Summer travel season is here, families are planning their vacations, and maybe considering bringing their child’s friend or another family has invited your child to travel with them. Before you count your lucky stars and agree to send your child off on a fabulous adventure, know that travels with friends might not always go so smoothly. Here are a few things you might want to discuss with your child and the other family.
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5 Things to Discuss Before Your Child Travels with Another Family
1. Ask the important questions
Before you even begin to plan a trip with your child’s friends, you will want to make sure the plan makes sense for both your child and the family that has invited them. Some questions to think about:
- Do they spend a lot of time with the family?
- Does your child want to go?
- Can your child be away from home on their own for the length of time in question?
- Do they know both of the parents?
- How about the siblings? Are they comfortable with all of the family members?
- Do they know what to do if an uncomfortable situation arises?
- Who will they turn to if they need any help?
- Will any pets be coming along and is your child ok with animals?
Are you exhausted yet? I know there are a lot of questions here, but we are talking about sending your child away with another family. You want to make sure it works not only for your child, but for the other family as well. The last thing you want is to have the vacation end early because the pairing wasn’t a match made in heaven.
2. Discuss money with the other family
Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but you do need to be up front about the costs. How much do you need to contribute? Does your child need to help with their transportation, meals, activity fees? Make sure to have a clear idea what is expected before committing to the trip.
If the family says not to worry about it, I would always recommend offering to pay for something, even something smaller like a dinner or activity. Also, depending on the age of the child, you may want to send a small amount of spending money and tell them it is ok to use it as needed. At the very least, send a thank you gift.
3. Provide health information for your child
If your child has food allergies, make sure the family knows how to address these when traveling with your child. Make sure they understand how to use an Epi-pen and the steps to take if your child were to have an allergic reaction. If your child has asthma, make sure they know how an inhaler works. Is your child prone to headaches? Be sure to let them know whether or not they can give your child some kind of pain reliever.
Don’t forget to send your child’s prescription medicine with the parents. It is helpful to send them with consent for medical treatment, a letter of permission to travel, and make a copy of your insurance card for them to have in case of an emergency.
4. Ask for an itinerary
In this day and age, it is not unusual to know where are children are most of the time, but ask for an itinerary just in case. Ask for the parents’ cell phone numbers and the phone number (and address if it makes you feel better) of where they will be staying. Let the family know your plans as well if you will be away from home during that time and make sure they have your contact information as well.
If there are plans to take your child out of the country, or cross the border into Canada or Mexico for the day, you’re going to want to check what paperwork is required (Check the U.S. Department of State’s Website). A birth certificate alone is not enough when crossing international borders.
5. Remind your child to use their manners
Remind your children that please and thank go a long way and should be used often. Let them know that different families have different rules and they will be expected to follow them. If their parents believe in early bedtime or no electronics, those are rules they need to live by and do it with a smile on their face.
Send a thank you note after the trip and even follow up with a little gift if appropriate. A photo from the trip in a nice frame is a great memory and a great way to tell the family you appreciate the opportunity they gave your child!