Hi. Nice to smell you… 15 tips for being a considerate traveler.

Since I commute to another state for work, by plane, I regularly find myself in close quarters with other people.  Proximity is an amazing thing, especially as you travel.  Since I have traveled most of my life, I have always known that to be a good traveler, you must also be a considerate traveler.  After all, if *everyone* would do this, the travel experience would be so much more pleasant.  Below, I have assembled my list of the top 15 things you can do to be more considerate while you travel.  You’ll see a theme and this comes from something my Mom always tells me; “Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you.”

  1. Perfume / cologne – Here’s the rule of thumb; Women, I should have to get close enough to kiss your neck to be able to smell your potion.  If I can smell you just by sitting next to or across from you, you have too much on, in my opinion.  If I can smell you in the elevator, after you have gotten out of the elevator, that’s just rude. Men, aftershave serves a purpose; it heals the skin after we tear it to shreds with a razor.  A little aftershave is okay.  No neck kissing here; I simply don’t want to smell you at all.  As for cologne, I know, your mom keeps buying you some for Christmas, but this does not mean you have to wear gallons of it.  When in doubt, just use a little.
  2. Electronics on planes – Turn off your electronic devices when the flight attendants ask. Seriously, this hide and seek game is silly.  How old are you?  Shut it off.  These rules apply to everyone, not everyone but you.  When the FAA finally says its okay to leave them on, then we’ll all do it.
  3. Flight attendants – Stop yelling at or speaking rudely to the flight attendants, especially for things out of their control. News flash; they don’t control the weather. They don’t make the rules either.  They are there for your safety. However, If you feel they are being rude, you could and should say something, but not if they’re reacting to *your* rudeness.  Also, they’re not your personal servants.  Call them, if you must, by pressing the call button, not outburst of “Hello. Excuse me!”
  4. Be nice –  Say “please” and “thank you.”  I’m amazed as I travel how many people don’t do this. When a flight attendant hands you your beverage, say “thank you.” When the doorman holds open your door, say “thank you.”  If you need some ketchup, ask the waiter nicely and say “please.”  Is this so hard?
  5. Can you hear me now?  – When listening to music on the plane, even if you are wearing ear buds in, make sure the person next to you can’t hear your music (read, because you are playing your music too loudly.)  If you’re into loud music (I am) use noise cancelling headphones on a plane.  As I type, The Who’s “Eminence Front” is blaring, but my seat mates can’t hear it.
  6. Arm rest wrestling – Don’t be a space hog; armrests are for sharing. Take turns or something, but the wrestling for the armrest is rude. The same goes for reclining your seat; give a quick look behind you and see if someone (yes, me) is working on a laptop before you nearly crush it with a recline forceful enough to split atoms.
  7. Excuse me, can you let me out? – If you, like me, have the bladder of a tree frog (read small), but love the window seat, well, pick one; bladder or view.   View or bladder.  I don’t care either way, but I don’t want to have to get up three times in a flight because you like to look at clouds in between visits to the potty.
  8. Clean up – And speaking of the potty; clean up after yourself in restrooms, especially on a plane.  Rinse and wipe down the sink and pick up any of your random (insert anything here) that you have left behind.
  9. Kids on a plane – Parents, I’ve written a dozen posts on how to be good travelers when you are with your kids.  I have kids and they’re always on planes with me. Here’s the rule of thumb; OVER-PARENT on planes. For infants, make sure you feed them a bottle during takeoff, so their ears don’t hurt (sucking on the bottle will help) and they start screaming. For toddlers, bring entertainment; think 15 minute attention spans; one coloring book is not going to cut it. Taking your children’s shoes off will keep them from kicking the seats in front of them.  I have lots of tips. Here’s a link to my most popular post on the subject “Tips for traveling with kids.”
  10. Drunks on a plane –  Speaking of “sucking on a bottle” – don’t get hammered on a plane. That’s just rude.  Sure a beverage or two will take the edge off, but getting blotto? Yea, ah…no.
  11. Here’s a tip – To tip or not to tip? I’m an over-tipper, but the rule of thumb is don’t be a cheap skate. You should leave hotel maids a few bucks a day if they kept your room nice and clean. Taxi drivers (who drive well enough for you not to get nauseous, and keep a clean, smell-free taxi) should get 15-20%. Come on, you know the drill; just because you’re traveling does not mean you shouldn’t tip. If someone works hard to give you good service, reward them. On the other side of that coin is “if they don’t, then don’t.”  I’m all for sending a message.
  12. When in Rome – Do you travel internationally? If so, get with the (local) program. Respect the local culture and customs. Learn a few words of the language (“please” and “thank you” are always good ones) for heaven’s sake.  I recall a trip to the Greek Island of Crete where an American counterpart was upset the restaurant didn’t have Tabasco.  News flash, Greeks don’t use it.  If it’s so critical to your skewered meat, bring some with you or better, go to Morocco… just sayin’.
  13. Share – Share with your seatmates.  Are you just about to enjoy a stick of gum? A triangle of Toblerone? An Oreo? If we’re going to be sitting next to one another for a while, what better way to start our relationship off on the right foot?
  14. Feet – And speaking of feet… Dear Lord, keep your shoes on!  If we’re about to embark on a long international flight, I understand you’ll want to take your shoes off.  I take mine off.  However, give your tootsies a pre-flight powder or something.  I’m not paying thousands of dollars to smell your feet.  Same goes for open sandals. If you’re a woman with pretty, manicured odorless feet, okay.  But if you have weathered, stinky, Fred Flintstone feet, keep them covered.
  15. Don’t do it – Finally, keep your fingers out of your nose or I’m going to call you out. Period.

Have any others I should add to this list?

Happy New Year!

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About John T. Peters

Since I was a young boy, I've been in business for myself. Sure I've had 'jobs' along the way; some actually quite senior roles in major companies. My entreprenurial spirit however, keeps me going. Life's challenges however, happen in and out of the office. I'm constantly trying to improve as an executive, father, husband, brother, son and friend, all at the same time. I've determined that in everything you do, you're better off "outside the box." So, read on for Fresh Thinking. View all posts by John T. Peters

5 responses to “Hi. Nice to smell you… 15 tips for being a considerate traveler.

  • Sandra Mckenna

    Great tips John! Agree with them all … I’d add “No smelly food” like burritos which are doubly offensive if you get my drift 😉

  • weallneedvacations

    John I miss talking with you from time to time. I give you credit for keeping me alive and fed with Tripology. Good Luck with your new gig.

  • Ashley N Day

    Carry on etiquette! Don’t leave it sticking out for the flight attendant to try to fit elsewhere, don’t knowingly overpack then angrily try to cram it in while banging everyone around you, and don’t put your jackets or purses up top until everyone’s gotten their rollerboards in. I get anxiety waiting for all this to go down…every flight.

    And all the rest is on par Mr. Peters.

  • E Meyer

    Well said, John. I would add: Use your indoor voice. Other travelers have no interest in your business or further travel arrangements.

  • Traci

    I love your idea about removing your kids’ shoes if they’re prone to seat-kicking. Mine never did, but I’m in the over-parenting camp, so they never had the chance!

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