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Four Classic Traveling Parent Fails

Matt Villano

Today marks the 18th consecutive day we’ve been on the road as part of our month-long Hawaiian adventure. Naturally, we’ve had some incredible experiences during that time (If you have not visited Hana, on Maui, get there. Soon. And stay a while). Unfortunately, we also have had some real stinker moments—usually brought about by other traveling parents, being jerks.

Here, then, in no particular order, are four of the most egregious traveling parent fails we’ve witnessed or experienced out here in the Aloha State.

Fail No. 1: The illiterate dummy
Granted, rangers in the Kipahulu region of Haleakala National Park have trouble with grammar (see photo above). But the sentiment behind those signs at the Seven Sacred Pools outside of Hana is clear: Whatever you visitors do, don’t jump. Why, then, did at least two dads encourage their children to leap from the rocks into the pools below?  Either these fathers had some oddball life insurance policy rider that paid out if the kids became paralyzed, or they weren’t literate and were just plain dumb. (Thankfully, we did not witness tragedy.)

Fail No. 2: The line-cutter from hell
I originally hail from New York, which means I’m not afraid to speak up when I feel I’ve been wronged. That’s exactly what I did when, after waiting 20 minutes for a rental car shuttle in Kona, some a-holes who had just disembarked their plane cut in front of me and my toddler, angling to take the last two seats on the bus. I asked the eldest of the offending party, “Do you always make a habit of cutting in front of dads with little girls?” His response contained most of the seven dirty words. Let’s hope my daughter was too sleep-deprived to remember anything.

Fail No. 3: The closet choke fetishist
Kukui nuts are everywhere in Hawaii; they grow on trees and commonly are strung together into leis, then given to guests at fancy resorts. A few hours after arriving at the Fairmont Orchid (I’ll write more about this wonderful property later in the week), we spied a mother oohing, aahing and snapping iPhone pictures as her infant son mouthed one of these leis like his life depended on it. Did the thing snap and dislodge a nut to block the kid’s airway? No. But every oddsmaker in Vegas would have made that outcome the favorite.

Fail No. 4: The neglector
We thought it was a little weird when the random 7-year-old glommed on to our family at the freshwater caves inside Wai’anapanapa State Park near Hana. Later, when we spotted the same girl without a chaperone playing in the crashing waves of a very rough beach, we got concerned. Turns out the mother was sunbathing all the while, flirting up some guy half her age. Apparently “vacation” means different things to different people; some take it more literally than the rest of us.

What are some of the worst traveling parent fails you’ve experienced over the years? Please share your stories and opinions in the comment boxes below.