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For many of us, the annual summer vacation looms in the near future. If you're worried about how to keep your kid(s) occupied, consider packing something a little unusual--one or more of their friends.

In an article that appeared today in the New York Times Style section, Ralph Gardner Jr. examines the growing phenomenon of inviting one or more of your child's friends on vacation. Take Alessandra Gotbaum of Brooklyn, who has accompanied friends' families to London, Paris, St. Bart's, Venice, and for Passover, to the South of France. Holly Hughes, author of Frommer's 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up, offers a reason. "Sometimes it's the only way to get a teenager to go on a trip," she says.

Gardner is quick to point out that the biggest issue when inviting a guest along is money. "The general etiquette seems to be that the guest's family provides air fare and spending money." One father, who remains anonymous because his daughter and the girl are still close, "said that he still resents the parents who sent their daughter to St. Bart's with his family for a week with only $20 in her pocket. "That's like a couple of croissants." This gem of a quote is not the only subtlety in the article that makes it clear that affluence is an influential factor in bringing a guest (or two, or three), especially when the vacation involves airfare. The family who invited Alessandra Gotbaum to the South of France for Passover is that of architect Daniel Libeskind.

Jane McConnell of Boulder, Colorado says that after "wrestling" with the idea, "she's inviting a friend for each of her four children when they go kayaking and camping." She admits that this is "yet another way parents overindulge their kids these days. "They're a little more self-centered, and that's our fault," she said. "But I've sort of grown into the concept that the kids have a better time.'"

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