Exactly what to do when your friend invites you on vacation
OK, so your BFF just asked you to join her family's annual getaway. Cue the excitement. And then, well, a case of the what-ifs, TBH. Here's exactly what to do if you're tagging along on a friend's vacay.
Be prepared to answer your parents' questions
Even if your parents are close with your BFF's parents, know that they are gonna have a TON of questions. When you sit down to ask your parents if you can go on the trip, you should know all the vital info: who you're going with, where you're going, what you'll be doing, when you're arriving and leaving and how you're getting there.
Pro tip: even if you're armed with all these answers, your parents are still going to have questions. Suggest a sit-down between the two families to talk everything out. In addition to concerns about your safety, whereabouts, contact info and what other adults will be there, your parents will be able to hash out the money stuff, too. For example, if you're going on a cruise or a trip to Disney, who will be paying for your tickets or meals? How much will the flight cost?
Let's say your parents say "yes." What's next? (Psst: if your parents said no, scroll to the bottom for our tips on surviving that blow.)
Pack extra smart
Traveling with someone else's parents means you need to be super prepared. In addition to all your clothes, shoes and sunscreen, make sure to ask your friend's parents what special items you might need on this trip. For example, a sleeping bag or your own sheets, if you're staying at someone's cabin. But you also need to pack other important stuff, like your health insurance card, passport (if necessary) or school ID, prescriptions or EpiPen (if needed), contacts/glasses, a stash of pads or tampons, a printed list of emergency phone numbers, etc.
You should let your friend's parents know of any food allergies/sensitivities before you leave. It can be a lot to think about, but if you do have some kind of health emergency on the trip, big or small, it's important to speak up immediately. Whether you need help dealing with a serious sunburn or if you are having a stomach issue or you got your period and weren't prepared, talk to your friend's mom ASAP. It might be awk, but you don't want the problem to get worse.
After you figure out your trip's expenses, you should set a budget for how much money you'll need. You don't want to carry too much cash, so consider asking your friend's parents if there's a safe place to stash your green while you're on excursions.
Be polite, of course
We know that you're a total sweetie, so it's probably a bit extra to mention it. Still, being a gracious guest is always important. That means following the rules that they've set, eating the food they put on the table (when possible), getting involved in activities, pitching in by keeping your things neat and helping out when it makes sense. You don't have to dust the living room of the rental house, but if everyone is chopping and dicing salads, ask what you can do.
A thank you note at the end is a must. But, if it's possible, consider doing something else sweet for your hosts, like picking a bouquet of wildflowers or making the pancakes one morning or treating everyone to a round of double scoops (remember to budget something like this in, so you're not skipping lunch to buy ice cream).
In addition to being a good borrowed kid, it's important to keep your own parents in the loop. Establish how often you'll be in touch before the trip. Hint: find out if you'll likely have cell reception *before* you arrive at their yurt in Maine or whatever, to avoid major gaps in communication. If you're going to be in a remote area or abroad, come up with a plan with both sets of parents for how and when you'll check in. Oh, and send them a postcard. They'll appreciate it. And don't forget to pack a stamp!
Don't get caught in the middle
Vacations are fun, but they can also be stressful. If your friend starts fighting with her siblings, resist taking sides. If her parents start bickering, well, that happens, too. Just be respectful and try to give them their privacy. And if something happens that makes you uncomfortable? Call your parents ASAP. They want you to be safe, no matter where you are, above all else.
A little extra planning can go a long way to having a memorable vacation with your bestie and her family. Who knows? It might just become a new tradition.
*Oh, and if your parents didn't let you go on vacation with your BFF? It'll hurt, of course. But it's best to respect their decision and move on. They might not feel like they know her family well enough. They might not have the extra money to buy your plane ticket to Paris. Or, the tough one, they might not agree with the amount of supervision her parents provide and, therefore, not want you under their watch for a week.
Whatever the reason is (if they give you one), know that a single week spent at home, when you could be coasting across the Caribbean or camping in Connecticut, won't make or break your summer. In fact, the quicker you get over this missed vacay, the quicker you can get back to having other types of summer fun.
Have you ever been on a trip with a friend's family? Let us know below!