since this is a hobby that he is interested in. These books kept him entertained for almost all of our travel time and we both learned something new!
Tip #2: Map It
Before we leave on a family vacation, I always pick up a map of our travel destination. Not only is it a great way to teach your child how to use and read a map, it is very entertaining too. My son enjoys following the map as we travel, pointing out landmarks, and mile markers and has even helped us find impromptu hiking trails and historical sites as we are driving to our destination. He also enjoys marking the different areas that we visit during our trip, it serves as a type of memory book of our adventures and keeps him engaged in the trip.
Tip #3: Make It A Surprise
When you finally arrive at your travel destination it can be too easy to simply say – we’re beat, let’s veg out! Instead, surprise your middle schooler with a surprise activity as soon as you arrive. On our last trip, we spent the majority of our day traveling and when we arrived at our destination we could have easily called it a day, we were beat! However, instead, we headed to the mountains for a surprise zip-lining tour, which immediately perked us back up and was a great start to a wonderful vacation.
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