The Travelers’ Code

Thursday, 27 February 2014 | Tags: , , , ,

Air travel for the masses has become nothing other than undignified. Given the close proximity we're thrust into with the security line ups, pat downs and on the plane itself, it is an oddly intimate experience that too few people realize is happening with a bunch of complete strangers. It's like everyone has forgotten we're in a public place. Hellooo.....we all see, hear and smell everything you're doing!

On a recent flight from Miami I was watching the latest Downton Abbey episodes and as Robert prepared for a trip to America with his “valet”, I was struck by just how far we’ve fallen in our dress, decorum and respect for one anothers’ personal space.

So I have developed a Travelers’ Code.  For your next flight, bus ride, train trip or boat voyage please remember the following:

Dress accordingly.  Wear a shirt/sweater/jacket/coat that is long enough to cover your backside when you bend over.  You will be bending over (and reaching up) a lot and hence revealing your lower back.  Except for a very few rare exceptions, the rest of us don’t want to see your butt crack, tattoo, stretch marks or underwear.

Overly tight clothing is also unacceptable (and I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to wear it to travel in the first place).  Again, we are in cramped quarters together, which means the information you are giving away with your tighty tight pants or spray-painted on top is magnified to all around you.

Give extra care to personal hygiene.  Bathe.  Carry breath mints or better yet a toothbrush and use it. Many hours of travel equals stale breath and even if you aren’t speaking to the person next to you, they can smell it.  Drink lots of water as that helps curb bad breath.  Wear extra deodorant and do not wear perfume or cologne.  Do not blow your nose or clip your nails while in close proximity to others.  And stop farting! If you’re having an issue go to the bathroom and stay there until you’ve dealt with it. 

Plan your on-board meal.  The best seat mates consume nothing other than water (see above).  But I admit that’s not realistic.  Nowadays a lot of people bring their own food on board, myself included.  Please consider this choice carefully.  Overly stinky, messy or noisy meals are an intrusion on the personal space of those around you.  So avoid curry dishes, meals with lots of sauce or takeout in big boxes with extra wrapping.    Sushi is an excellent choice because it has no smell and is easy to eat neatly.  A small sandwich or wrap is also acceptable.

Don’t be a space hog.   It might mean you will need to, horrors, check a bag.  Carrying a backpack? Take it off when in a lineup or on board.  (At the airport yesterday I actually told a woman her backpack budded in line.) When it comes to arm rests, the person in the middle gets both (because they’re stuck in the middle).  If you’re in a row of two, you will need to take turns on the inside arm rest.

Be quick through security.  Leave the change in your pockets at home, avoid wearing a belt (will your pants really fall down? Pack it.), minimize jewelry and wear slip on shoes.  Learn which items need to be separated in or added to your security bin rather than wait for instructions (computer, liquids, your jacket, shoes, items with metal). Once you’re through, clear the area for others.  Please practice this at home.

I wasn’t around to experience commercial travel during the post WWI Downton Abbey era, but I’m quite certain no one was exposing his butt crack when he moved through security.  But then again, there was no security in those days.  Or airplanes.  My how times have changed.
Please feel free to add to my Code and let’s share it with travelers everywhere.



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  • Jim

    My personal rules include:

    – Know where your passport is all the time.
    – carry some cash all the time – at least $ 20 just in case.
    – Charge your cell phone before you get on the flight
    – carry a pen in your carryon for customs forms
    – Be aware of what’s happening around you

    • Riddlemethis

      My personal rule is never fly cheap no frills airlines like Allegiant Air.

  • mike simpson

    Awesome you bring attention to this , I’ve had instances where I might be guilty of one , or if not more of these things you may find offensive .
    So as a courtesy maybe you”ll let me explain our (or at least my) situation .
    1- Some people travel for work (Yes no shit you do too) . and our itineraries are dictated by the people we’re working for . It’s a dynamic in my field . And if mobilized for a week , I’ve learned , It could be hours .
    2- People that travel to god awful places , doing the work of (well none) many , It’s at my predisposition to dress , taken from where I’m at ,and relative customs , to immediately, (whatever exotic location enter here) apply knowledge , support , mitigation’s, or general wherefore all necessary to complete ones assignment .Wash , rinse , repeat .
    I’m clean dude ! , smell of neutral nothing , It’s a common courtesy relative to the one you might not see , traveling to said whatever de regaurd you might find fascinating . I work the periphery . I do that well .
    3- If you get your self in trouble , Wait , I have wheezing , sneezing dogs that can find you within minutes . We smell mostly shit , but every once and awhile , a highly opinionated , high maintenance , malcontent is appreciated . We’ll make smore’s . .
    We’ll make you smore’s .

  • Riddlemethis

    What does “her backpack budded in line” mean? How did the lady handle that comment? It’s not only backpack but carryons packed to the max. Many often do this deliberately so they can get their carryon checked in for free. Another pet peeve I found is people who bring their jackets and take up lots of space in the overhead compartments and have a hissy fit when you move it or crumple it up to get your carryon inside the compartment. Flight attendants should carry tasers.

  • Al Brucks

    Be aware that the person sitting in front of you can feel it when you kick their seat, or pull on their seat when you get up. Once or twice is ok, but when it gets done over and over it gets very annoying!

    • Christina Miller

      Esp if its a Child they will kick constantly and many times the parent tunes it completely out! I have Traveled with my kids and Grandkids since they were babies and children will be respectful on Planes if you teach them! We have taught the children Airline etiquette all their lives just like any other life skill. Please keep in mind that we don’t always know why someone is flying many times grieving families are on the plane and all etiquette goes out the window!! My daughters husband passed suddenly in a car accident right after the birth of their first child and my daughter had to take a flight out of town not long after and her son who was still a new baby started crying and my daughter in her 20’s couldn’t soothe him .. people can be cruel when a baby cries but my daughter had Just buried her 27 year old husband and was soo broken she started crying! a lovely Man probably a Grandfather asked my daughter who was alone with her baby if he could help her and my daughter said yes, this wonderful Man held and rocked my grandson to sleep for the rest of the flight and I thank God for him! I’m sure my Grandson could feel that his new Mommy was scared and upset too, and all it took was a kind soul seeing a young Mommy in need to offer to help and not stare and judge her like most were, now I don’t advocate strangers ever holding your child but this man was on the end aisle like my Daughter she could see everything and he couldn’t go anywhere. just to add another thought regarding flight etiquette, you never know why someone is flying? you may be off to the tropics and they may have just lost a loved one! just please don’t be so quick to judge what you don’t understand.

      • Al Brucks

        My comment was more for adults than children. Children aren’t always aware that their behaviour affects others but if the parents don’t at least make an effort to keep them calm, or if they encourage bad behaviour I view it as rudeness. Babies cry, everyone knows it and often there isn’t much that can be done about it, it’s the attitude of the parents that can be either annoying, or elicit sympathy. The woman in the story was obviously distressed and the man was kind enough to help her, but if her child had been a few years older and had been running up and down the aisle screaming and if the woman just laughed about it, it would be different. You’re right about not knowing the situation of other passengers but at the risk of sounding callous, their situation doesn’t give them carte blanche over the other passengers’ comfort. Do I sound like a hardass? I’m not! I understand that everyone has different comfort levels and it’s better just to observe and enjoy than get all worked up about it!