Risks of Taking your Child’s Friend on a Trip

BY Beth Williams

Risks of Taking Your Child’s Friend on a Trip

Taking a friend of your son or daughter on vacation is a very common event, however, there are many things to consider when taking another person’s kid on a family trip that may not be apparent that should be considered when offering to take another person’s kid on your trip.

Do You 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:

  1. Medical insurance card (although this may not be helpful if you’re headed overseas)
  2. Name, address, and phone number of the child’s regular doctor back home
  3. Complete list of allergies, medical conditions, and prescriptions
  4. A letter of permission signed by the parent indicating you are allowed to travel with the child including the parent’s contact information
  5. A backup contact person in case you cannot contact the parents
  6. A limited power of attorney (more on this later)
Note: these items are also necessary for your own kids if they’re traveling with their aunts and uncles or their grandparents.

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.  What that means for the parent taking the other child is that they will have to coordinate with the other child’s parents to get the proper information into a travel plan document that you can refer to in case of an emergency.  This may include the consideration of the purchase of a travel insurance plan if needed.


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.