Culture / Travel

Social in Security — Need-to-Know Etiquette for Traveling Today

From What to Wear to Middle Seat Courtesies

BY Heather Wiese Alexander // 09.15.21

In her recurring column, “Social in Security,” modern etiquette ambassador Heather Wiese Alexander walks us through a list of travel tips you can rely on. Because there may be nothing more comforting than coming prepared.

Travel etiquette has become a hot topic. Whether you’re itching to get away or reluctantly headed to your next obligation, travel has become just a bit more stressful for some. I have yet to encounter a person who can’t relate to this subject. The cliché could not be more accurate: we’re in this together. Here’s how to be a good traveler. Trust me, it will take you far—happily.

First, with tempers flaring, pack some extra patience. Adjust expectations and arrive a few minutes earlier than your normal routine. It will seriously make all the difference. I tend to be a busy, last-minute traveler, which means getting to the airport the suggested hour or two early is not a happy place for me. That said, building an extra 20 minutes into my travel routine has been both a trip-saver and an anxiety-reducer. I speak from experience—it’s much easier to be patient and kind when you’ve taken care of yourself first. Also, if it’s in the budget, an investment in Clear and TSA-Pre are well worth the time and money.

My list of new travel-tweaks:

  • Leave 20-30 min earlier.
  • Have an extra mask on hand.
  • Have my vaccination card next to my ID.
  • Take three big, deep breaths before I put the mask on that’s not coming off for several long hours.

To form a set of travel tips you can rely on, it has taken an education in the ongoing trends combined with research into etiquette that exists in the world of transit—especially internationally. If you have a question, I always love to give you a well-researched, reliable answer. Ask away. Buon viaggio!

 

LEAN BACK

Yes, you can recline. While it is your right, take is slowly and politely. I’m not recommending you ask permission, but a polite second of eye contact and a warm smile can say, “I know you’re there and I’m being careful.”

 

TIGHT SQUEEZE 

According to the experts, the middle seat gets both arm rests. It’s their only luxury, don’t deny them this little win.

 

WAIT YOUR TURN 

You most certainly are a special snowflake—only, not when queuing. Remember status covers a whole group of people. Wait patiently behind those ahead of you in your same boarding group status. If you need to pass someone of lower airline status, be polite. (That just means be a little nicer than you have to.)

 

RISE TO THE OCCASION 

Stand up to let someone in or out of your row. No ifs, ands, or rear ends in your face.

 

GO WITH THE FLOW—OR MOVE OVER 

Walk left. Stand Right. Especially pay attention to corridors, escalators, and moving sidewalks.

 

PRIVATE MATTERS 

Maintain your beauty regimens and certainly all forms of hygiene in a bathroom. They are everywhere. Use them.

 

DRESS FOR SUCCESS 

Sure, travel comfortably. However, travel etiquette isn’t about a mass-standard. While I love my athleisure wear as much as the next girl, wearing full workout gear on board is a no-go for the informed jet setter. Leggings and a hygge sweater? We won’t fault you.

 

MANAGE YOUR SPACE 

Keep trash, limbs, and bags confined to your purchased area and not spilling over into common spaces.

 

THE MASK

It’s there to catch your coughs and sneezes—don’t move it out of the way when the urge arises. Only take it off inside when you’re actively eating or drinking.

 

THE LOO

Wipe the drips from the basin and put the seat down before you leave.

 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST—GRATITUDE

Thank the attendants and pilots as you de-plane. This tradition is an oldy and a goodie. Don’t let the opportunity slip by without a quick word of thanks.

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - Social in Security

Connecting the inspired with the extraordinary

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