Raising a 5-star Traveler

On a recent trip to Cancun I watched a little boy of about 4 get up from the table to go to the washroom with his mother.  Miraculous? Not so much. But what did cause my  jaw to drop? He folded his napkin and placed it on his chair as he left.

Dining Out

Dining at the Ritz Carlton is less painful when kids have learned the lessons at home

It’s the kind of thing he probably didn’t teach himself. Clearly he’s being raised in a house where parents have exposed him to this small but genteel trait that will serve him well down the road.

You don’t have to be wealthy or even take the kids on an international trip to prep them for 5- star travel.

My parents did it with trips to Swiss Chalet and threats of shipping me off to a northern finishing school – something they could never have afforded or ever truly had the inclination to do – but it worked.

Later, when as a lawyer I had to attend dinners and client meetings, there was no fear of which fork to use. I could concentrate instead on making the right impression and enjoying the meal.

Now I’m trying to teach my kids the same. The nature of my job means that I’m often invited to fancy schmancy hotels and dinners and if the kids are with me, they come too.  To make those moments less harrowing, we try to expose them to restaurant eating (bread plate on the left is yours, drink on the right) , hotel-staying (no you can’t run down the hall screaming) and airplane etiquette (no seat-kicking and easy with the table tray slams) in less stressful situations.

Eight years later it seems to be working. The kids don’t seem to ever be uncomfortable in the places we visit. They are relaxed enough that they get to enjoy the experience and well-behaved enough that their dad and I can do the same.

All in all I think we’ve been successful. Though I have to admit there was a moment recently when I wondered if we may have done it too well.;)

A little too comfortable?

What about at your house? What steps are you taking to prep your kids for good behaviour when you travel?

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{ 7 comments… add one }

Maija January 11, 2011, 12:30 PM

I couldn’t agree more! You don’t need to be at a five star restaurant to teach your children five star manners. I work very hard every day to ensure my children are polite, travel well and of course use proper table manners. My seven year old completely understands and my three year old is learning that if you have good manners and are well-behaved it means you can go to lots of fun places (the baby of course has no idea but she’ll learn too).

Thanks for posting on the topic and as for your son lounging in his 5-star environment I don’t think that means you’ve gone too far, I think it’s exactly how a child should be on vacation – relaxed, enjoying and not a care in the world.

Happy Travels!



Heather Greenwood Davis January 11, 2011, 1:29 PM

Thanks Maija. Though once you meet Cameron you’ll see that he’s become quite acclimatized to the “lifestyle.” :)


Michele Peterson January 12, 2011, 1:55 AM

That’s such a funny photo of your son! Reminds me of my 3-year old grandson who politely asked “where’s the rose?” when the waiter delivered his chicken nuggets via room service sans rose. A rose had been on the tray every day and all of a sudden there wasn’t one. I guess he’d grown to like them.


Heather Greenwood Davis January 12, 2011, 3:58 AM

Love that! “Where’s the rose?” Hilarious!


Sharon January 18, 2011, 3:48 PM

It can be hard work teaching your children good manners, but if you start early and persist, it can pay off. It’s also good to know when to let them off the leash a bit. If a hotel corridor is empty and it’s not early in the morning or late at night, then my daughter can run (no screaming allowed, though!). Generally, it works well and people compliment us on her behaviour.


Heather Greenwood Davis January 21, 2011, 9:59 PM

Great point Sharon. Equally important that kids get a chance to be a kids! Appreciate the comment.


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