Face it: For better or for worse, our kids mimic lots of the everyday the stuff we parents do. At home, this might mean they put forks in the dishwasher tines-up or sit with their feet on the coffee table. On the road, it can mean a lot worse.
For these reasons, it’s important to set good examples on that next family trip.
Here, then, in no particular order, are four common travel situations about which we should be more circumspect when the kids are around.
Tipping service workers
Taxi drivers, bellhops, housekeeping staffers, and other service personnel in the hospitality industry rely on tips and deserve them for good (and even mediocre) work. It behooves us travelers to hook them up. The best way to approach gratuities with children is to involve them in the tipping process, and explain why you’re leaving something extra. These extra steps should instill in kids at a young age respect for those who work to serve us travelers. At the very least, it should get them accustomed to the act. (For a rundown on how much to tip, click here and here.)
Graciousness in airports
Between ticket agents, TSA agents and gate agents, airports bring us face-to-face with quite literally dozens of transportation employees on every flight. These people work hard. In relatively challenging jobs. Which means that simple thank-yous to some of these workers will make their days. Involving the kids in this one is easy; you can have the kids start the thank-you party and chime in when they’re through. At a time when many traveling families (and other travelers, for that matter) exhibit a sense of entitlement, this kind of gratitude can go a long way.
Yes, rental car companies employ people who are paid to clean up the garbage left in your vehicle once you return it. But that doesn’t mean leaving the garbage there is OK. The same goes for hotel rooms; just because there’s a maid service doesn’t mean it’s cool to trash the room. Having your children participate in the clean-up process eliminates these problems and teaches kids valuable lessons about respecting property, too. Who knows? The process of cleaning up on vacation might even inspire the kiddos to start cleaning up after themselves at home.
Interacting with the less fortunate
The rule on family trips when I was a child was simple: Don’t talk to homeless people, even if they talk to you. I always thought the approach was stupid (sorry Mom); the less fortunate deserve all of the same courtesies we give to everybody else. I’m not suggesting you go and sing Maroon 5 with every person who grubs money off you. I am, however, saying that responding to these pleas with a curt-but-polite, “Sorry, not today,” will show your kids that all strangers—especially the ones that don’t look like you—deserve to be treated with decency.
What other examples should we parents be setting for our children on the next family trip? Leave a comment and let me know.