It is the question certain to come up at some point during family vacation discussions: Can I bring a friend? A shared experience, like a vacation, can deepen a friendship and create memories that last forever. Parents should give it considerable thought before answering that question.
Here are 6 Things to consider before giving the thumbs up:
1. Cost. Discuss with the other parents what you plan to cover for their child and what expenses you expect them to cover. Will you pick up lodging and food? If there is a plane ticket involved, will they pay for it? You will need to estimate expenses for entrance fees, souvenirs and other items and decide what you are willing to cover. You should know that no matter how much the other child’s parents contribute, taking an extra person on vacation will still add to the overall costs to the trip.
2. Ground Rules. There has to be ground rules. Find out from the other child’s parents specific rules that they enforce. Things like texting at the dinner table, curfew, party-going and movie ratings. These are the kinds of rules that vary from household to household. Be sure to discuss the kinds of activities that are OK for their child and ones that are off limits. You will be the parent in charge during the trip, so your word goes, but the more you can abide by the rules that the child is used to, the better. Small misunderstanding can quickly create ill feelings, so be sure to have an open and honest discussion about the ground rules ahead of time.
3. Added Responsibility. There’s no question about the added responsibility you take on when agreeing to bring your child’s friend on vacation. For that period of time you are the parent. You may be required to make decisions about discipline or health issues which can be tricky. Be sure to get all pertinent health information and emergency phone numbers for that child before you leave. You will want to have permission to seek medical care from the guest child’s parents in writing. Keep all of that information together in an envelope and keep it in a waterproof pouch so you can easily find it.
4. Squabbling. It is not a pleasant thought when you ponder vacation, but there are likely to be minor disagreements between friends along the way. You are spending a lot of time together and even close friends can get on each other’s nerves. Since maturity levels take all forms in children, you want discuss with your child how they feel about spending 24/7 with their friend and get insight into personality quirks between the two. You may find yourself being a frequent referee which can put a damper on the trip. Best to consider this ahead of time.
5. Companionship. Your child having someone their own age to pal around with on vacation can be positive especially if they have siblings of different ages along on the trip. Finding activities that fit everyone are tough. If your child has a friend, they are more likely to be inventive of their own activities. In short, having a friend along serves as it’s own form of entertainment no matter what the circumstances.
6. More Memories. The more the merrier, as they say. Enjoying the company of another child on your vacation is another curious mind to enjoy. You will find joy in sharing new experiences and making new memories together.
While many of these considerations are uncomfortable to address, they are even more uncomfortable to deal with when you don’t talk about them ahead of time. Being honest with your child and having honest discussions with the guest child’s parents ensures that everyone is on the same page and has the same expectations. With all of that out of the way you can enjoy your vacation with fewer worries.