101 Travel-A Beginner’s Guide to Travel Manners

Traveler with traveling essentials
Travel Etiquette

Traveling is a luxury, but people don’t always treat it that way. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had my relaxing journey disturbed by someone who doesn’t adhere to what I consider basic travel etiquette. When you travel as much as I do, you notice many little things that can impact your whole experience. I’m often surprised by some people’s lack of travel manners, so I wanted to share some of my top tips and suggestions for traveling courteously.

Luggage stacked in variety of colors

Travel etiquette isn’t just about what you do on the plane–good travel manners start at the airport. Making your way through a crowded airport can be a stressful experience, especially if you are trying to catch a connecting flight. But even worse is getting your toes run over by someone’s suitcase wheels! It can be hard to make your way through a crowd while dragging a big bag behind you, but even when you’re in a rush, it’s essential to be conscious of the space you and your bag are taking up. Watch for other travelers as you navigate the terminal with your bag in tow.  

Airport Check InBetter yet, check your big bags: I know it can be inconvenient, but particularly if you are traveling with heavy or unwieldy luggage, it can make the experience better for everyone. Relaxing in the airport can be quite pleasurable, especially with all the shopping, dining, and lounging opportunities at major hubs. If you are going on vacation, you might as well start your trip in the most relaxing way possible! You’ll enjoy the airport experience much more if you aren’t worrying about maneuvering your giant bag through the crowds. 

Read the Room

People walking in airport terminal

Recently, I was relaxing in the Air France business lounge before my flight. The lounge was full of business people working quietly on their laptops. The environment would have been perfectly peaceful had it not been for one couple who was loudly discussing their dinner plans over speakerphone with a friend. If you are in a quiet space, please be considerate and move elsewhere for loud conversations–no one wants to hear whether you are eating Italian or sushi for dinner! Pay attention to the tone of the space around you to be sure you won’t be disturbing your fellow travelers.

On the Plane

Good travel manners are even more critical when on the plane since you and your fellow travelers will be nearby. Keeping in mind the following suggestions helps to make the flight pleasant for everyone on board.

Inside of an airplane with multiple passengers watching screens

Personal Space

Personal space can be pretty limited on flights, so you must be mindful of how much space you take up relative to the passengers around you. If you are traveling with a big bag or coat, check that it isn’t edging your neighbor’s space. In economy class, the person sitting in the middle seat should have priority for the armrests. And there’s nothing more annoying than being disrupted by a neighbor who needs to get something from the overhead bin every fifteen minutes– makes it easy on the others seated in your row by bringing your bag down from the bin after takeoff if you need to access it many times throughout the flight.

Passenger sleeping on plane

Noise Control

I’m sure most frequent travelers can relate to me here–nothing snaps you out of your relaxed vacation mindset faster than having your reading–or worse, your sleep–disturbed by people speaking in their “outside voices” or sound effects at total volume from a kid’s iPad.

Passenger on AirplaneEveryone should do their part to keep the overall noise in the plane at a minimum; using your “inside voice” and keeping devices on silent make a big difference. I also recommend bringing your headphones on your flight, as the airline’s free earbuds won’t keep out the sound of the snoring person beside you. (I never travel without my noise-canceling headphones–more on my travel essentials here.) 

In flight

Common Courtesy

Take note of what others on the plane are doing. If everyone is trying to sleep and you still have your window shade open, please close it! This is my number one pet peeve. I like to travel with an eye mask just in case, but the courteous thing to do is to close the window blind so that everyone has the chance to sleep. Also, if you like to take your shoes off, bring a pair of slippers on the plane with you. Not only does this make it easier to make a trip to the bathroom without having to lace up your sneakers again, but it also is more respectful to those around you who probably don’t want to see your bare feet!

Traveling isn’t always relaxing, but if everyone followed these simple tips for travel etiquette, time in transit would be much smoother. I hope these suggestions will come in handy next time you travel. Let me know if you have any other travel manners I didn’t mention here! We all play a role in making the travel experience as pleasurable as possible. Let’s try to be mindful of how our behavior affects our fellow travelers. Bon voyage!

Up in the air