Q: I need to take my four-month-old baby on a cross-country flight to visit her grandparents. She’ll undoubtedly cry, make bad smells, etc. What can I do to avoid the other passengers’ wrath? Is it rude to even attempt this?
A: Some people seem to think no child under 10 should be allowed to fly—that’s crazy. I suspect they’ll feel differently someday when their grandchildren live 3,000 miles away.
The flying public needs to cut small children some major slack. I’m not talking about ill-behaved older kids—the seat-kickers, the ones who throw tantrums because they can’t use their iPod during takeoff, etc. We’ll deal with them, and their oblivious parents, another time. Babies, however, can’t help being… babies. If anybody gives you a hard time for bringing a baby on a plane, they’re the rude one.
You should, however, do your best to make your daughter happy and comfortable on the plane. If she gets fussy after dinner, fly earlier. Aisle seats allow quick diaper-changing getaways. Bring toys (but not noisy toys). Avoid the redeye. But this is all just common sense.
If she does have a bad flight and others seem bothered, be the bigger person and apologize. Recognizing that someone’s annoyed and saying “I’m sorry” goes a long way… even if you can’t change why they’re mad.
Q: My best friend and I—two blonde American girls—are in Rome. Yesterday, we were sitting next to several Italian guys in a café. They heard us speaking English and started saying nasty things about us in Italian. Well, we’re fluent in Italian; we understood every word. We wanted to bust them on it. Can we? How?
A: It depends where you are. A crowded café in daytime is one thing; a dark alley at 2 am is quite another. If you have the slightest suspicion something ill might befall you, just leave—it’s not worth it.
However, if you are somewhere safe, it’s simple—have the following conversation with your friend.
You: I’m so glad we’re fluent in Italian!
Your friend: Yes, we can understand everything!
You: So far, everyone has been completely polite and respectful!
Your friend: Everyone’s parents must be very proud!
But in Italian, of course, and loud enough that they can hear. I bet they’ll pipe down.
Q: I can tip in dollars everywhere, right?
A: Of course not. If you were a waiter in Peoria, would you appreciate a tip in Sri Lankan rupees? Unless the U.S. dollar is widely accepted in the country you’re visiting, tip in the local currency.
by Lesley Carlin
© 2009, originally published by Scripps Howard News Service