When Your Tweens Travel Alone

Tween Teen Tuesday: Tweens Travel Alone

Welcome to Tween/Teen Tuesday at OurCrazyBoys.com! I’m doing my best to remind you to laugh a little when it comes to raising those not-so-little and not-so-big kids of yours. Today we’re chatting about the big day when your tweens travel alone – maybe on a school trip or a summer vacation to Grandma’s house!


In less than one week, Michael will be on the other side of the country – without me.

He’s part of a small group of students from his school heading to New York City and Boston for the week to explore and sightsee.

I may have {purposely} pushed this trip to the back of my brain beginning last August when he signed up and ending last week when I picked up his itinerary and tour backpack (there is one for each student so they’re easy to spot) from the school.

Tweens Travel Alone

And I might be freaking out a little bit in my head right now.

That backpack has no flashing light. No arrow that says, “Here is Michael” in case he wanders off. No siren that he can sound if he feels nervous.

Unfortunately, he has not agreed to let me add any of these things to the backpack as of right now.

Yesterday we talked about making sure he uses his backback and how he should never take his wallet out until he’s ready to use it. We also talked about how he will bring his debit card and some cash, and that he has the option to use an ATM if he needs to, as well.

He said, “I don’t even know how to use an ATM.”

Then it dawned on me that while I have been purposely ignoring the fact that my little guy is growing up, I have also been neglecting to prepare him for this trip.

I lost Mom Of The Year again.

This? This is me making up for lost time.

When Your Tweens Travel Alone: A Preparation List

1. Add important contacts to their phone. Instead of demanding he use SafetyTats, help him add the cell phone numbers of his chaperones to his address book.

2. If you get separated from the group… You may want to use flashing lights and sirens on his backpack, but you should probably talk with your tween about looking for a uniformed employee if he wanders away from his group. If there are none close by have him stay where he is and use his cell phone to call one of the chaperones.

3. Location tagging isn’t cool. For safety reasons, have the talk about location tagging on devices and how dangerous that can be. I usually let Michael check-in when he is with me, but since he will be with a large group of students and chaperones, they don’t need extra attention from creepers who might be lurking. Log into their facebook account and make sure that nobody can tag their location - I’m sure all the kids will be trying to tag each other.

4. Teach your tween the art of packing (and unpacking). Michael will be staying in several hotels over the course of his trip. To avoid leaving things behind, I’ll be telling Michael to make sure that everything he takes out of his backpack should be left ON his backpack. When he’s done brushing his teeth at night but wants to keep the toothbrush out, leave it on top of your backpack. If you take out your cell phone charger, move your backpack near an outlet and leave the charger on top of it.

5. Don’t wear dirty clothes. To avoid accidentally wearing dirty clothes, bring a few plastic grocery bags and use them to separate the clean clothes from the dirty ones. It’s so much easier than guessing every morning.

6. Practice using an ATM and debit point of sale machine. Many kids either don’t know how to use these or easily get confused when using them, especially because there are usually people in line behind them and there’s a feeling of being rushed. Run through the process a few times at the local grocery store and make sure your tween has his PIN number memorized and not written down somewhere.

7. Use your manners. Teach your tween to say please and thank you loud enough for the intended party to hear it. This is important during tours, meals, shows, and just walking down the street – make sure they don’t give their school a reputation as a bratty one.

8. Be where your feet are. Tell your tween to put their phone down unless taking a photograph or texting their mom. Turn the sound off when you enter a building. Don’t play video games during tours and don’t text during meals. Do not walk and text. Not only does it make you unaware of your surroundings, you could fall into a fountain - and you know every one of your friends will get it on video. When you’re talking with someone, look them in the eye – don’t look at the phone in your hand. Make sure your tween knows that this is a once in a lifetime experience – make sure they don’t treat it like it’s just another day.

What am I missing? What else would you tell your tween when they’re on their way on an adventure like this?



  1. 1
    Melissa says:

    Great advice Becca! Good luck to you and Michael during the trip.

  2. 2
    Lyn Meeker says:

    You forgot the part where you tell him to have an AWESOME time and that you know he’ll have the trip of a lifetime!

    (Experienced mom who not only “sent” her son to New York to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade .. but to Beijing China to perform on the Great Wall among other things… both opportunities with his school marching band! The mom nerves never go away… but you have to let your birdies fly out of the nest someday!)

  3. 3
    Gramma Teetsie says:

    I am crying.

  4. 4

    What a great list – thanks so much this! Really love “be where your feet are.”

    I would maybe want to have agreed upon communication plan between parent and tween. Will he/she call home or text at any point, or is no news good news?

  5. 5
    Sara Hawkins says:

    Becca, deep breath! Trust yourself. You’ve been diligent in raising a responsible son. All that stuff you’ve said to him that was responded to with eye-rolling and “uh-huh” was heard. Give him a big hug (at home so he’s not embarrassed in front of his friends), tell him to have fun. Then go to the car and cry like a baby. OK, maybe not. Go have a margarita and celebrate being an awesome mom!

  6. 6
    Trevor Spedding says:

    Really good advice. I was always also told not to feel pressured to do something I was not comfortable with just because others were doing it.

  7. 7
    Angela says:

    This is really good advice. I used to be a nervous wreck when my son flew by himself to spend summers with his dad, or when he went away to camp.

  8. 8

    These are all such fantastic tips! It would have never occurred to me to have lessons in using the ATM – so important! I hope he has a great trip (and that you have a little bit of quiet too).

  9. 9

    I hope he has a wonderful time! I can see what you mean about being nervous though, I definitely would be as well, but you have some great tips and I’m sure if you follow them everything will be fine.

  10. 10
    Hanan says:

    Wow, this is a great list! I can’t think of anything else to add, but will make sure to remember and teach my girls these too.

  11. 11

    That’s a pretty comprehensive list which is both reassuring and scary because there’s so much to prepare in advance. It will all be well though!

  12. 12
    Andrea Kruse says:

    Great list. My first is going away to Kindergarten, so this is a scary thought I am not quite ready for… I would totally low-jack the backpack or a shoe. Lol. Sounds like you are prepared and doing a great job to prepare him.

  13. 13
    Kerri says:

    Wow! There is so much to think about and you have great planning ideas to help your teen get ready.

  14. 14

    Great advice! I’m going to go check profile settings asap.

  15. 15
    Jenny F says:

    Love this!! Great list, and one I will be tucking away for a few years!

    I only have two thoughts, and they are from when I was an awkward teenager ventured out of the Midwest and traveled to DC on a class trip.
    1) The boys out of our group ordered “adult movies,” and charged it to the room. (not a good idea, and they were sent home early!)
    2) A girl got violently ill in our room, and as our parents weren’t nearby, it was the first time as teenagers we had to clean up or try to think about what to do about it.

    So my two tips…stay away from the cable and talk about finding a chaperon if someone throws up or has a medical need in your room!

    Good luck Momma, and I cannot wait to hear all about it post-trip to see how it went!

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