The teen had never been on a plane or even out of New England. But she didn't hesitate a minute when her friend's family invited her to go on vacation with them.
“I thought it would be more fun with someone else's parents because they wouldn't yell at you.” explained Abbey, who was 16 at the time.
Abbey returned with a new sense of confidence and a sheet full of e-mail addresses and phone numbers for her new resort-made friends.
“I think Abbey grew up a little that week,” says her mom. “She had to make her own decisions. She came home more independent.”
I'm a confirmed believer in bringing friends along. I've taken middle-schoolers to Europe, on cruises, and to Orlando. I've taken high schoolers to California and Hawaii. I’ve taken them all to snow resorts. Their presence, I'm convinced, has meant we've had two happy, often giggling young travelers rather than a bored, sullen adolescent.
“With two of them, they're exploring, not being dragged along. It makes all the difference,” says Chicago mom Rosemary Thomas, who has invited an extra child along in the past.
Another plus: There are fewer sibling squabbles when a friend is along. And when there's a big gap in ages between the children – as in my own – the friend ensures that the oldest will have far more freedom than otherwise. “It makes it so much easier for everyone,” says Thomas.
That's especially true for families with just one child, parents tell me. They don't feel they must entertain their child 24-7 and they will benefit from another child's very different perspective – on the new places as well as their own family, enriching the experience for everyone.
The downside is that you'll invariably have less “family time.” And friends may fight. You've got to be prepared for that and to give them time to cool off.
Here's how to make bringing a friend work:
- Choose the right child. Don't invite a child you don't know: Invite one who has stayed over night at your house and who is comfortable with your family. “You don't want to invite a child who wants to call home every ten minutes,” one mother said.
- Be confident that the child is old enough to handle the separation from his family for several days or, in our case, weeks. I wouldn't try it with anyone under 10.
- Talk to the other child's parents. Is their parenting style similar to yours?
- Be prepared for an emergency. Bring the friend's medical insurance information and authorization for you to get them treatment. Know where to reach the parents the entire time you'll be gone. Get phone numbers for their pediatrician, orthodontist, and a family member in case they can't be reached.
- Hammer out the financial arrangements ahead of time. Many parents ask the friend to cover their plane tickets but pick up meals and lodging. Who is going to pay for lift tickets, rental gear and lessons if they need them? Have they got adequate spending money?
- Make sure your young guest has a say in the itinerary, just as your own kids would and will comfortably mesh with your family's interests. You don't want to plan a day on expert runs when your young guest is a rank beginner,
Set the ground rules for behavior from curfews to how much money they may spend to how far they may wander on their own.
Chances are your guest will be a perfect angel. If you're lucky, their behavior will rub off on your kids.
Get to know the Snowmamas who share the ins and outs of creating unforgettable moments.
Ask A Snowmama
Ask your question about family winter
travel and one of our
Snowmamas will answer.
Connect with Snowmamas
Related Snowmamas Posts
Add Your Own Comments
The views expressed on Snowmamas are those of the individual authors, who are independent contractors of Park City Mountain Resort, and may not be factually accurate. These views are not intended to reflect the opinions of Park City Mountain Resort, its owners, its management or its employees. Snowmamas' authors have or will receive a paid trip to Park City Mountain Resort or will receive other compensation for their participation as an author.