There is nothing like travel for teaching children the proper way to conduct themselves. Whether poolside, in the restaurant or on the plane ride home, there's a right and wrong way to behave, and good manners make the difference. Parents do children (and those around them) a great disservice if not enforcing correct travel etiquette.
According to Suzanne Willis, Director of Mimi's Manners in Sarasota, Florida, "Etiquette goes with you wherever you go. Manners matter everywhere. Just because you are going in a different environment from home, the same rules apply." When asking students in one of her many etiquette classes, "Do manners matter in McDonald's?" the overwhelming response was "No," but Willis, whose students refer to her as 'Miss Suzanne,' begs to differ, and kudos to her.
Look before you leap!
The old saying "Children should be seen and not heard" has some validity. Willis shares the biggest "no-nos" kids do on vacation: running and screaming in the hotel hallways, jumping on the bed, and pushing every button on the elevator. "Be respectful of people," she says.
A cannonball done in the pool right next to a lady lounging in her finest Gucci ensemble is not going to be appreciated. Willis encourages kids not only to curb the cannonball splashes poolside, but to follow all rules listed, as in showering before entering, cleaning up lunch items and playing music quietly.
Willis saw a need for etiquette classes for children and adults alike. After more than 12 years as Public Relations Director for several upscale hotels, she decided to honor her late 92-year old grandmother Mimi and has dedicated herself to passing on Miss Mimi's etiquette lessons. "Miss Suzanne’s" curriculum has seen much success during the past 10 years, and many of her students have enjoyed impressive accomplishments.
To her students (ages 6-12), she stresses areas such as
- dining etiquette
- the importance of knowing who the maitre d' is
- how to read a menu
- remembering to pack your quiet voice when you go on vacation (no matter where you are in a hotel!)
Willis also teaches adults that housekeepers are often overlooked. Because their work is not witnessed (think of the rooms being cleaned while you're out), these staffers are often not tipped, but their service is no less important. Keep the room somewhat tidy and leave a gratuity for your housekeeper, either daily, or at the end of your stay. It is most appreciated.
If you're in the Florida area, it might be fun and informative to brush up yours and your children's travel skills by registering for Mimi's Manners classes. Classes occur often at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota and the Edison estate in Fort Myers. Private lessons are also available.
Children who travel need to learn who all the people are in travel situations - from the flight attendant to the hotel concierge - and how to treat them while on vacation. Manners matter, and by using them. children feel a sense of accomplishment. Teaching them to master these skills will serve them well for the rest of their lives.