This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #Tips4Trips #CollectiveBias
We are a family that loves local traveling. With a house of boys all ages, we have learned through the years how to make traveling go from stressful to peaceful. Our oldest is out of the house and works so we are lucky if he is able to find a way to tag along. The 17 year old has his first full time job this year so some travels have to be scheduled around his work schedule. Then we have a 7 year old in sports and soccer starts soon. The rest of summer will be quick 2-3 night trips in our new toy hauler.
Am I going to tell you we take cell phones away from the boys when traveling? No way! In fact, we did something unexpected and got the 7 year old has his own phone that has his games, music and books downloaded onto it. He now has the very affordable Alcatel One Touch Pop Astro phone that we bought at Walmart through the Walmart Family Service Plan (we have not told him it makes calls-he thinks it’s just available for games, music and books and knows he can get a hold of 9-1-1). Why? Disconnecting the boys from electronics was disconnecting them from us. The trips were a nightmare and I’ll explain how keeping them connected has made for much more enjoyable trips where we bond and have a blast!
When you have such wide age ranges in kids, it is hard to find common interests and allow them to each keep their independence as well as their individual identities. We are a family with huge values and respectful children, but remain realistic! Of course the teenager wants to stay in touch with a girlfriend when we travel-didn’t you at 17 and wouldn’t it be the worst trip EVER if you were cut off from your friends for 3 whole days? We were teenagers too and we want him to enjoy the trip, not dread it (realistic parenting). Then there are the moments where we are parking, hooking up sewer and water, pulling down tables and beds and the 7 year old is bored and begins the whine! “Here is your phone, play and give us 30 minutes”-electronics just allowed us a less stressful camp set up that we can accomplish so much quicker now (realistic parenting).
The way to get the kids to enjoy their time at these ages is to NOT totally disconnect them and we actually cater to the oldest and the youngest loves doing what big brother does anyway so it feels like they both benefit. If you have a teen traveling, it is very important to make sure parts of the family trip cater to them. We rolled into Lake Chelan a few weeks ago and our 17 year old saw a large put put golf course and more than once mentioned making it there. He also overheard us talk of the local waterslide park and he perked up. We gathered with friends we met there and planned the water park for the next day and last day we would golf. It gave the older boy plenty to look forward to and he was very content with the festivities we planned and joined right in with every other activity. Did we take his cell? We didn’t have to! He was so involved and having a blast it was no issue.
Now that the youngest has his ‘play’ phone we can hand it over as they settle in at night or to help big brother not be so pestered by the youngest which only gets them fighting. No, it’s not ‘babysitting’-it is very monitored when the youngest gets his phone. We just pick our battles and the battles are so few and far between having electronics to hand over for certain periods of time. To hear your teenager say “You got ‘younger sibling’ a phone? Thank you!!!”-it is for all of our sanity in moments we want to enjoy our peace without arguing.
Why did we choose the Alcatel One Touch Pop Astro phone? The price and quality! It is Android so we are familiar with Google Play store for apps and music. Because it is on the Walmart Family Mobile plan, if we were to have any issues we are never too far from a Walmart and their hours are better than stand alone cell service offices. He does not call friends or text, it is simply a place to store books, music and games so he can be occupied while we travel or settle in at night. Besides having games and books electronically loaded on his phone means I don’t have my car littered with physical books and toys while we travel. We lug enough around that his entertainment stays in the phone and can slip in the backseat organizer very neatly with it’s charging cords.
I got the phone home, charged it and turned it on. Right away I connected to our internet with no problem, googled some images of his favorite movies and characters and saved them so I can add as his backgrounds. I then went into Google Play Store and downloaded his favorite games, books and songs to get him started. I disabled features and messaging I don’t want him to have access to and it was ready to go. I actually did this while laying in my bed one night.
Activating the Walmart Family Mobile plan is so easy. When I bought the phone that cost me under $70 I also bought the Mobile Starter Kit. This is the micro SIM card you slip into its slot above the battery. Once in, you follow the instructions on the booklet inside to set up data and call/text service. You can even take a phone you already have and buy this starter kit and tell Walmart Family Mobile at set up that you already have a phone. This is a post-pay plan meaning you are billed each month. So if you have to cancel or miss a month for any reason, you will be shown leftover time you can still use up. You do not lose that time you paid for. Typical plan is $29.88/month for unlimited call/text data with 1G of 4G LTE data.
So get connected when you travel with the kids! When there is a teenager in tow-allow them to keep their identity (that would be known as their cell phone these days) and make sure some events cater to them. If you keep them connected while keeping them involved they will enjoy themselves and a happy teenager will make for a happy family, right? You don’t have many years left with them at home so it’s OK to spoil them on rare family getaways while you still can! And for the younger ones, they want to be like their big siblings and sometimes you just have to make peace and pick your battles. Remember Walmart Family Mobile for your phone and data needs! You can’t beat the price and service.
Do you have travel tips for keeping teens engaged? What do you think-is it OK to keep them connected to their phone when traveling for safety or other reasons?