Does the thought of taking your ‘tween’ on holiday make you cringe? Don’t despair. As the old adage goes, it’s all about location, location, location. To please those in the exuberant age between childhood and the teen years, plan a visit to a theme park with water action, a cruise with tween-themed programming or a sunny all-inclusive like Club Med that offers trapeze and wakeboarding in between‘mocktails’ and the requisite check-in with the ‘parental units’.
There are a host of destinations with set-ups specifically geared for this age group. At the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona, young teens can chill in the Hang Out, a sophisticated space outfitted with comfy leather sofas, an internet café and headphone listening station where they can catch the latest from Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. “We kick out adults all the time,” laughs public relations director Jennifer Franklin. Then there’s the new Circle “C” club for 12 to 14 year-olds, just launched fleet-wide aboard all Carnival Cruises. The Circle “C” offers high-tech sound systems, touch-screen jukeboxes and gaming pods. At Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, the “Super Suite Vacation” package includes teen-decorated rooms and private surf lessons, complete with boards the youngsters can custom design and take home. Surf’s up brah!
Florida in particular appears to aspire to tween dreams. Living with a pony-crazy 13 year-old? Saddle up with a guided horseback tour of Amelia Island’s white sandy beaches. Struggling to pry a TV-lovin’-teen from the couch?
Tell them about The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios, voted Best New Theme Park Attraction for 2008 by Theme Park Insider.com. Space cadet in the house? Take them to Kennedy Space Center with its realistic Shuttle Launch Experience, freeze-dried space food and real life astronaut encounters at the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
When you’re traveling with tweens, tapping their interests is key. Aspiring fashionistas might love a shopping spree in the big city, while tweens hooked on Little House on the Prairie might enjoy a week of bonnets and britches at Kings Landing outside Fredericton, New Brunswick. For the eco-friendly green-tweens, sign them up for ‘Ambassadors of the Environment’ by Jean-Michel Cousteau either in California or at the Ritz-Carlton properties of Grand Cayman and Maui. This amazing program will have your kids collecting specimens in mangrove swamps or shore reefs, then learning all about them with field guides, microscopes and knowledgeable environmental counselors.
As noted earlier, when you’re traveling with tweens, it’s all about location. I can offer a few other tips as well – keep it active, bring a friend, and don’t forget the tunes. If you’re still perplexed, sign up with a reputable travel agency that can arrange everything, including matching families with kids the same age (12 and up). Soon, you’ll be dining al fresco under the stars or rounding the back 9 with with nary a tween-aged care in the world.