Monday, March 14, 2011

Vacation advice

Okay y'all, I need your advice. First, let me say that obviously any decisions will have to involve the rest of my family and Odessa. Nevertheless, let me tell you what the background is and then what the options are, and then I really really really want your feedback.

Background: we booked a family vacation way back in September. Sabrina was with me then but we knew she wouldn't be staying, and of course I had no clue of Odessa's existence, or that there was even the remotest possibility that I would end up with a teenager in my home. We are going on a cruise leaving from thousands of miles away from our Big City, from a Big City2 that I've never been to. My aunt and I are to share a stateroom on the cruise, and I intend to spend a few extra days after the cruise wandering Big City2 and the BigCity3 that is a few hours away.

The question now is: do we bring Odessa on the cruise, or does she stay somewhere else for two weeks?

1. If she comes on the cruise, I can't extend the vacation. This is for cost reasons (I'm assuming that I can find enough couches to surf for a few days that I won't have to pay for a hotel. Can't do that with a teenager.)--though we'd also have to change up my ideas about what we would do for those few days, and that just seems stressful to me. (Plus her summer job will start the day after the cruise ends.)

2. Stateroom options if she comes:
a. She shares the stateroom with my aunt and me. Total cost (outside of airfare) for the extra person: $580.
b. She shares the stateroom with me that I was going to share with my aunt, and my aunt gets her own stateroom in the same (expensive) category. Total cost (outside of airfare): $4100-some.
c. My aunt and I share our stateroom, Odessa brings a friend and they share an interior cabin. Total cost (outside of airfare): $2489. (Note: I didn't ask about Odessa having her own interior cabin, my guess is that would be about $2200; I'm not sure I like the idea of a 17 year old with her own cabin, though I traveled with my parents and had my own hotel rooms. In fact, we went to England when I was 9 and my sister 14, and we shared a room that wasn't always adjacent to my parents'.)

Airfare at the moment is about $450 per person round trip. I hate spending money but I think I would be okay paying for a friend to come with her, since it would be only a few extra hundred dollars plus airfare.

3. I'm really just bummed that I wouldn't be able to extend the vacation.

4. I promised Odessa that we could go somewhere by plane so we either do this (which will give her all sorts of new experiences) or I have to plan another trip to somewhere that would end up costing about $1000 anyway. (Yes, $1000 is very different from $3500. Nevertheless...)

5. If she doesn't come, I will feel guilty for going on a family vacation and not treating her as part of the family. Even though we didn't know her when the trip was planned.

6. All this time, my expectations were for a responsibility-free vacation. I don't want to have to shift my expectations.

7. I don't know how the rest of the family would feel about the addition of a 17 year old and an 18 year old to our group. (I'm making assumptions about which friend Odessa would choose to bring.)

8. I'm cheap. Over $6000 for a vacation seems steep to me, even if it would be for three people. (I think that the $2500 I have to pay for myself seems steep, but I'd gotten used to it.)

What do you recommend I do???


  1. I think you should take her. And I think maybe you could--and should-- still extend the trip. (I've had lots of friends with teenagers crash with me, and typically the teens are on their best behavior at someone else's house.) I'm not sure about the sleeping arrangements though.

  2. I think you should offer her the chance to come, but not to bring a friend. If cost a concern, why pay for someone else to come? Let her meet kids on the boat and hang out with your family. If she's not interested in doing that, she can choose to stay home.

  3. I agree with Kate also, if cost is a concern. It would also make it easier for you to feasibly extend the trip.

  4. Hmm. I would decide between, and maybe ask her which would be more fun--the cruise where she stays with you and aunt, or going somewhere on a plane together--because those are in the same cost bracket. I wouldn't want to go so far beyond what I planned to pay.
    Cruises are a good vacation idea because they're so contained. My friend is always suggesting I take my FD on a cruise, because she can entertain herself without me having to plan activities and the potential for getting in trouble is fairly small.
    I also find that my FD puts on her company manners whenever she's around my family or other people, and so long weekends and vacations that involve more than just the two of us are a lot better because she's on her best behavior. But that could just be an individual case.
    So, if it were me and my foster daughter, a cruise with family would be better than flying somewhere just us.

  5. I second Michelle in giving Odessa the choice and trying not to go over your original cost bracket.

  6. No way, I wouldn't take her. Based on her behaviors she could ruin your trip and this is a level of freedom and privilege that she is not ready for yet. Lets just say outbursts in hotels are not fun, and you would be responsible. What if she runs off? I highly recommend starting out small, maybe a cheap weekend getaway, and slowly work your way up. My first few vacations with my teen were pure sacrifice on my part as I was teaching her appropriate behavior, it was not a vacation at all. We started with a few days and worked our way up.
    Yes its not nice to take a trip without her, but its not like you planned it without her, it was previously planned.

    If you do take her, I suggest a reward for her every single day that she can earn with good behavior if she maintains your sanity :), not ideal but you don't want her to ruin it for you, your family, the other passengers,etc. Don't offer her anything extra freely, but tell her she can earn souvenir money or whatever she ask for, with good behavior.
    I don't mean to sound harsh but the situation needs to be managed carefully IMHO.
    good luck!

  7. Before you plan anything, check with your worker to find out what the policies are for out-of-state travel.

    In many places, you can't take a kid out of state without a court order, and in some cases, they are hard to get.

  8. I'd take her and then put her on a plane home after the cruise while you couch surf and enjoy an extended time without her.

    If she has a history of behavioral issues, I'd share a room with her...