With summer holidays on the horizon, your child may be invited to join a friend’s family on vacation. Here are five tips to consider.
1 Friendly and familiar: Is your child comfortable in the other family’s home or company? Does the host family share similar values and family rules?
While your child may be required to unplug from technology after 9 p.m. or restrict screen time, each family has its own rules. Plan on having a detailed conversation between adults and a discussion of expectations with your child before the trip. An overnight test run is always advisable.
2 Comfort in the details: Discuss the specifics of the itinerary with the other adults and review it in detail with your child. If flying is part of the plan, discuss the various aspects of airport safety, moving through security and ensuring he or she will be comfortable on board. Review any steps that should be taken to manage allergies or medications. Discuss the level of adventure, cultural immersion or exertion involved and be sure all parties are informed and comfortable with the plan. If your child will be traveling outside the U.S., review the U.S. State Department’s travel checklist.
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3 Better safe than sorry: While it is unlikely that things will go wrong, be sure your child and the other adults have your insurance card and any appropriate medical history. It is also wise to send along a letter with both parents’ signatures, enabling the other adults to authorize medical treatment for your child.
If any border crossings are involved, you will also need a letter, signed by both parents and notarized, authorizing your child’s travel.
4 About money: An invitation to join in the fun may not be all-inclusive. Be sure to inquire about what costs might be involved. Should your child be prepared to pay for meals, park entrance fees or special activities? How much cash, if any, should your child bring along for expenses, including snacks and souvenirs? It may be appropriate to send a credit or debit card with an older child in case of an emergency.
5 Please and thank you: Traveling with another family can provide your child with the opportunity to learn social skills and to expand his or her sense of independence. Discuss appropriate ways to interact with other family members and encourage a quick thank-you card or gift upon return from the trip.