Mind Your Manners: Showing Kindness On the Road

Apr 26, 2022

“Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently, I was lucky enough to be in Oahu, Hawaii for a trip. Knowing the rental car situation had been especially dire there since the beginning of the pandemic, I went in expecting some hiccups when picking up my pre-paid and reserved vehicle from the airport. But ultimately, I wasn’t worried. I was in Hawaii, after all.

After making my way to the rental center, I saw there were several people waiting for their cars, too. Some expressed that they’d been there for hours and were visibly upset. Others were following visibly stressed employees around through the garage incessantly. When my turn at the desk came, I politely asked an employee for the best course of action and was told that they were behind on cleaning vehicles, but if I waited patiently, they’d have my car for me soon. So that’s what I did—without complaint.

Eventually, I was summoned by an employee over to a much nicer and larger vehicle than I had reserved.

“Here you go!” she said. They’d even waived the gas fee as a thank you for my patience and kindness.

I then learned the facility was brand new and had only opened the day before, leaving those who worked there to find their rhythm while also juggling a car shortage caused by a worldwide pandemic—at one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

The last two years have been so much about survival, that sometimes the human aspect of what we do can get lost. Unfortunately, the ripple effects from those small moments of simply trying to get by add up to something greater, if we’re not careful. Everyone wants to feel like the work they do matters, is appreciated and makes a difference for someone. And of course, everyone in the industry wants to get their groups back on the road.

As many who have been in the industry already well understand, building relationships and taking time to not zoom (no pun intended) through the motions just to get your own job done almost always yields successful trips and positive feedback—from both group members and industry partners alike.

In a world so often ridden with heartlessness, take it upon yourself to bring kindness back to the forefront.


Acknowledging someone’s presence and sharing your thanks.
It’s a common courtesy to acknowledge someone’s presence, even when doing something as small as crossing paths on the sidewalk in your neighborhood. Yet, this simple act of generosity and respect is often forgotten when on the road, leading to feelings of being unappreciated, undervalued and dismissed. Remember to say “hello” and “thank you” when boarding and exiting a motorcoach or plane, and ask drivers, servers or attendants what their name is—then remember it, use it and say it correctly.

Going the extra mile.
There’s a misconception that “going the extra mile” requires exerting an incredible amount of effort to produce a certain outcome. Believe me when I tell you: That’s not true! Often, going the extra mile means inviting a motorcoach driver inside a restaurant to join you and your group for a meal (or if they decline, bringing them back a special treat from one of your stops).

If you notice someone going the extra mile for you and your group in return, go above and beyond to share that praise back with them!

Keeping your cool.
Of course, this is a courtesy that should always go both ways. But ultimately, we’re all human and mistakes happen. How you handle mishaps and accidents can make or break an entire experience! When stressful situations arise, take a breath, reframe your perspective, put negative self-talk to bed and reach out to your support system if extra guidance is needed.

As cliche as it sounds, it’s true: You never know what might be going on in someone’s life. Half the time when someone isn’t the most kind, it’s a reflection of them—not you.

Keep in mind: Those moments where you decided to show empathy and kindness to others did not go unnoticed and are remembered beyond when your trip ends.


Research from the University of California indicates those who actively practice gratitude experience health benefits such as lower blood pressure, improved immune function, more efficient sleep and a 23% lower level of the stress hormone cortisol.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today and contributor to Teach & Travel.

This article originally appeared in the Mar/Apr ’22 issue of Groups Today.