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Old 05-07-2014, 11:50 AM   #1
SEA333
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Tips on bringing a friend on a vacation (not Disney)

We decided not to go to WDW this world and instead drive about 4 hours away to camp in Silver Lake on Lake Michigan. This location is very familiar to us as we have frequented this spot for 20 years and my family even used to own a business there. We know what to expect.

Because of this, we know that DS14 will have WAY more fun there if he were allowed to bring a friend. DD10 and DS8 ½ do a lot together, and have much more in common (they still like to go to the campground’s themed park or to the pavilion for the hokey little games and parades and things). DS14 will not be interested in that stuff at all. Which means that we spend more money on go-karts, mini golf, arcade games, etc so all three of the kids will be happy. I figured if he was able to bring a friend, the two boys could go off and do their own thing, the younger two would be happy just doing campground activity stuff a lot of the time, and DH and I could actually relax for a few minutes here and there without a sulky teenager complaining how bored he is.

We have never brought a friend on vacation with us. I don’t know how this all works. Do we foot the bill for everything? Can we ask the parents, as an upfront thing, to provide activity money? We are obviously planning on covering the cost of lodging, travel expenses, and meals. We are also going to rent a boat while we are there, and of course we will cover that. But there are some “per participant” costs of things we are planning to do that are on the pricey side – would it be tacky to ask the parents to cover that kind of stuff? Our whole family will be doing it, but it is over $20.00/each. For a family of 5, that is already $100. I was thinking that I would give DS14 a set amount of cash for the 5 days we will be there (maybe $50? $75?), and he will have to decide how and when to spend it when the two boys are hanging around alone. Everything they would want to do is in walking distance. Would I have to give the friend the same amount, or is this something I can suggest to his parents to provide?

How would this conversation go? Would I suggest an amount? Where do you draw the line at what you will pay for – for example, I have no problem supplying 3 meals and a snack or two, but I am not willing to let kids eat me out of house and…tent, LOL. Is it OK to say some variation of “If you want all the soda and chips you can eat you will have to walk to the store and buy it with your own money!”?

The boy we are considering bringing is a kid we know fairly well and we know his parents – the boy's dad and my DH coached the boys’ youth football team together last year. Would it be offensive if we said something to the parents like “S really wants S to come on our camping trip this summer – it’s a really fun little tourist town and we know S will love it. We will cover the cost of the trip and food. There are a lot of teen activities that the boys can do so if S wants to bring extra money for those things, do you feel comfortable with us letting the boys go off on their own at times?” How do I suggest an amount? I guess I could say that we are giving DS14 such-and-such amount that he will have to budget for the week?

I am so much better at saying “We would love for S to come with us – don’t worry about a thing! We've got it covered.” But we have always only brought family (cousins) with us when we’ve gone on little trips, and they were little kids then and did what we did, ate what I told them to, and didn’t expect anything else. The whole point of bringing another teen is to keep DS14 occupied, and that will get expensive if we are expected to pay for all of it!!

(Oh, and DH and I disagree...he says that if we are inviting someone, we should expect to foot the entire bill. I say that we invite someone with the understanding that we will pay for the basics, and the child's family pays for the extras.)

Thanks!
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:02 PM   #2
clh2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA333 View Post
We decided not to go to WDW this world and instead drive about 4 hours away to camp in Silver Lake on Lake Michigan. This location is very familiar to us as we have frequented this spot for 20 years and my family even used to own a business there. We know what to expect.

Because of this, we know that DS14 will have WAY more fun there if he were allowed to bring a friend. DD10 and DS8 ½ do a lot together, and have much more in common (they still like to go to the campground’s themed park or to the pavilion for the hokey little games and parades and things). DS14 will not be interested in that stuff at all. Which means that we spend more money on go-karts, mini golf, arcade games, etc so all three of the kids will be happy. I figured if he was able to bring a friend, the two boys could go off and do their own thing, the younger two would be happy just doing campground activity stuff a lot of the time, and DH and I could actually relax for a few minutes here and there without a sulky teenager complaining how bored he is.

We have never brought a friend on vacation with us. I don’t know how this all works. Do we foot the bill for everything? Can we ask the parents, as an upfront thing, to provide activity money? We are obviously planning on covering the cost of lodging, travel expenses, and meals. We are also going to rent a boat while we are there, and of course we will cover that. But there are some “per participant” costs of things we are planning to do that are on the pricey side – would it be tacky to ask the parents to cover that kind of stuff? Our whole family will be doing it, but it is over $20.00/each. For a family of 5, that is already $100. I was thinking that I would give DS14 a set amount of cash for the 5 days we will be there (maybe $50? $75?), and he will have to decide how and when to spend it when the two boys are hanging around alone. Everything they would want to do is in walking distance. Would I have to give the friend the same amount, or is this something I can suggest to his parents to provide?

How would this conversation go? Would I suggest an amount? Where do you draw the line at what you will pay for – for example, I have no problem supplying 3 meals and a snack or two, but I am not willing to let kids eat me out of house and…tent, LOL. Is it OK to say some variation of “If you want all the soda and chips you can eat you will have to walk to the store and buy it with your own money!”?

The boy we are considering bringing is a kid we know fairly well and we know his parents – the boy's dad and my DH coached the boys’ youth football team together last year. Would it be offensive if we said something to the parents like “S really wants S to come on our camping trip this summer – it’s a really fun little tourist town and we know S will love it. We will cover the cost of the trip and food. There are a lot of teen activities that the boys can do so if S wants to bring extra money for those things, do you feel comfortable with us letting the boys go off on their own at times?” How do I suggest an amount? I guess I could say that we are giving DS14 such-and-such amount that he will have to budget for the week?

I am so much better at saying “We would love for S to come with us – don’t worry about a thing! We've got it covered.” But we have always only brought family (cousins) with us when we’ve gone on little trips, and they were little kids then and did what we did, ate what I told them to, and didn’t expect anything else. The whole point of bringing another teen is to keep DS14 occupied, and that will get expensive if we are expected to pay for all of it!!

(Oh, and DH and I disagree...he says that if we are inviting someone, we should expect to foot the entire bill. I say that we invite someone with the understanding that we will pay for the basics, and the child's family pays for the extras.)

Thanks!
If you are doing a family activity, I think that you should pay. I realize that this is costing your family $100, is $20 more going to break the budget?

Where I would draw the line is-if your son and the guest choose to do something that just the two of them will enjoy. And I know that other posters will have different opinions on this.

I also agree about having snacks. If the whole family is going out for ice cream, then pay for his. If just your son and him are going for ice cream, I do not think it is unreasonable to ask them to pay for their own.

Perhaps suggest to the parents, we are giving our son $75 for extra activities, souvenirs, and suggest the same amount for their son.

Now, my opinion on this is: my dd is an only child, I would have offered to cover all her expenses. But, that is just the way I am.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:08 PM   #3
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I agree with the previous poster. If you are inviting this boy to come along on your family vacation, essentially making him a family member, you should pay for any activities, etc that you do as a family. If he and your son decide to do something else, make a chip and soda run, then that should come out of spending money he gets from his parents (and your sons should come out of his spending money). Just make sure he comes with spending money though or your son may be miserable trying to ration his money for the both of them.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:15 PM   #4
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I have one child- so we have a fair bit of experience with bringing a friend along. We always pay, we do not accept $ from the parent. We have done some pretty fun things that have been on the pricey side. These would not be in the other parents budget (almost all his friends have several siblings) and we really want the child to come with us and not have it be a financial burden on the other family.
I would think that for a trip the other family would supply some spending money, but I wouldn't count on it. Hopefully when you discuss this with the family they will mention that they will send him with his own money- but I would be prepared for the alternative.
Have fun!!
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:28 PM   #5
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I would expect to pay for everything like activities etc. I would however tell the parents you are giving your son x amount of dollars to spend on what he chooses so if their son wants extra spending money they may want to send some. If not my son would be having to share his allotted money with friend.
Last year we let my two oldest kids bring friends out to our cabin. It's 3.5 hours away so grabbed McDonalds on the way. One of the girls wanted 2 happy meals. I said no and she was upset because her parents let her get two (she is a single child). In my head I was thinking wow! Why would an 8 yo need two meals and man if I let my kids get two each that's eight and no way am I paying like eighty dollars for my family of six to eat at McDonalds. You can say no if they want something and you don't want to pay.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:39 PM   #6
SEA333
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clh2

If you are doing a family activity, I think that you should pay. I realize that this is costing your family $100, is $20 more going to break the budget?

Where I would draw the line is-if your son and the guest choose to do something that just the two of them will enjoy. And I know that other posters will have different opinions on this.

I also agree about having snacks. If the whole family is going out for ice cream, then pay for his. If just your son and him are going for ice cream, I do not think it is unreasonable to ask them to pay for their own.

Perhaps suggest to the parents, we are giving our son $75 for extra activities, souvenirs, and suggest the same amount for their son.

Now, my opinion on this is: my dd is an only child, I would have offered to cover all her expenses. But, that is just the way I am.
If we were only doing one $20 activity, no of course it wouldn't break the bank to add one more, but if we do a $20 activity every day, it adds another $100 to the trip budget, which is more significant. So, if it is inappropriate to ask the parents for money for that, we will have to decide if those things are worth doing and go from there. It would worth the extra for ds to have more fun.

If someone invited my child to go on vacation with them, my first question would always be: how much do you want me to pitch in??!!"

Last edited by SEA333; 05-07-2014 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:49 PM   #7
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I don't know if this is the same but when I take my sisters child I pay for some things and she gives me money for some also. She understands for me to provide for all activities is too expensive for me. But she is my sister so this works.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:51 PM   #8
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I'm another mother of an only, who took a friend along on most adventures and, honestly, we paid for everything. These friends were boys who I thought of almost as sons of my own, and I never would have felt comfortable discussing what I felt he *should* have brought for spending $$ (especially since many of the boys' parents didn't have much extra of their own).

Kids (especially boys) can make their own fun, even at an expensive place like where you're going (and I've been there, I know it's not cheap). Part of the fun of camping should be just hanging out, riding bikes, swimming at the pool, etc.

Could you have a family meeting ahead of time and discuss the "fun budget"? They all sound like they're of an age where they can understand that things cost $$. Maybe each child could pick one fun activity, with the total not being out of line of what you want to spend?

As far as eating you out of house and home, isn't that what teens do? I would hit an Aldis (or somewhere else cheap) and just stock up on chips, bars, fruit, bottled water, generic gatorade, etc. Once again, maybe take the kids with, and give them each $20 (or whatever) to pick up fun stuff for the trip's snack bags.

I would *not* take the friend if it's going to make your own kids resentful over what they aren't going to get to eat or do due to the expense of having another child along. That would really make it uncomfortable for everybody...

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Old 05-07-2014, 12:52 PM   #9
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If we were only doing one $20 activity, no of course it wouldn't break the bank to add one more, but if we do a $20 activity every day, it adds another $100 to the trip budget, which is more significant. So, if it is inappropriate to ask the parents for money for that, we will have to decide if those things are worth doing and go from there. It would worth the extra for ds to have more fun.

If someone invited my child to go on vacation with them, my first question would always be: what do you want me to pitch in for??!!"
To which I would reply, "Nothing! He is our guest. We are just happy he can join us."

I think this a lot different that bringing another child to WDW, which would be a huge expense. This is camping at a relatively nearby location. Really, $100 in exchange for a happy teenage-DS seems like a decent deal. Try to think of it that way.

My DS has gone up north for a week with two different families. I offered money in both cases, and it was declined. You could say "he could bring a little money for a souvenir, if you think he might like one". Chances are he wouldn't want one anyway.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:54 PM   #10
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When I was younger, I went on trips/activities and brought friends on trips many times. When friends came with us my family always covered the costs. The same was true when I went with friends though my parents always sent me with extra money and a host gift for the family.

That's just how I was raised and wouldn't think of doing anything different now that I'm an adult.

I think extra spending money for the boys to do things on their own is fine. I would think it would cause awkwardness to say "we really want your son to come along on our family vacation, we'll need $x". I would say that if it's not in your budget to include the friend in family activities then it's best to keep it to a true family vacation.
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:01 PM   #11
SEA333
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sksjasams

To which I would reply, "Nothing! He is our guest. We are just happy he can join us."

I think this a lot different that bringing another child to WDW, which would be a huge expense. This is camping at a relatively nearby location. Really, $100 in exchange for a happy teenage-DS seems like a decent deal. Try to think of it that way.

My DS has gone up north for a week with two different families. I offered money in both cases, and it was declined. You could say "he could bring a little money for a souvenir, if you think he might like one". Chances are he wouldn't want one anyway.
Very true....I am trying to keep this budget friendly, and still let ds have fun. Maybe I will budget $100 for both boys for the week and they wil have to figure out what they can do with it. One day we will all be together on the boat anyway, and the first and last days we will need their help setting ul and packing up, so their opportunities to waste money in the tourist traps are limited.

I'm much less stressed when I set aside cash for specific things rather than think I'm doing on just to have unexpected expenses come up. If I know I will give the boys a certain amount from the beginning, I will feel good about it.
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:04 PM   #12
SEA333
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sksjasams

To which I would reply, "Nothing! He is our guest. We are just happy he can join us."

I think this a lot different that bringing another child to WDW, which would be a huge expense. This is camping at a relatively nearby location. Really, $100 in exchange for a happy teenage-DS seems like a decent deal. Try to think of it that way.

My DS has gone up north for a week with two different families. I offered money in both cases, and it was declined. You could say "he could bring a little money for a souvenir, if you think he might like one". Chances are he wouldn't want one anyway.
Very true....I am trying to keep this budget friendly, and still let ds have fun. Maybe I will budget $100 for both boys for the week and they wil have to figure out what they can do with it. One day we will all be together on the boat a
nyway, and the first and last days we will need their help setting ul and packing up, so their opportunities to waste money in the tourist traps are limited.

I'm much less stressed when I set aside cash for specific things rather than think I'm doing on just to have unexpected expenses come up. If I know I will give the boys a certain amount from the beginning, I will feel good about it.

This is the problem with have one kid 4 years before #2 and having #2 and #3 19 months apart! You get an "only" child, but with siblings! It has been lovely in ways to get the best of both worlds when it comes to age spacing of my kids, but sometimes it is crazy.
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:08 PM   #13
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Very true....I am trying to keep this budget friendly, and still let ds have fun. Maybe I will budget $100 for both boys for the week and they wil have to figure out what they can do with it. One day we will all be together on the boat a
nyway, and the first and last days we will need their help setting ul and packing up, so their opportunities to waste money in the tourist traps are limited.

I'm much less stressed when I set aside cash for specific things rather than think I'm doing on just to have unexpected expenses come up. If I know I will give the boys a certain amount from the beginning, I will feel good about it.

This is the problem with have one kid 4 years before #2 and having #2 and #3 19 months apart! You get an "only" child, but with siblings! It has been lovely in ways to get the best of both worlds when it comes to age spacing of my kids, but sometimes it is crazy.
This sounds like a great plan! They are defnitely old enough to pick and choose activities within a budget. Hope you have a great time
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:08 PM   #14
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I think it depends on the situation and the family.
I have an only child and would probably pay expenses for another to keep him busy and help enjoy the vacation but when you have several kids and this may not be a onetime thing AND you know the other parents would NOT have to sacrifice to contribute I might gently discuss spending money.
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:26 PM   #15
SEA333
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I think it depends on the situation and the family.
I have an only child and would probably pay expenses for another to keep him busy and help enjoy the vacation but when you have several kids and this may not be a onetime thing AND you know the other parents would NOT have to sacrifice to contribute I might gently discuss spending money.
I'm glad you brought that up, because I forgot to mention too, that with three kids, adding even one more kid creates logistical issues that cost money. For example, we will have to rent a minivan or SUV with a 3rd row (or a crossover that seats 6) because our cars only seat 5. DH works for a major rental car corporation in their title acquisition department, so we get a great rate, but that will still add another $200 to the trip just to get the kids there!

We will also pay another $35/night for the two boys to pitch their own two-man tent so we can all have a little extra privacy, so that is another extra.

So, while we want to bring a friend for DS, it is adding several hundred dollars onto what is supposed to be a budget trip - like I said, we WANT to do it and don't mind the extra expense for DS having a better time, but at the same time, 5 days of arcade games and mini golf might be the crossed line that determines whether we think the added logistical expenses are worth it. If this was my 15 year old nephew, I would tell my sister we would pick up everything except Craig's Cruisers (the game/go kart facility) and enough would be said LOL she knows how it is! But my nephew lives on the east side of Michigan, which would add a 6 hour round trip to the original 4 hour trip. so we have kind of nixed that idea in lieu of a friend.

ETA: I don't *think* it would be a big deal for this family to give their son some spending money - both of our boys just went on their optional $1200 4 day/3 night Washington DC trip with their 8th grade class...not to speculate on how they manage their money, but only 48% of the class had parents willing to pay that much money to let their 14 year olds go, and we had to provide spending money for that trip, too. DS roomed with that particular friend, and they seemed to have plenty of cash between the 2 of them! LOL)

Last edited by SEA333; 05-07-2014 at 01:36 PM.
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