Traveling presents so many opportunities for learning….especially with children. While they in a completely new environment, learning new cultures and geography, they are also presented with the chance to expand their horizons.
This summer, while on our Bigger Than Texas Road Trip, I want my children to learn about the areas they are visiting. That’s easy. But I also want them to grow within, making an impact and leaving a positive impression where ever they go. Hmm, that may take a bit more work.
So before we left on our trip, I sat down with my older two (12 & 10) and discussed the concept of “paying it forward” on our upcoming trip. We have served in our community through scouts, church, and even spent a whole day over the Christmas break “spreading joy” with only $10 (we impacted over 43 people that day!).
It is easy and rewarding to give back in your own community, where you are comfortable with your own surroundings. But serving other while on vacation? That was a new concept for my kids. And that is why discussing it ahead of time and brain-storming ideas helped them realize that it really doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a difference in someone’s life.
My favorite idea that we came up with is to simply “be happy”. The impact of a smile and pleasant conversation to a stranger is immeasurable. It’s the core principle behind paying it forward. Think about how you feel when someone flashes you a genuine smile – makes you want to smile back, doesn’t it?
So here are a few ideas my children came up with of how we are going to make a difference while on the road this summer:
Ideas to Pay It Forward – Road Tripping Style
- Offer to take photos for other people
- Hold the door open for someone
- Pick up trash when you see it
- Pay a compliment to someone
- Write a great review on Yelp! of a restaurant or attraction we really enjoyed
- Leave a really BIG tip in a really SMALL town diner
- Let someone cut in line in front of you at Disneyland
- Give up your parking space to someone else
- Stop and offer to help someone with car trouble
- Give someone else your ride tickets/ fastpasses
- Pay for someone else’s parking, entry fee, toll, coffee, etc.
- Try to eat and shop at locally-owned businesses
- Write a handwritten thank you card to someone at a place you visited
- Leave your book you finished in a coffee shop with a note to “read it forward”
- If there’s an accident or potential hazard on the road, report it
- If you arrive at an intersection at the same time as someone else, let them go first
- Wave a Thank You to someone who does something nice for you
- Return a stray shopping cart to the parking lot spot
If you have a few hours and the time to plan
- Donate food or clothing to a local shelter
- Volunteer at a shelter
- Plant a tree
- Donate pet food or towels to a local animal shelter
- Go to Serve.gov to find serving opportunities in the areas you will be in