We’d all like to think ourselves as experienced travellers who know how to plan for the next big trip. However, have you ever stopped to wonder how travel-savvy you really are? Could you have been committing any travel faux pas without realising?
Here’s a run down of our top tips for travel etiquette in the modern world.
1. Be prepared with your paperwork
There is nothing worse than waiting for what seems like forever in a queue at the airport, train station, ferry terminal, you name it, and being held up because an airhead up front suddenly can’t find their ticket.
Having easy access to all relevant documentation, from your landing card, to your boarding pass and passport is crucial for smooth passage through an already stressful environment. If you see a handy sign asking you to have papers ready, whip them out and have them ready to go.
This is especially critical if you are transferring flights, and the rest of the people in the queue are just as tired as you are.
2. Be ready for security
In the spirit of not ticking off the rest of the queue, and making your own journey all the more smoother, envisage the security checkpoint at the airport before you leave the hotel.
You know there is a chance that if you wear big, clunky shoes, you can be asked to remove them, so pick something easy to slide off when the time comes, just in case. Avoid wearing a belt, as you may be asked to remove this too. And while that beanie or Panama hat makes you look cool, you guessed it, it’s a no-no heading through security.
If you are taking any liquids in your hand luggage, make sure it is in the correct size and sealed in a clear plastic bag. Removing this bag or at least having easy access to it when it’s your turn can make life simpler. Leave that drink bottle empty and fill it up on the plane instead – you’ll only be asked to get rid of the contents otherwise.
3. Consider your fellow passengers’ noses
Whether it’s a bus in Bangkok or a crammed flight to Hong Kong, being stuck in a confined space with someone whose body odour is less than pleasant can be a living nightmare. To make sure this isn’t you, do the right thing and take a shower beforehand. If this isn’t possible, deodorant, a breath mint and maybe even a spritz of perfumer or cologne can help to avoid the dreaded eau de longhaul.
4. Know your arm rest protocol
There aren’t many people who would opt for the middle seat voluntarily on a plane, so when you see the poor soul stuck between you and the aisle or the window, remember these simple etiquette guidelines.
The unspoken rule of the middle is that the person seated there gets to have the arm rests on either side. Aisle seat gets the extra legroom, not to mention unimpeded access to the bathroom, while window seat can curl up against the side of the plane, so it’s only fair middle gets a little respite by propping their elbows up.
5. To recline, or not to recline
Ah, that old chestnut. Consideration is key here, as while you will rarely hear a fellow passenger voice a complaint at you reclining your seat, you can bet they’ll have a strong mental dialogue going on if you do it the wrong way.
Think of how you’d like someone to recline their seat in front of you. Obviously not during mealtimes – nobody likes to be trapped with a tray table in the gut.
Another common argument is that seats shouldn’t be reclined until the lights go down, and more people are likely to try sleep and recline themselves. If you are going to recline outside of these times, the key is to be gentle (no seat slamming) and incremental.