Travel Etiquette Everyone Should Know

While traveling, or using any public transportation for that matter, there are a few unspoken rules that everyone should follow. If you are traveling for the first time, or haven’t traveled in a while, you might not know the etiquette. Taking some time to understand the do’s and dont’s of air travel etiquette can improve your experience and the experience of those around you. From stinky feet to elbows in my ribs, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it all! Thats why I decided to compile this list of 10 travel etiquette rules!

Below are some tips to stop you from becoming “that guy.”

1. Keep sounds and smells to a minimum. Once, on a very late flight, the couple behind us was watching super loud Snapchat videos and laughing their heads off. I think our entire section of the plane was ready to throw some punches. Use headphones whenever you can. Shower before hand and wear fresh clothes to keep body odors to a minimum. Also, try to not douse yourself in perfume beforehand. What might smell nice to you, could cause an allergic reaction in someone else. Speaking of smells…..

2. Do not take your shoes off. On my last 8 hour flight, I thought I might die because the man behind us took his shoes off. If the thought of someone’s bare feet around me wasn’t enough to gross me out, the disgusting smell emanating from him was! Please never take your shoes off in public. Even if you are wearing sandals, there is still something weird about bare feet walking around an airplane.

3. Respect space. Try not to take up more space than necessary. This is especially true for the boarding area in an airport. There are a limited number of seats and your bag doesn’t need one. Make sure your bag isn’t encroaching on other people’s allotted space under the seat in front of them. Allow the middle seat to have the arm rest. In general, just give people space and you will be their favorite neighbor.

4. Food. Keep travel foods to something without a strong odor or mess. Someone on one of my flights thought onion pizza was a good idea. It was not a good idea. Usually people are in tight quarters while traveling and its not enjoyable being next to someone scarfing down their 5 Guys burger dripping grease everywhere!

5. Dress appropriately for security checks. Unless you have TSA Precheck, you will have to take your shoes off. Wearing lace-up gladiator sandals that take 15 minute to remove will most definitely hold up the line and leave you feeling rushed and stressed! Also, make sure you look up the TSA rules and have everything ready when its your turn. Laptop out of the bag, liquids in the proper containers, etc. Afterwards, grab your stuff and move to a nearby bench to reassemble.

6. Recline with care. Some people think it’s rude to even use the recline feature on your chair. I think it’s perfectly fine as long as you do so carefully. Check back to make sure the person behind you is not using the tray before you recline or give them a warning so their drink doesn’t spill. I try to be sneaky and immediately recline before they get the chance to even realize that I did it!

7. Corral the kiddos. I don’t have children, but I still try to respect the fact that sometimes you really just can’t control them. At least show that you are trying and the gesture will go a long way! I once was woken up during a long flight by a little girl crawling over me to get to her mother. Her mom thought it was cute and laughed! Allowing your child to wander around the plane or constantly grab onto the seat in front of them is not cool!

8. Get up at convenient times. If you are in an inside seat, try to get up when the aisle seat passenger gets up. That way, you wont be disturbing other people when you realize you need to use the restroom 20 minutes later. Also, keep an eye out for when the airline attendants are passing out food or drinks. You dont want to get trapped by the cart! Remember to use the arm rests to push yourself up out of your seat instead of grabbing onto the seat in front of you.

9. Pay attention to your sleeping position. I highly recommend buying this pillow if you think you might need to sleep while traveling. My husband has told me (hilarious) horror stories of when people next to him have literally fallen asleep on him!

10. Respect the order of boarding and deplaning. We’ve all seen the person try to sneak in before their actual boarding group has been called. If you they are unsuccessful, they cause a hold-up when the staff member has to turn them around. If they are successful, they have just annoyed everyone who was patiently waiting their turn. This holds true for after landing as well. You should always let the people in front of you out first. Offer for the people across from you to go out first as well if you are feeling extra nice!


Do you have any traveling horror stories? What else would you add to this list? Comment or send me a message and let me know!

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  1. Speaking of #6, I witnessed someone’s laptop get crushed when the seat in front of them reclined without checking. They were using the tray and the angles didn’t work out when the seat tilted. Snapped the hinge. Person next to me, PISSED! Person in front, “well you shouldn’t have had it sitting there.” Just a little tension the rest of the flight… Check to see if they’re doing anything there and even ask! Or let them know otherwise that you’d like to recline.

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