Travel Manners 101
Traveling is a luxury, but people don’t always treat it that way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my relaxing journey disturbed by someone who doesn’t adhere to what I consider to be basic travel etiquette. When you travel as much as I do, you notice a lot of 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.
At the Airport
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 important to be conscious of the space that you and your bag are taking up. Keep an eye out for other travelers as you navigate the terminal with your bag in tow.
Better 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 actually be quite pleasurable, especially with all the opportunities for shopping, dining, and lounging at major hubs these days. If you are going on vacation, you might as well start off your trip in the most relaxing way possible! You’ll enjoy the airport experience so much more if you aren’t worrying about maneuvering your giant bag through the crowds.
Read the Room
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, and the environment would have been perfectly peaceful had it not been for one couple who was loudly discussing their personal 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 about 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
Once you’ve embarked on the plane, good travel manners are even more important, since you and your fellow travelers will be in close proximity. Keeping in mind the following suggestions helps to make the flight pleasant for everyone on board.
Personal space can be pretty limited on flights, so it’s especially important to be mindful of how much space you are taking 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 over the course of the flight.
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 full volume from a kid’s iPad.
Everyone should do their part to keep the overall noise in the plane at a minimum; using your “inside voice” and keeping devices on silent really make a big difference. I also recommend bringing your own headphones on your flight, as the free earbuds that the airline offers won’t keep out the sound of the snoring person beside you. (I never travel without my noise-cancelling headphones–more on my travel essentials here.)
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 are someone who likes 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 a lot smoother. I hope these suggestions will come in handy next time you travel. If you have any other travel manners that I didn’t mention here, let me know! We all play a role in making the travel experience as pleasurable as possible, so we have to be mindful of how our behavior affects our fellow travelers. Bon voyage!