skifriendsYou’ve rented the perfect beach house, your good friends will be down the block, and your son has a friend lined up. But our daughter, who isn’t great at making friends, needs a buddy. So you ask one of her friends to accompany you on your family vacation.

This can be a great family vacation – or a recipe for disaster.

With these guidelines, everyone will have a fun time.

1) Discuss money with the other family, if they bring it up.
If you are staying in a house, the parents may assume the costs of an extra guest are minimal. But if you are planning trips to an amusement park, or ski resort, plus frequent dinners out, an extra person can raise costs tremendously. If you are inviting someone, she is your guest, but if the parents offer to pay some costs, explain what they are in advance.

2) Know the kid you are bringing. Well.  
If you are taking a young kid who doesn’t like to sleep alone, you might have a nightly visitor. If you’re bringing a tween who encourages bad behavior in your child, you might want to reconsider the friend. A non-skier might not have fun if your child is a black diamond skier,

3) Let the parents know more about your parenting style.
If you let your 10 year old walk to the corner store and the other child has never crossed a street alone, there can be confusion on vacation. And if the kids are younger than high school age you plan to leave them alone one evening while you and your spouse have an evening out, make that clear.

4) Discuss bedtimes.
If the friend is a night owl, or an early riser, and your child is not, they can get grumpy sharing a bed, or just a room, for more than one night. Have a plan in place – books are a no-mess activity (e.g., puzzles) that one can do quietly while the other sleeps.

5) Get the skinny on food.
Some kids get shy around adults, and don’t express their likes and dislikes –while others are too vocal. If you find out in advance that your future guest hates shellfish, have an alternative at a clambake.

6) Take food allergies and aversions seriously.
That includes respecting the vegan preferences of a guest, or having enough for her to eat, even if you don’t think her gluten intolerance is medically warranted.

7) Make sure the kid calls home.
And check in with the parents as often as they requested. If they asked for a daily call, respect their wishes.

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