October 31, 2023 | Allison Robertson

Travel Etiquette 101: How Not to Annoy Fellow Travelers


Travel Etiquette 101: Stop Annoying Fellow Travelers

Airplane passengers and older woman annoyed split image

Ah, travel! It's the gateway to new experiences, cultures, and perspectives. But while it can be a thrilling adventure, it can also bring its fair share of annoyances—especially when fellow travelers forget their manners.

From planes to trains and from hostels to hotels, there are certain unspoken rules that everyone should follow. To ensure everyone's journey remains pleasant, here's a look at the top travel etiquette faux pas and how to avoid them.

Loud Conversations

Young attractive businessman on plane talking on phonenicepix, Shutterstock

It's natural to chat with your travel companion or make a quick call. But when voices reach a decibel level rivalling a rock concert, it's a problem. Not everyone needs or wants to know about your aunt's casserole or the hilarious thing your pet did last week.

Over 65% of travelers surveyed claim that loud conversations are their biggest pet peeve. It's essential to be mindful of your volume, especially in confined spaces like planes or trains.

Use headphones for multimedia and keep conversations at a low, respectful volume.

Taking Too Much Time at Security Checkpoints

The Kindest “Pay It Forward” GesturesFlickr, dennis crowley

Security is vital, but being unprepared can slow down the process for everyone. Over half of airport-goers get frustrated by those who aren't ready to go through security.

Always have your documents ready and your belongings prepared for screening.

Queue Jumping

Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

We've all been there. Eager to board, disembark, or simply buy a ticket, and someone decides their time is more important than everyone else's. But studies show that queue jumpers not only annoy fellow travelers but actually slow down the process for everyone.

A report by Expedia found that 21% of travelers identified "line-cutters" as the most aggravating fellow tourists.

Respect the queue—it ensures everyone gets their turn efficiently.

Reclining Seats in Tight Spaces

Airplane passengers relaxCandyBox Images, Shutterstock

Yes, that airplane seat reclines. But should you do it?

Many travelers, particularly those on budget airlines with limited legroom, have found themselves squashed by the person in front leaning back.

A Skyscanner survey revealed that 91% of travelers want reclining seats banned or restricted to set times during flights.

And with 53% of airline passengers expressing discomfort due to reclined seats, it's courteous to check with the person behind you before you lean back, especially during meals.

Not Respecting Personal Space

Unexplainable glitchUnsplash

Travel often means sharing tight spaces. Whether it's on public transport or in a busy tourist spot, it's essential to be aware of others around you. Overcrowding or bumping into others without apologizing can make the environment uncomfortable for everyone.

Always be conscious of personal boundaries, and if you accidentally encroach upon someone else's space, a simple apology goes a long way.

Hogging Armrests

Relationship issuesUnsplash

Similar to the last point about respecting personal space, the battle for the armrest, especially in tight airplane seating, can be a silent war.

Expedia’s survey discovered that “seatback kickers” and “armrest hogs” rank among the top in-flight annoyances.

Remember, sharing is caring; it's always a good idea to alternate use or simply communicate with your seatmate to find a comfortable arrangement for both.

Playing Music or Videos Without Headphones

Glitch In The MatrixShutterstock

Sharing a personal music playlist or video with the entire train car or beach is rarely appreciated. In a recent survey, 78% of respondents said that other travelers playing music or videos without headphones was their top travel annoyance.

It's simple: always pack a pair of headphones and ensure your media doesn't disturb others.

Oversized Luggage in Overhead Bins

man putting luggage on airplaneMila Supinskaya Glashchenko, Shutterstock

Air travel is stressful enough without the overhead bin wars. Space in overhead bins on flights is limited. Stuffing oversized luggage or multiple bags in the bin not only irritates fellow passengers but can delay the boarding process.

The Air Transport World reported increasing disputes over cabin luggage space in recent years.

Always check your airline's baggage dimensions and respect the limits and consider the needs of other passengers.

Blocking the Airplane Aisle

The Craziest Thing That Ever Happened To MeFlickr, Matthew Hurst

Time is of the essence, especially when boarding or disembarking a plane. Spending too much time storing your luggage or settling in can cause delays and irritate fellow travelers. 

Always be quick and efficient when navigating the airplane aisle.

Using the Seat as a Footrest

Entitled flight passengersShutterstock

Your seat is not a footrest, and your fellow travelers aren't keen on seeing (or smelling) your feet. Nearly 70% of travelers have expressed disdain for passengers who prop their feet up. It's vital to respect shared spaces and keep your feet grounded.

Overindulging in Alcohol

Pilot Mistakes FactsShutterstock

It's okay to have a drink or two, but moderation is key. Nobody appreciates a rowdy, drunken traveler. In fact, 62% of surveyed travelers said that drunk passengers were a significant concern.

Always drink responsibly and be considerate of those around you.

Not Monitoring Kids

Entitled flight passengersShutterstock

Traveling with kids can be challenging, but it's essential to ensure they're not disturbing other travelers. From kicking the back of seats to loud outbursts, unruly children rank high on the travel annoyance list.

A survey by Airfarewatchdog found that 39% of respondents felt parents not controlling their kids was the most annoying in-flight behavior.

Always keep an eye on your little ones and ensure they're respectful of their surroundings. Parents should bring activities or devices (with headphones) to keep children entertained and consider the comfort of fellow passengers.

Making Excessive Noise in Hotels

Scariest Things They've Woken Up To factsPixabay

Hotels are shared spaces, and making excessive noise during odd hours disrupts others' rest. A Hotels.com survey revealed that 74% of global travelers have been annoyed by noisy neighbors.

Always be aware of the noise level and adhere to quiet hours to ensure everyone gets a peaceful night's sleep.

Ignoring Cultural Norms

City streets in Bangkok, Thailandtampatra, Adobe Stock

Travel means immersing yourself in new cultures. Every culture has its customs and taboos. With 45% of travelers stressing the importance of respecting local customs, it's crucial to research and be aware of the do's and don'ts of your destination.

For example, 68% of Thai respondents in an Agoda survey felt that tourists often inadvertently disrespect local customs.

Whether it's dress code, tipping practices, or local customs, always make an effort to blend in and respect the local way of life.

Blocking Paths for Photos

Woman taking photos at Fjords, NorwayIlja, Adobe Stock

While capturing memories is essential, blocking pathways, especially at popular tourist spots, is a major inconvenience.

A 2019 study revealed that 42% of tourists found this behavior annoying. It's always best to be quick, considerate, or simply step aside to let others pass.

Oversharing on Social Media

Italian History FactsShutterstock

It's natural to share travel experiences, but bombarding friends with constant updates can be overbearing.

According to a study by Allianz Global Assistance, 36% of respondents felt annoyed by social media over sharers. The key is moderation and ensuring you're living in the moment rather than just for online applause.

Not Tipping Appropriately

Terrible Customer ServiceShutterstock

Tipping can be a complex and culturally-dependent practice, but it's essential to get it right. In places where tipping is customary, failing to leave an appropriate amount can be seen as disrespectful and can significantly impact the income of service workers.

A survey found that 34% of travelers feel uncomfortable and uncertain about tipping practices in foreign countries, leading to potential under-tipping.

Before traveling, research the tipping customs of your destination. Ensure you're tipping correctly for services like dining, accommodations, and tours.

Final Thoughts

travel agent meeting with coupleVadimGuzhva, Adobe Stock

Traveling is a privilege and an exciting adventure. By being considerate of others and practicing good travel etiquette, we can ensure that everyone's journey is as pleasant as possible. 

Remember, a little consideration goes a long way, and your fellow travelers will thank you for it.


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