Travelers with kids have a fundamental thing in common with travelers who don't have kids, which is that both groups do things on the road that annoy me and my family. I can’t speak for other vacationing parents, but I’m certain they’re familiar with some of the people described here.
1. The person who reclines his or her seat into my kid
I don’t have an issue with people who recline their airplane seat, but before violently rocking it back, check if there’s a child behind you. If there is, recline gradually. If you’re the child’s parent, be proactive and ask that passenger in front of your child to let you know if and when they intend to recline their seat.
2. The traveler who holds hot coffee above my child’s head
I’m appalled by how many people at airports, parents among them, carelessly suspend coffee cups above the heads of their kids and others who may be nearby. Stop it.
3. Any grownup who talks directly to my kid
Don’t ever speak directly to my child unless I've already engaged you in conversation. This especially applies to middle-aged men. Complimenting my daughter on her looks may seem harmless, but pass the compliment through me first, otherwise, you’re just creepy.
4. The restaurant-goer who preemptively makes a face at my family
You walk into a restaurant, see my family sitting there, and without provocation you look horrified and dramatically pantomime to the hostess that you must be seated far from us. If you don’t want to sit near us, fine, but be more subtle about it. Then again, based on your behavior, we don’t want to sit near you either.
5. The woman who gives me a dirty look when I emerge from the ladies room with my kids
When my daughters were toddlers and a restaurant’s single-stall men’s room was occupied, I’d drag them with me into the single-stall ladies room, often emerging to find a woman scowling at us. I’m annoyed with myself now for apologizing to these women.
6. The kid who splashes in the hotel pool
You know the kid I'm talking about. He literally can’t turn around in the pool without excessively splashing my family. Ask him to calm down, please. Per rule #3, I can’t ask myself.
7. The child who hovers over mine at the arcade
If my kid is playing a game at an arcade, it’s not endearing if your child hovers too close, tries to push buttons or otherwise interferes with my kid’s turn. Pull your child back, and instruct him to take a chill pill.
8. Parents who let their kids wander away from them in line
Your family is behind mine in line at a theme park and your children start sliding next to us and inevitably, ahead of us, in line. Yes, I’m aware you probably don’t intend to let your kids cut us once the line starts moving, but their wandering ahead makes us anxious.
9. The cursing hotel elevator dudes
If I’m riding a hotel elevator with my kids and two or more guys in their twenties get on, one of them will inevitably drop the F bomb before the door even slides shut. I’m often tempted to ask, “Would you gentlemen mind watching your language?” but I don't always follow that advice myself, so that would make me a hypocrite.
10. The family who feels entitled to sit together on the bus
You board a bus with your kid, don’t find two seats together, and get hostile when no one immediately responds to your request to switch seats. Your attitude annoys me because your technique is all wrong. The key is to wait it out silently for at least ten awkward seconds until another passenger caves in.
Who annoys you when traveling with your family?
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