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    Tips for Bringing Your Kid’s Friends on Vacation

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    We travel as often as we can, and many of those trips include taking my sons friends with us on vacation. We’ve been to San Francisco with his friend, Nolan; Los Angeles with his friend Calen; up the coast of California with his friend Katie; and to Disneyland with his friends Nolan, Calen, Katie, Quinn, Maddie, Douglas, Megan, and Matthew. (Whew.  That’s a lot of kids!)  I love traveling with these kids because they are well-behaved, respectful, and are like siblings to my son.  Still, when I travel with all his friends, I am acutely aware that I have precious cargo with me, and feel a sense of responsibility for them. I try to take every precaution, to make sure everyone stays safe and happy.


    The number one key to traveling with other kids is organization.  The better prepared you are, the easier and less stressful the trip will be for everyone.  Here are a few tips for bringing your kids friends on vacation with you. If you have tips of your own, I would love to hear them!

    1.  Find out allergies and food sensitivities in advance, so you can plan accordingly.  If a child is gluten-free or allergic to bees, it’s better to find out before you go, so you don’t wind up in the emergency room.

    2. Find out dosage amounts and side effects for any prescription medications kids take.
     
    3.  For overnight stays, find out sleep and bathroom habits.  Younger kids may still wear Pull-ups at night, or may have problems sleeping in the dark, so it’s better to know beforehand than at 3 a.m. 
     
    4.  Determine who will pay expenses ahead of time.  For example, if you are providing hotel and meals, but expect the other parents to pay airfare, you need to let them know at the beginning of the travel conversation, not right before you travel. 

    5.  Be respectful of children’s spiritual habits.  If your kids friends pray at mealtime or bedtime, either pray with them (if you are comfortable doing so) or allow them a quiet time.  

    6.  Be clear about family rules, and travel rules.  Make certain all the kids in your group are being respectful of other travelers.  This means no 2 a.m. water balloon fights in hotel hallways, slamming the hotel door every 10 seconds. 

    7.  If you are traveling internationally, make certain you have a copy of everyone’s birth certificate and passport, including your kids friends

    8.  Have parents fill out an emergency contact information sheet, including permission to take the kids out of state/country, as well as medical information.  This is a sample form. 

    9.  Plan a few surprises, such as glow sticks for the hotel room, or a road trip snack pack.  Kids love surprises.

    10.  Help kids to budget their money.  If they bring a certain amount for meals, but want to spend a bunch on souvenirs, gently encourage them to make good choices.


    Tips tailored for Disneyland and other amusement parks.

    1.  If you take kids to an amusement park, find out if they have any fears of park characters or rides. Be encouraging, but don’t force them to do something outside their comfort zone.

    2.  If you are traveling with a group of kids, set up a two or four person buddy system ahead of time, so kids are never alone. 

    3.  For smaller kids, take a blank name tag form, fill it out with your name and cell phone information, and stick it on the inside of each kids shirt.  If one of the kids is separated from group, teach them how to go to a park employee, and show the name tag, so the park employee can contact you.

    4.  For older kids, make sure everyone has your cell phone number and you have theirs.  If anyone gets separated, they should stand still and call you right away.  If you have an iPhone (and so do the kids) you can use the Find Friends app on your phone to keep track of each other. 

    5.  If kids are old enough to go on their own, implement the buddy system, then make a time and place to meet up, with a 15 minute window.   Do this 3-4 times throughout the day, so you can take a head count, make sure everyone is eating, etc. 

    6.  Make group t-shirts in bright colors, with a clever saying or name on them.  It will be easier to find your kids in a crowd if they are wearing the same t-shirts, and they make a great trip memento.  

    7.  If you are tackling the park as a group, take turns with favorite meals and rides. Have the kids vote for the next ride, or have ride names in a small baggie, and have kids take turns drawing a name from the bag. 

    8.  Speaking of baggies, bring several extra quart and gallon size plastic baggies with you, to put cell phones and wallets in when you go on water rides. 

    9.  Plan some downtime during the day, to get out of the hot sun, and give the kids some quiet time.  The Disney parks have great theater shows in air conditioned theaters, such as the fantastic Aladdin show in California Adventure. 

    10. If the kids want to party until they drop (or the park closes, whichever comes first), encourage them to take a mid-day siesta, especially if you are staying at one of the on-park properties.  An hour or two of sleep or down-time can be the energy boost they (or you) need to have fun until the park closes. 


    And my #1 suggestion….Take lots of photos so your kids will have memories forever!



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    A Little Bite of Life

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    Bio: A Little Bite of Life is a deliciously witty cooking, travel, and family lifestyle blog, written by Julie (Jules) Cohn. Jules lives in North Phoenix with her husband and teenage son. In her spare time, she likes to drink mojitos, hang at Disneyland, and stalk wiener dogs. Occasionally, Julie will receive product to review or have a sponsored post from a company, but follows a bloggers code of ethics, so will always disclose that relationship. Julie's opinions are always 100 percent her own.


    Website: http://www.alittlebiteoflife.net