What family travelers can learn from road warriors

Shut up!

If we’ve learned anything during a week when a man was assaulted for failing to give up his seat on an airplane, it’s this: As life-changing as travel can be, it often brings out the worst in people.

Family travelers have known this fact for years; in many cases, simply walking onto an airplane with a baby draws dirty looks, sighs, and “talking tos” from passengers who want to make sure our kids know how to behave at 35,000 feet.

Increasingly, however, this fact is becoming clearer to everybody else.

The tragedy, of course, is that for the most part, moms and dads who travel with kids are among the most empathetic of all passengers. Heck, even when we moms and dads aren’t traveling with our kids, we tend to be more aware of ourselves and the people around us and how everybody can live together most peacefully.

I’m experiencing this very fact as I type these words. I’m sitting in the Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport, where I am surrounded by three “road warrior” business-traveler types who are literally screaming into their cell phone headsets.

To my left, a man is yelling so he’s heard during a conference call. To my right, a dude is talking to a colleague IRL, and they’re yelling about a client and how “stuck up” he or she is. Across the way, some dude is yelling at his voice recognition software to answer a ringing phone. ANSWER! ANSWER! ANSWER! He won’t stop. ANSWER! ANSWER!

Oh, there’s also the dude who’s actually traveling with his wife and child and is trying to conduct some sort of business call and keeps shushing his kid with the most disruptive and offensive shush you’ve ever heard in your life. (Why he doesn’t just politely ask his wife to entertain the child, who knows.)

Am I ranting? Perhaps. But it’s also painfully clear to me in this moment that even when my kids are acting up at the airport, they’re not nearly as loud or disruptive as these men (they’re all men, of course, aren’t they always?). Put differently, families and family travelers get a bum rap for being loud and obnoxious and annoying but the reality is that most of the time kids are no more loud and obnoxious and annoying than grownup fliers.

The takeaway, of course, is just to be aware. When you’re traveling with kids, be aware that kids will be kids, and sometimes it’s perfectly OK for them to laugh and exclaim and be excited about the fact that they’re going to fly like birds. When you’re traveling solo, be aware of others around you and adjust your own behavior accordingly.

I guess a secondary takeaway from all of this is always to travel with earplugs. You never know when you might need some outside help.

Family travel for road warriors

As someone who does a significant amount of solo travel for work, I’m always planning epic trips as a way to reconnect with the family members I’ve left behind. For us, these trips (such as last month’s week-long escapade at Walt Disney World Resort) aren’t only about escaping, they’re about escaping together. And the adventures almost always are the kinds of jaunts we’ll all remember for life.

This is why I particularly was moved by a new ad from one of my biggest clients, Expedia. On the surface, the ad, a television commercial, trumpets Expedia’s new Expedia+ rewards program, which gives customers one point for every dollar spent on travel.

Really, however, the ad is a comment on the notion of reconnecting with family after a series of business trips.

The family in the ad uses some of the dad’s 83,000 Expedia+ Rewards points to head out on an African Safari. While we Villanos haven’t traveled that far afield, we have come close, and we certainly aren’t ruling out that type of trip in the future.

For me, the bottom line here is that sometimes, family travel is about more than the travel itself. It’s refreshing to see an online travel agency like Expedia recognize that reality in this medium.

%d bloggers like this: