Taking your Child’s Friend on a Disney Trip

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Taking your child's friend on a Disney trip

Have you ever thought about taking your child’s friend on a Disney trip with your family? It may seem like an easy thing, but there’s a lot to work out before and during travel. Here are some questions to consider:

Before the decision

Don’t let the words “would you like to go on a Disney trip with us?” leave your mouth before thinking about these considerations:

How well do I know this child and family? Has she slept over at your house? What kind of traveler is he? Does she like rollercoasters? Would his family feel comfortable sending him along with us?

Matching braids — essential for a friends’ trip

What do you expect the other family to pay for? If you’re footing the whole bill, it’s a pretty easy sell. If you want the other child to pay for her park ticket or food, I’d have that clearly outlined at the start.

How will taking someone outside your family affect YOUR vacation? It might make it easier, like making your numbers even for rides, or giving your teen a park buddy to run off with. But it can also be challenging adding an “outsider” to a trip — extra responsibility, higher costs, etc. Is she the type of child you can spend an extended amount of time with and still like each other in the end?

Taking your child's friend on a Disney trip

Extend the invite

Give all the details. Be sure the other family knows travel dates, transportation, costs, sleeping arrangements. When do you need an answer? If they are contributing, are they giving you funds to purchase tickets, or do they have to get their own?

GET all the details. Will you need a notarized letter to fly with them? Are there any conditions that should be quietly shared — sleepwalking, food allergies, medications to give? Do you have the parents’ contact information (even if the child has his own cell phone)?

Taking your child's friend on a Disney trip

Make expectations clear. Do you plan to stay together the whole time? Are your child and friend allowed to park-hop without you? What’s an appropriate bedtime? Don’t spend your whole trip saying “no” to requests that should have been ironed out beforehand.

Involve the friend in trip preparation. If he’s been to the Disney Parks before, ask for his personal favorites and be sure to include them in your plans. If it’s her first visit, share ride videos and park maps. What is she most excited about? Get a countdown going together and share the excitement.

My experiences

So far I’ve only traveled with other peoples’ teenagers — not too much responsibility but plenty of drama possibilities. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Taking your child's friend on a Disney trip

The girls — sweaty but relieved — squished in the tow truck back seat. Not exactly Magical Express.

The right attitude is key. On one summer trip, our car broke down and we got stranded in the desert for three hours before a tow truck rescued us from the 108-degree heat. I was grateful we were traveling with my daughter’s longtime friend, who is very easygoing. The two girls rolled with a lot of uncertainty that day and it became part of our shared history.

Planning only goes so far. No matter how hard you try, and plan ahead, getting four teenage girls and women through one bathroom will take longer than you expect.

Learning through experience. My daughter and her friends self-funded one trip to Disneyland that I chaperoned, budgeting for gas, food, and park tickets. They brought in more of their own snacks when it came out of their pockets!

Taking your child's friend on a Disney trip

They voted to add a visit to the beach to their Disneyland vacation

I’m glad I asked good questions. Before a trip toting my daughter and three friends, I talked to the parents about any health concerns.  One friend needed to go to the park first aid center and I took her seriously because of the conversation I had with her mother.

Different, but good. Traveling with my children and their friends helps me see the Disney Parks in a new light, combining different family traditions and trying new park treats. I’m usually the trip planner, and when the teens map out their own strategy, I’m tempted to “optimize” it for them. Seeing the park through their eyes gives me new perspective!

Are taking your child’s friend on a Disney trip? What advice would you give? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!

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