If you’ve been following Park Wise this year, you’ve no doubt seen photos of my little mouseketeers. The adorable and sassy princess-turned-pirate is my niece. She travels with us at least once a year, and although the kids act just like siblings, there are a few extra things to consider when taking someone else’s  child to Disney.

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First and foremost, make sure this is something you want to do. In essence, you‘re going to be their mom or dad for a week. Chances are you’ll be hundreds of miles away from their family. You must keep this child safe, healthy and happy. If you decide that’s something you’re ready to take on, keep reading.

The Necessities

When traveling with my niece, there are a few documents we have with us at all times.  We keep a copy of her birth certificate (although we’ve never had a need for this) in our accordion folder (remember that from Five Weird Things to Take to Disney?).  Additionally, if the child you’re taking has health insurance, be sure to take a copy of the card.  Either way, a medical authorization form is a must.  This is provided by the parents/guardians of the child and authorizes you to seek medical attention, if necessary.  Although we’ve never had to use it, we get a new and updated authorization for each vacation.

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Be Up Front About Expenses

We all know a Disney vacation involves a fairly substantial financial commitment.  Adding another child (especially if that child is a Disney “adult”) to the mix can easily raise the cost of your vacation by several hundred dollars, if not more.  Will you be footing the entire bill?  Will little Johnny’s family be paying for his airfare and theme park tickets?  Or maybe they‘re just responsible for souvenir money?  Discussing this information before presenting the idea to the kidlets will help avoid embarrassment, awkwardness and possibly a revoked invitation.

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ŸGet Park Wise: Instead of trying to keep track of everyone’s cash, consider gift cards.  You can differentiate the cards easily by writing names or choosing different designs, or little Johnny can even slip it into his own lanyard pouch or cargo pocket.

Parenting Someone Else’s Child

We have a pretty simple rule that applies when children are over for playdates: our house, our rules.  For the most part, the same would apply to vacations.  Speak with the other family about your expectations prior to your trip.  Are both families comfortable with teenagers exploring the parks by themselves?  How do you handle discipline should a situation arise?  What would work best if Sally got homesick?  Luckily, most people are just a phone call or text away, but setting up some parameters in advance can ease a few hiccups during your trip.

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The Kids

While inviting your BFF to hit the Happiest Place on Earth may seem like the BEST IDEA EVERRR at first, the reality of it can be different.  The girls who dress alike, talk alike and have best friend lockets may be a little tired of each other by day four of rope drops and constant together time.  Be sure to plan some breaks during your vacation so everyone can decompress from the go-go-go of the parks.  If you have enough adults, let the kids try different things.  Your son may want to tackle the resort water slides while his buddy may prefer to build sandcastles.  Allowing even the best of friends to have some “me time” during your trip will help prevent any conflicts.

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Or you could just let them go after each other with these.

 

Have you ever taken another kiddo to Disney?  What worked and what didn’t?  Would you do it again?