Saturday, April 16, 2011

Travel Lessons for Kids

My new column appeared in the newspaper this past Monday, but for some reason it failed to appear on the newspaper's website.  So here it is.  For those of you who recently enjoyed, are currently enjoying, or will soon enjoy Spring Break, here are a few travel lessons.  Use them as a useful reminder or as preparation for an upcoming trip.  Either way, thanks for reading.

For my children (eager travelers both) and for junior journeyers everywhere, here is a quick review of lessons learned during spring break.

Many people travel. Most are not on vacation. Businessmen, retirees, and other parents may not appreciate your physical and/or vocal efforts to prevent siblings from reaching the next suitcase out of the tunnel at baggage claim before you.

Parents occasionally face unexpected hassles on vacation, at the rental car counter for instance. After selecting the rental car recommended online for your traveling party, plus luggage, the agent might ask your parents, “Is it just the two of you?” and “How many bags do you have?” As your parents try to decide if they are being taken for a ride before actually renting the vehicle, please refrain from using the suitcases in an improvised demolition derby. This will not aid their decision.

Once you are properly loaded into the recently upgraded rental, loud music, while enjoyable, does not help parents navigate unfamiliar highways. This is especially true on interstate highways five lanes wide.

When checking into a hotel, parents must answer certain questions immediately. “Where’s the pool?” is not one of these questions.

Yes, everyone needs to use the restroom, even when traveling. And yes, most gas stations have restrooms. But no, we’re not stopping at that one even if your teeth are singing “Anchors Aweigh.”

Sticker price is a myth. This is particularly true when you are a tourist. Here are some fees frequently added to tourists’ bills: state sales tax, local sales tax, excise tax, segment fee, facility charge, security fee, bed tax, occupancy tax, room tax, service fee, and gratuity. This is the reason why Mom needed to loan you $18.63 even though you had saved exactly enough money.

And I’m sorry, but I only know what three of those fees are.

Even though Grandpa slipped you some cash and told you to get yourself something nice, stopping at the video game resale shop does not count as a souvenir nor is it what Papa intended.

Just because a restaurant claims to have the “Best Fish in Florida” or “Award-Winning Pie” doesn’t necessarily make it so, nor does it make the restaurant any cleaner in your mother’s eyes.

Repacking for home is not as simple as “stuffin’ it in” as you say. It takes a cooperative and concerted effort by both parents to fit everything the family initially brought plus the extras picked up along the way. Unless you want your beach sand and seashells to stay behind, keep quiet, keep out of way, and turn down the hotel TV.

Meals on travel days do not fit traditional meal schedules. If food is not available when you are hungry, whining, crying, and/or blaming your parents won’t make it magically appear. At the same time, when food is available, eat. Saying you aren’t hungry or dismissing a cheeseburger because it’s not “breakfast food” are not legitimate reasons to fast.

Finally, yes, everybody’s ears do that on a plane, but don’t ask repeatedly, “Hello? Hello? Hello?” to test your hearing. People seated nearby can still hear you.

And I hope you’re hearing me.