playgroundThe first time someone offered to take one of our children on his family vacation, we balked. Why would we send our daughter away – we wanted her to be with us.

Then we realized what a gift he had offered. He was willing to take our child off our hands for 3 solid days – and nights. No whining from her, no fighting with her sister. We were being offered a vacation, from our child.

All 3 of our girls have been guests on other families’ vacations, and they’ve had wonderful times, and not so great. Beyond teaching your kids how to be a good guest, these tips can help ensure that your child is a return visitor.

1) Ask if you can chip in.
Offer the parents spending money for your kid (unless he is old enough to be trusted with money of his own). And if the family lives nearby, offer to keep an eye on their home, bring in the newspaper or water the lawn.

2) Don’t’ be coy about your kid’s needs.
If she wets the bed, requires 18 minutes of gospel singing at bedtime or wakes up every 3 hours – the parents deserve to know beforehand. They can decide to still go ahead with the trip.

3) Be sure the friendship can handle the closeness.
We’ve been blinded by dazzling photos of beach homes and ski chalets. We figure once our kid goes and makes a good impression, we will score a family invite. But much more important than the quality of the vacation house is the quality of the friendship.

4) Enjoy the time alone.
If you still have other children at home, you can savor more time with them. Or if having our child join someone else’s family vacation leaves you with no kids at home, treat this as a mini-vacation and go out to dinner, catch a movie and experience a brief taste of an empty nest.

5) Buy the parents a nice gift.
Your child has just been wined and dined (ok, hopefully not wined, but still) for a number of days. Get the parents a gift certificate for a restaurant and offer to pay the babysitter. Or offer to BE the babysitter – if they could take your daughter for a few days, you can watch their kids for a couple of hours.

See how to take someone else’s kid on your family vacation: 7 tips for advice on adding another kid to your family vacation.

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