With spring break and summer holidays on the horizon, it's possible 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 them with your child. Discuss all aspects of airport safety, moving through security and ensuring he or she will be comfortable on board. Review any steps 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 abroad, review the U.S. State Department's travel checklist.
3 BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY 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 Ask if your child should 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.