Should I Allow My Teen to Invite a Friend on Family Vacation?

Before you say "yes" here are a few things to consider

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Should I Allow My Teen to Invite a Friend on Family Vacation?

Written by: Eric Beuning

If you have an only child, or there’s a major difference in age between your kids, your teen could feel isolated or a bit lonely on your family vacation. At the same time, for a lot of teens, their friends are a huge part of their lives and they can feel like they’re missing out when they’re away on vacation.

One way to make a family vacation more appealing to your teen is to let them invite a friend. After all, it sounds like a great idea, right? They’ll always have a buddy to hang out with, they won’t constantly be on their phone moping about what they’re missing out on back home, and you won’t have to work so hard to make sure they’re a happy camper.

But before you give your teen the green light to ask a friend on vacation, there are a few things you need to consider. 


Should I Allow My Teen to Invite a Friend on Family Vacation?


Think About Friend & Family Dynamic

Family harmony can be pushed to the limit on any vacation. With everyone cramped in one car or one hotel room, chances are you’re going to get on each other’s nerves, and having another person tossed into the mix can add to the tension.

Considering the fact that you’re about to spend 24/7 with your teen’s friend. You might want to make sure they mesh well with your family and that your teen gets along well with them. 

Also, if your son or daughter is an adventurer at heart and loves roller coasters, ziplining, and tubing, you might want to consider bringing a friend who loves the same types of adventurous outings. You don’t want to bring a friend on an activity-packed vacation only to find they’re the type of kid who prefers hanging out on the beach reading a book. 

The Money Question

Depending on where you go, vacations can be expensive and when your teen invites a friend, it’s definitely going to impact the total cost of the trip. You may have to book a larger room to accommodate them and, of course, with another teenager, there’s another mouth to feed (and we all know how much teenagers eat).

While there aren’t any set rules on how to manage the vacation expenses for your teen’s friend, there are a few ways to handle it. 

If you’re willing to shoulder the full cost of taking your teen’s friend on vacation, that’s great! Otherwise, you can talk with the other parents and let them know you’ll be happy to spring for the hotel or accommodations and food and request that the child brings their own money for souvenirs and activities. (Just remember that not all families can afford to send their kids on vacations or indulge in fun, sometimes expensive, activities while they’re there, so you’ll need to be upfront about the costs associated with your planned activities.)

Prepare for Lodging

Most hotels will allow a maximum of four people in a two-bed hotel room. If you have five or more people, they require a second room. The other alternative is to pony up the staggering cost of a full-family suite! This opens the door for other questions. Do you dare let the two teens have their own separate room? Can you reserve two rooms with an adjoining door? 

Motor lodges tend to have very few adjoining rooms and they get reserved quickly. A suite in a large hotel can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you’re taking a week-long vacation. Renting a condo, house or apartment, while a great option, often comes with hidden cleaning fees and upcharges. Renting an RV is an option. However, motorhomes aren’t easy to drive, or you need the right vehicle to tow a travel trailer.

In my experience, the sweet spot here is to find a campground that has rental cabins. They’re used to hosting family gatherings with more than 5 people. A lot of cabins come with a master bedroom, bunk spaces for kids, and even a futon or a hide-a-bed couch. Most rental cabins at campgrounds also come with a full kitchen or kitchenette, which lets you save money by cooking a few of your meals.

Gather Medical Information

Before you hit the road, make sure you have all information regarding your guest’s allergies, medical condition(s), and medications they might be taking. Be sure to also ask about their child’s creature comforts, including things like favorite foods and activities. 

You should also provide the other family with an itinerary of where you’ll be at what time. Ask them if there’s a specific time they’d like to set up for a family phone call or Zoom meeting. Some parents run a tighter ship than others and may want to be informed of every little change and scraped knee. Play it by ear and always err on the side of too much information.

Set Up Ground Rules in Advance

It’s important to set up ground rules at the start of the trip so your teen and their friend understand expectations. It often helps to talk to the duo separately, with a tone of respect that lets them know you’re expecting them to police their own actions.

Be sure to talk about how much freedom you’ll be giving them to do “their own thing” and the importance of never venturing out alone without your explicit approval. Safety above all!

Make Sure Other Family Members Don’t Get Left Out

When you let your teen bring a friend along on a family vacation there’s always the risk that other family members might feel left out – especially younger siblings who may want to spend time with their older brother or sister.

Make sure you talk to your teen and their friend in advance, and request that they carve out time for the younger sibling(s). Also, as the parent, make sure you have plenty of fun activities and/or one-on-one time planned with the younger ones so they don’t feel brushed aside.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of benefits to bringing your teen’s friend along on your next family vacation, but there are also a few pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. Remember, too, it’s a family decision since having that extra guest will alter the dynamic of the trip. Above all, it’s a great idea provided the associated cost isn’t prohibitive and you plan ahead accordingly.

About Eric Beuning:

Eric Beuning balances being a single father with being an entrepreneur and professional writer. He builds his flexible schedule around his daughters, to be a hands-on parent. He’s an experienced traveler, an avid gardener, and a foodie with a personal philosophy that strives to find wisdom in every experience. He brings this to bear when working with area youth groups and guiding his own daughter through the everyday challenges of growing up.

If you enjoyed reading, “Should I Allow My Teen to Invite a Friend on Family Vacation?” you might want to check out these other posts, too!

Traveling with Teens? Pack a Sense of Humor and a Chill Pill

Why My Teens Need a Break This Summer: 10 Ways I’m Cutting Them Some Slack

Teen Summer Bucket List: 99 Things to Do That are Cheap or Free

Why Not Join Us?
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 3.000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, find free traffic, and monetize your website.
RAISING TEENS TODAY is a resource and safe zone for parents to share the joys, challenges, triumphs and frustrations of raising our oh, so imperfect (but totally awesome) teens. PLUS, sign up and you'll receive my FREE e-Book "Scoring Scholarships!"

You may also like

Leave a Comment