Kids & Money

Don’t ignore financial etiquette when the kids vacation with another family

Be clear on who’s paying for what before your child goes on vacation with another family.
Be clear on who’s paying for what before your child goes on vacation with another family. The Associated Press

Parents typically have a handle on expenses to cover before hitting the ski slopes or basking in sun and sand this winter with the kids. But when one of the kids gets invited to vacation with a friend, trip finances can get a bit more complicated.

Be it airplane tickets, hotel reservations, ski lift passes, meal money or souvenirs, a laundry list of “who’s paying for what” issues should be addressed before your child goes as a guest on another family’s vacation.

But all too often, the host and guest families dance around the money piece, experts say, perhaps out of embarrassment or because it gets lost in the rush to get out of town.

While you may think you and the host family are on the same page, ignoring the financial details could lead to confusion and conflict that can make a trip memorable for the wrong reasons.

Patty Arvielo, the president and co-founder of New American Funding, a mortgage lending and financial services company, is a world traveler who has a 12-year-old son. She said she often invites friends or one of her nieces or nephews on trips so her son has someone to hang out with.

Arvielo, of Tustin, Calif., keeps the trip finances simple.

“My philosophy always is if I do the inviting, then I expect to pay for the guest,” Arvielo said. “If the parents insist on paying for the ticket, I tell them my philosophy and how inviting their child makes the vacation more enjoyable for my child. If they still insist, I then go to ‘why don’t you just send your child with spending money.’... Then if they keep insisting I let them, and then thank them for the offer.”

My takeaway: Avoid any misunderstanding of who’s footing the bill.

Here are some other travel etiquette tips regarding kids and vacations with other families.

▪ In general, the closer you are to your hosts the more likely they are to want to pay your son or daughter’s way. Still, pin it down.

▪ Kids should travel with their own pocket money or a debit card loaded with cash.

How much money should your child bring? Before the trip, get an idea of what it costs for a whale watch, ice skate rentals or other excursions, so your youngster will have enough cash to offer to treat the host family to an activity, a tank of gas, or just pizza and ice cream.

In addition, give your kids their allowance ahead of time so they’ll have extra pocket money to spend.

▪ Kids tend to back down in money exchanges with adults. So, if you’re hosting and a young guest offers to pay for something, don’t necessarily turn him or her down. It’s an opportunity for a youngster to learn about reciprocity, even if it’s not an equal exchange.

▪ Ask the host parents to be the banker — holding on to your child’s wallet or putting it in the hotel room safe so it won’t get lost or money won’t get wasted.

▪ After your child returns home after a trip with another family, there’s one last etiquette task for him or her to take care of — a thank you note.

Steve Rosen: 816-234-4879