The Travelers’ Code
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.