A Few Lessons in Travel Manners

I think every single person has been there. They are on the plane and some adult is just being rude. Whether they are talking loudly or they refuse to sit down during taxi and it makes everyone around them miserable. Traveling is something that should be enjoyable but often is made less than fun by those around you.

Throughout my many years of travel, I’ve developed a code of conduct that I try to adhere to. From airplanes to hostels to hotels – I have a fair amount of experience in each. Do you want to be the person that the front desk of the hotel or hostel loves or that the crew members on an airplane try to find a better seat for? Here are some ways to ingratiate yourself to those working in travel as well as your fellow travelers.

Planes

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  1. Enter your long haul flight in relative good hygiene – So obviously – some people have to travel for many, many hours on end. There’s no doubt that when you leave the flight – everyone is going to be a little less clean than when they entered.
  2. Stop with the bullshit “Manspreading” – my sister was recently on a flight from Frankfurt to DC and the person next to her was constantly invading her space. Everyone pays a lot of money for what ultimately isn’t a tremendously pleasant experience. Stop spreading out your legs or arms or shoving your feet in between seats – it’s so ridiculously rude.
  3. Keep it rated PG – maybe it’s your honeymoon. Maybe you just met someone and you are hitting it off. However, know where the line is. I think the line specifically is below the belt. It just makes everyone else uncomfortable in an already trying times. Also – watching a really racy movie in full view of minors is kind of a weird thing to do as well.
  4. Use the overhead bin appropriately – I was on a flight recently where I saw someone shove someone else’s stuff out of the way in a really aggressive way to fit their own luggage above their seat. If I only have one bag – regardless of how small it is – I want to put it above my head. I want the leg room. Now that airlines are often insisting on only having roller bags up there, there’s no need to shove, hit or damage other people’s belongings.
  5. Forgiveness is a beautiful quality – If there is literally no room for your luggage, it is not the flight attendants’ fault. Maybe you were late or everyone brought stuff. Just gate check it and try not to throw a hissy. Travel is already uncomfortable enough without having to see a grown man screaming at a service worker. I’ve seen people have meltdowns over drinks, seat space, luggage and the in flight movie not working properly. Just remember – it’s at the absolute most a few hours of your life. Try to forgive these hiccups.
  6. Follow crew member instructions – I was on a flight into Heathrow recently. We had a quick connection and more or less knew that we weren’t going to make our second flight when the plane was delayed about an hour. However, there was a chance! When we landed, the crew instructed passengers to stay seated if they didn’t have a connection. Nobody listened and everyone went ahead and stood up. We were on an active taxi-way so the plane stopped. the crew members literally had to get the pilot to say that he wouldn’t move the plane until everyone was seated again. Everyone was inconveniencing everyone. It was so irritating. Just listen to the instructions and follow them!

Hostels

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The terrace in one of my favorite hostels: Sant Jordi Gracia
  1. Be respectful of other people’s sleeping, especially at night – Hostels are generally seen as a young person’s way to travel cheap. While that assumption isn’t wrong, it is wrong to assume that every single person is going to behave like you are. Not everyone is going to go out every night. If/when you arrive late to the hostel, do not turn on all the lights. Do not talk loudly. Try to lay out things you need ahead of time so that – drunk or not – you aren’t rummaging for 20 minutes. I always put out my pajamas, toothbrush and towel so that I can grab them and go right to the bathroom where I get ready for my night.
  2. Pack your bags at a reasonable hour – It’s inevitable. You aren’t going to get a perfect nights sleep in a hostel. I have been in rooms where people spend over an hour packing their bags at 5 in the morning. That’s just obnoxious. Do it when the sun is up, preferably at night, if you have an early flight.
  3. Assume everyone wants privacy – often, when I’m traveling with a friend and we are quietly making plans or talking about something – another hostel guest will interject. For me, it’s jarring, especially if I hadn’t spoken to them in awhile. With conversations as well as personal time – it’s best to assume that people prefer their privacy. I just don’t want to talk to you when I’m in a towel because I forgot my underwear.
  4. Respect hostel rules – I actually think it’s a good thing when hostels have rules. A lot of my favorite hostels make you sign off on a relatively lengthy list. None of them are unreasonable. If they are, book a different hostel. Normally, the rules are just in place to ensure the safety, cleanliness and security of everyone at the hostel.
  5. Share common areas – Common areas are for everyone. Whether it’s the kitchen, the bathroom or the television – you aren’t the only person who needs to use it. Don’t be a dick and take over an area.
  6. If there is a free service, indulge but don’t take advantage – I always think of this one perfect hostel in Krakow, Poland and how they literally offer every free service possible. Laundry, dinner, breakfast, nights out, drinking games. I mean everything. Plus their staff was wonderful. I absolutely enjoyed all of these free services but I made sure to mention it in every review I could write. I tried to not be the person who takes more than my share.

Hotel

  1. Do not monopolize the front desk – I worked at a boutique hotel. The best part about working there was that we were able to give personalized service. However, once in awhile we would have people who thought that we were only there to help them and only them. It made our service to other guests suffer and occasionally we weren’t able to complete our other tasks. Don’t be shy about asking for help – we love talking about our city and things to do in it.
  2. Do not just expect to be given things for free – I know at our hotel, we would have people who were repeat guests who would be disappointed by their room. “We booked the same room type as the last time,” was a common refrain. We would look them up and inform them they were given a complimentary upgrade. Guests would often be shocked they didn’t get it a second time. Hotels often do their best to accommodate special occasions but we can’t always for a myriad of reasons. Instead of being upset, remember that it’s a business and we can’t always give everything away for free.
  3. If you take (steal) or break something – don’t expect it to be free. People would sometimes take the robes out of the hotel rooms that we worked at. Each robe cost about $40 retail. We would charge the guests and they would be shocked. I could roll my eyes even thinking about it. While we won’t charge someone for breaking a glass or a genuine accident – if you are drunk and belligerent and you break something big – there will absolutely be a charge.
  4. Respect the hard work of the housekeepers by not trashing your room. I’m not kidding – those poor people have seen some shit. Literally. They have dealt with every bodily fluid (gross), so maybe don’t make them pick up your used condoms out of the bible. Believe me – these things actually happen.
  5. Tip – So this is contraversial. Some people think it’s not a huge deal. There were times when I would really go out of my way to help someone – maybe I would locate their phone in a taxi they took the night before or make signs for their wedding. Those things aren’t in my job description but when people would tip – it made my day. Even just a dollar here or there is absolutely appreciated – especially if the service is great. (Hot tip: if you mention a name on Trip Advisor – often that person will get a bonus from their hotel and it doesn’t cost you anything but time).

 

So that’s my brief lesson on the most general travel manners that it’s best to adhere to. Some of it is a little tongue in cheek but most of these are actual things that I follow. Do you have any others that come to mind? Let me know in the comments section below.

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