When would you let your child go on holiday with another family?

Part of the fun of a holiday is about spending leisure time together - but at what age would you let your kids go away with another family (if at all) without you?

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Holidays are all about spending quality leisure time with loved ones – away from the nitty gritty of everyday life, and relaxed in the company of your nearest and dearest.

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But as your children get older, you might just find they’re keen to bring a good friend along with them on your family hols – or go away with a bestie and their family. 

One of the mums on the MFM team remembers always inviting school friends with her on family holidays, from the age of around 12.

She said it was great for her as she got to have a mate around, but also good for her parents who were happy for her to have a peer on holiday with her (all her siblings were much older and didn’t go).

What do parents say?

We asked 1,427 parents at what age they’d let their kids go on holiday with another family. The most popular answers were:

  • Over 12 years (37%)
  • Never (18%)
  • Not sure (10%)
  • 10 years (8%)
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When we probed further on this topic, most agreed that they’d have to know the family their child was going away with pretty well, and that this would be a major factor in how soon they’d let their kids do it.

One respondent said: “Our 9 year old could go today but it’d depend on who he was going with. Some folks we’d trust, others amaze us how they keep their own kids alive…”

Others pointed out that they have no choice as their children go away with ex-partners.

And of course, the issue of where they’re going probably comes into play too – as this parent said: “If local [I] might allow them to go at about age 10 but never abroad.”

Lots said their kids would need to be teenagers, though a few said for shorter trips they’d let their kids go younger like this respondent who commented: “My daughter has been away with friend for the weekend at 7.”

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What does the expert say?

We spoke to educational psychologist Naomi Burgess about this one, who agrees there is so much to consider here, like  how long they’re going for, where to and what sort of holiday it is.

“Going away with another family is so different from going away with an organised group, when you know all the parameters and safeguards,” she points out.

“Of course, this is not an easy decision and you will undoubtedly want to be able to trust your judgement of the host family. So, really don’t be nervous of saying yes, or of saying no.”

Naomi suggests a few things to consider like: 

  • If it’s ’on’ then start talking early.  Make sure both your child and the inviting child are both asked what they are looking forward to and what worries them, then you have plenty of time to work things out, and it’s almost certain that what you will hear will be unpredictable and surprising, and that’s great.
  •  If they are younger then have some little weekend practice sessions.
  • Holidays are often booked early, so watch out in case there are any little or larger fractures in the friendship and either get them dealt with or change arrangements.

She also points out lots of positives of doing it, for example:

  • a deepening of this special friendship
  •  the opportunity to make really close bonds with another adult or two – and that can be so important to their future development.

“In our house we have always had ‘Mummy 1, and Mummy 2’, providing another set of ears, or a safe place to disappear to,” she adds.

“And lastly, if you have lingering concerns – do mention it to the holidaying family rather than your child: the last thing you want is for them to pick up any of your nervousness.”

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