Thanks to All Who Take Care of Us When We Travel

Thanks to All Who Take Care of Us When We Travel

By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert

Whenever we travel, there are a lot of people who make us feel special by the way they take care of us.

So, I thought this week, I would provide you a tribute to those who make our travels better by the wonderful service they provide to us during our trips and offer some ideas about how you can become a classy traveler.

Some awesome waiters on the AmaKristina

Some awesome waiters on the AmaKristina

I See You

I think we all like to be appreciated and recognized.  Some are better than others in recognizing their own self-worth, but I know all of us like to be recognized for the work we do.  It probably is even more so in the services industry where providing comforts, food, drinks, and clean rooms could easily go unrecognized except for a tip when appropriate.

Tania and Anne on an AmaWaterways cruise—real appreciate from my wife!

Tania and Anne on an AmaWaterways cruise—real appreciate from my wife!

To me, the real issue is recognizing those who serve your needs in a manner that lets them know I see you and value your service.  We often just expect to be taken care of, provide a tip and give little thought to the lives of the folks who take care of us.  I think is especially true when there is a language barrier.

Here’s a simple thought—why not learn to say thank you, please or good morning in the language of the folks taking care of you?  You are saying more than I see you and value your culture. 

Some of our friends excel at this, especially Mark Thomas, who notes the nationality of a crew member on an AmaWaterways cruise and uses his cell phone to learn a phrase or two and then uses it.  You can’t imagine the number of smiles it brings. He does in all our land stops also.

Mark and Denise Thomas with Santa Claus for Christmas Even Dinner—he greeted the waitstaff in Dutch!

Mark and Denise Thomas with Santa Claus for Christmas Even Dinner—he greeted the waitstaff in Dutch!


Empathy is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as “: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”.

So, why should you have empathy to those hired to serve you?—I guess for me it is simple—these human beings are not unfeeling creatures, who should be treated in a dignified manner—not shouted at, or treated disrespectfully.  We have watched angry folks berate a waiter/waitress because the food service or wine was slow, not recognizing that their meal was being created from scratch and would be wonderful, or that it was a mom/pop operation with only 2 serving a packed house, especially in Europe.  Usually these servers are going full tilt—most of us could not keep up their pace for an hour, let alone for a full day.

My point is that most of us need to relax, slow down a little and enjoy the pace that may be just a little slower than you are used to—just have a little empathy to those that serve you and you will gain more than you expect.

Hank and a staff member on a 2018 AmaWaterways cruise

Hank and a staff member on a 2018 AmaWaterways cruise

Learning About Others

Especially in foreign travel, the people who serve you can give you a wonderful insight to different cultures.  Imagine the reversed roles—you have difficulty speaking English, since it is not your native tongue, and you would like to introduce them to some of the better meals choices or sights but they seem rude or impatient, so you decide to offer only the necessary service.  Wow, what a lost opportunity! 

By just being friendly, we learned these two plan to get married—really cool!

By just being friendly, we learned these two plan to get married—really cool!

Anne excels at this—she often lets the waiter chose her meals with some parameters, and most of the time the results rock the house.

By just being friendly, suddenly doors open—I can’t tell the number of times we have been told about great places to visit or to eat out because we showed a genuine interest in the folks provided us a meal or tour or cleaned our room.  Try asking a few questions about their country or town and watch them swell up with pride as the tell you of their homeland.

Trust me, you will be the winner—you will learn about new places and cultures—isn’t that one of the reasons why you went on the trip in the first place?

Don’t be an Arrogant Traveler

We have a few basic rules to ensure we won’t become arrogant travelers.

First is the golden rule—treat others like you would like to be treated.

Respect the customs of the place you are visiting—for example no inappropriate clothing when visiting a religious building.

Try to make complaints in private, not public.  Often a supervisor or key person can resolve problems quickly and appreciate knowing something was not to standards or they can explain why they had to handle a situation and you might see the situation in a completely different way.

What is the lesson here—perhaps you can be a little more tolerant of those who help you travel—even if it gets messed up, handle the situation with class and it most often will get resolved in the right way and to your satisfaction. 

Be rude, or disrespectful and just the opposite might happen—just my friendly warning.

Mutual Respect

In my classroom as a high school teacher, instead of a laundry list of rules, I had only one rule--mutual respect.  Just treat others the way you want to be treated.  Just by asking when something went wrong in the classroom, “was that respect?” it solved most problems, bad behavior and conflicts. 

We are not aristocrats of a bygone era who felt it was their right to be served by others and those who served them were lucky to have jobs, regardless of how they treated them more.  

If your importance depends upon belittling others, you deserve lousy service, in my humble opinion.  Try a little respect—it always seems to work.

I See You and Value Your Service—a Shout Out to Some Folks Who have Made Our Travels Better

We have had some wonderful guides during our travels. One that has to stand out is Johan our D Day Guide for 2014 and 2019 for our group we escort for the 70th and 75th Anniversary of D Day.

Johan explaining about WW I on a tour

Johan explaining about WW I on a tour

In Europe, waiters are usually career professionals.  In some of our favorite restaurants, we often see familiar faces, many often remember us even if it has been a year or longer.  The same can be said for hotel reception staff. 

Thanks for making our travels better!

Since we river cruise on AmaWaterways often, we would be remiss not to recognize them.  The entire crew is special and deserve a shout out.  I have always admired the crews of AmaWaterways ship for their warm, friendly service, but it goes deeper—they are very much like a military team, deployed away from home, speaking English, not their native language, and despite the loneliness and long hours, and always seemingly cheerful.  And, if you make an attempt, they will let into their world.  All it takes, is a little respect, a little patience, a thank you or please or just a friendly smile—not really too hard, is it? 

Bar Staff on the AmaDagio 2013—right to left, Miro, Peter and Tomas—awesome folks!

Bar Staff on the AmaDagio 2013—right to left, Miro, Peter and Tomas—awesome folks!

Chef’s Table Waitstaff on AmaWatwerways

Chef’s Table Waitstaff on AmaWatwerways

Well done AmaWaterways—we can’t wait for our next adventure with you!

My Final Thoughts

Perhaps this blog will make you reconsider recognizing the wonderful people who take care of you during your travels.  Show some empathy, be respectful, learn a little about others and don’t be an arrogant traveler.

Try my mantra I see you and value your service—your travels will be better, I promise!

We see you and value a chance to plan your travel—THANK YOU! When you are spending your hard-earned money for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip.  You want someone who will understand your expectations and fuel your anticipation (or excitement) to get you the best possible trip experience.  And, you want someone who can help you with the decision making process.  We think we have all these qualities.

Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you!  We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel.  Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at  We want to help you:  Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!

Hank Schrader.JPG

HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 48 years.  He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years.  He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees.   His other Certifications are:

  • AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist

  • Viking River Cruise Specialist

  • Scenic River Cruise Specialist

  • Emerald Waterways Specialist

  • Avalon Waterways Specialist

  • Brit Agent