In today's world, a little kindness goes a long way. And, research shows that teaching kids to be kind has a positive influence on a slew of academic, health and social outcomes including increased self-esteem, motivation to learn and resilience.
Here are five ways to incorporate random acts of kindness into your next family vacation.
1. Pack an attitude of gratitude.
Leave impatience and judgment behind and showcase an attitude of gratitude. Lead with a smile and offer thanks to those you meet along the way. From harried flight attendants, pilots, TSA agents and front desk personnel to tour guides, bus drivers, restaurant servers and room attendants, encourage the kids to say thank you whenever appropriate. Consider leaving a handwritten note or crayon drawing along with your tip, an extra effort sure to garner a smile from the recipient. If you loved your hotel stay or cruise ship experience, leave a note congratulating the whole crew for a job well done.
2. Be aware of your surroundings.
Encourage the kids to take note of the pregnant woman, the elderly or handicapped who might be standing in a crowded bus, airline terminal or hotel lobby while the young and able lounge in chairs. Discuss (and model) how offering a seat, a hand or opening a door can be helpful. Encourage the heavily laden or parents managing a cranky child to go ahead in line. Perhaps a strong teen can assist a frail adult with removing a heavy piece of luggage from the overhead compartment. In the queue for a soda or coffee? Quietly pay for someone in uniform or an elderly person behind you in line. By simply taking notice, opportunities for extending kindness will multiply.
3. Pack with a purpose.
Reserve a little space in your luggage for books, clothing or school supplies that will make a difference in the lives of others in your destination. The nonprofit organization Pack With A Purpose works with hundreds of hotels and tour operators in 60 countries to help travelers contribute to those in need. Whether you stow pencils, a deflated soccer ball, a stethoscope or pet supplies in your bags, you and your family will return home knowing you've helped spread kindness beyond your own backyard.
4. Walk, run or bike for charity.
Research your destination to determine if there is an opportunity to combine healthy exercise with the chance to give back in your getaway spot. Ask your hotel about opportunities or connect with the local tourism organization for ideas. The Humane Society may be able to suggest events that will help homeless animals. If there is a charity you support or have interest in at home, give them a call to see if they can provide a contact in your intended destination. LiveStrong has combined a list of nationwide events on their website. Peruse the options for a match.
5. Take a volunteer vacation.
Whether you offer an hour, a day or a week, giving back of your time and resources makes for a meaningful holiday. Spend time reading to kids at a nearby school, help save sharks or turtles, share the gift of language or scoop ice cream and assist with pony rides for kids with life-threatening illnesses staying at a nonprofit resort.
Resource: Contact the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for more ideas. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/