There are many reasons families consider taking their child’s friend on a family vacation:
- The two kids hang out all the time at each other’s houses anyway
- Either of the children may be the only child in a family
- The siblings’ ages may be so widely spread as to limit playing together
- The parents may simply want their child to have the companionship
Of course, there are lots of things to consider when taking another person’s kid on a family trip that may not be apparent when the children are in their own normal routines, such as different eating habits, different rules and lifestyles, and the cost related to paying for another person to come along.
Given that all those issues are ironed out, there are still 3 risks you may not have considered when offering to take another person’s kid on your trip.
1. You may not know their complete medical history
You may have known that child since he or she was born, but you may not know their medical history as well as you think you do. For example, in an emergency, can you easily rattle off the following for your own child and for your child’s friend:
- Their allergies and any reactions to medications in the past
- What prescriptions they are taking or have taken
- Any surgeries or illnesses they’ve had
- The status of their immunizations
It’s scary enough when your kid – the one you know so well – gets sick while away from home, but what if their friend is the one who gets sick? If you don’t know their complete medical history (and how could you, really?) and they need to visit a medical facility or emergency room, how are you to handle it in the safest manner possible?
Family experts recommend that you should have the following items for any friends that are coming along in case of an emergency while on a trip:
- Medical insurance card (although this may not be helpful if you’re headed overseas)
- Name, address, and phone number of the child’s regular doctor back home
- Complete list of allergies, medical conditions, and prescriptions
- A letter of permission signed by the parent indicating you are allowed to travel with the child including the parent’s contact information
- A backup contact person in case you cannot contact the parents
- A limited power of attorney (more on this later)
2. Travel Insurance plans only protect family members
Travel insurance plans only cover immediate family members, so it’s likely that the other child will have to have their own plan instead of being on the same plan as your own.
That means you’ll have to coordinate with the other child’s parents to get the proper information into the travel plan document and coordinate the purchase of that travel insurance plan so it’s purchased soon after your initial trip deposit in order to take advantage of travel insurance coverage that requires early purchase, including:
It will be important that you and the other child’s parent coordinate the coverage to ensure that it matches your own. For example, you don’t want to have a situation where your family has protection for travel delays caused by hurricanes, but the other kid does not. You could be facing unexpected and expensive financial losses for just one person in your group.
3. Liability, liability, liability
Until a child becomes a legal adult, their decision-making power is vested in their parents. When you take another person’s child on vacation with you, you are putting yourself in a situation where you could be held liable for your actions, or the actions of others. When a child travels away from their parents, it’s necessary to give another person the legal ability to act on the child’s behalf in the absence of the child’s parents.
For example, if a medical emergency occurs while traveling, and the parent of the child cannot be contacted, is the non parent allowed to authorize medical treatment for the child? If the medical treatment is given improperly or their condition gets worse, that situation could give rise to your own liability because you authorized the treatment.
It’s important to recognize that most hospitals and doctors will not treat a child beyond essential life-threatening measures without the written consent from the child’s parents – thus, a limited power of attorney can be a valuable tool to prevent liability from occurring.
Of course, accidents and injuries may be the most frightening concern, but those aren’t the only things that could go wrong on a vacation. Just as with your own children, your child’s friend could be kidnapped or get lost. They could break the law and be arrested.
There are a number of good reasons to take your child’s friend on vacation, but it’s important to take the necessary precautions to be sure you can protect that child as well as protecting yourself from liability.