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Bringing Kids' Friends on Vacation

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Guest blogger Luisa Frey Gaynor:  Taking one of your children's friends or cousins on your family vacation could be a bonanza or a bust.

When I was a child, my three siblings and I always invited one of my cousins along on our annual vacation. This was a win-win situation for all, since it discouraged sibling quarrels by having an outsider along and was the fodder for many happy childhood memories. But, while it could prove to be a synchronistic scenario where everyone is happy the entire trip, it could have its moments of regret on your part. Here are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.
Three reasons you might want to invite a child guest on a future family trip:

• More family fun for kids and parents
When one of my children's friends or cousins comes along on a day trip, it suddenly makes our foursome a party. This applies to an extended trip, too.

• Better behavior
I find that my children behave better when their friends or cousins are around. Actually, cousins seem to be the most compatible of all guests -- they are closer than friends but don't engage in sibling squabbles.

• Less social pressure
Some kids and teens who are shy dread being at a resort or on a cruise where they are forced to make new friends in a youth or teen program. However, having a friend or cousin along makes this a non-issue.

If you think your family is ready to take along a guest, here are four guidelines to consider before
you depart:

• Make sure the other child is ready to travel without Mom or Dad.
Be sure the child you're taking is: at least grammar-school aged; self-sufficient in the bathroom and getting dressed; and can perform basics like shoe-tying. A sleepover at your house prior to departure is a good idea to make sure there are not any homesickness issues.

• Take a family vote before extending the invitation.
Make sure everyone in your family is comfortable with the guest beforehand. Recently, we took my teen daughter's friend on a cruise, which was great fun. We've all known her for the past 10 years and even my 6-year-old son loves her company, so I knew it'd be smooth sailing.

• Keep the trip short and sweet.
Just in case the "honeymoon" doesn't last long, keep the guest's visit to one week or less, especially if your travel destination is not within driving distance of the child's home.

• Have a one-on-one with the kid's parents beforehand.
The guest's parents and you need to be on the same page prior to the trip in regards to curfews, spending money, and tweens/teen independence.   

Have you ever taken your child's friend on vacation? Comment below.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
ageless mom March 28, 2009, 1:29 AM

Our Family is going on vacation this summer for one week and I let my daughter invite two of her friends. Recently they haven’t been acting like very good friends. They are 13 and 14 years old. I am stuck on what to do. We are paying for them to go on this trip. I don’t want to start any drama either. I know they are not perfect, but I don’t know how to handle this situation.

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