Summer is coming. And that means (1) warm weather, (2) BBQs, (3) sunsets past 9 PM, and my favorite, (4) vacation.
Now that the weather is breaking to reveal warmer, less cloudy days, you might find yourself thinking about an upcoming vacation (like I am) or your dream trip…sunny weather, sandy beaches, the sound of waves hitting the shoreline, or perhaps the rigors of an unpaved trail meandering up a mountaintop.
Whatever your style, I know that I can already feel the relaxation wash over me as I dream of my upcoming vacation. But don’t let this daydreaming get the best of you, tempting as it might be.
I am all for relaxation and enjoying the moment, but when you travel you have to be real. You can’t just throw things out like cultural respect, social necessities, simply because you happen to be on vacation.
While you might be on vacation from your everyday life, you’re not on vacation from being a human. Make every moment count, of course, but make every interaction count too. Your trip will be better for it, as will the memories you make.
Whether your upcoming travel is your first official trip, a visit to a seasoned vacation spot, or a new adventure, make sure to become aware of travel protocol before your journey.
Here are some important, basic travel etiquette tips to keep in mind before you go:
- Just because you’re late doesn’t mean you get to cut the security line at the airport. It’s long. I get it. It takes forever. I get it. And you’re late. I get that too. Been there, done that. But other people around you are waiting too. They’re waiting to get through the tedious security line, just like you, and they may also be running late to their flight or connection. A line means that there are people who arrived before you up ahead and people who arrived later at the rear. Take your place in line next to other waiting travelers and don’t tempt yourself to slip past a family dealing with their figgity, screaming child just because you can. If you are in a real-time crunch and the last call for your flight boarding has been announced, then by all means ask others if they wouldn’t mind if you moved ahead of them in line. Ask first. Act second.
- Please don’t take someone else’s seat on a plane and just assume they’ll be OK with it. If you would like to switch with someone so that you can sit with your traveling companion, just ask before sitting down in their seat. Remember: ask first; act second. Don’t assume that you’re the one providing a “favor” because you’re “giving” them an aisle, window, or middle seat. They likely picked their seat for a reason, so don’t be the one who ruins their trip before it even starts by making assumptions. Sit where your ticket says, and if you want to make a change, just ask nicely with a simple “please” at the end of your inquiry.
- When you’re at your vacation accommodation, don’t slam the room door behind you. You never know what people are up to. They might be sleeping, enjoying a meal, trying to calm their child down, or just trying to relax in peace. I understand–you’re leaving your room without a care in the world to enjoy a nice, hot gourmet buffet breakfast or a stunning view of the hotel’s white sand beach. But don’t leave your etiquette hat in your room as you shut the door behind you. Become aware of your surroundings and remember that it’s not just you at the hotel, apartment, B&B, etc. There are others around you trying to enjoy their time away from work just like you. Put yourself in their shoes, and shut that door with a whispery click instead of a bam.
- As you experience your destination, be sure to embrace the culture you are entering. Whether you’re flying to Japan, Italy, Mexico, or even just driving to a local lake spot, each location has its own specific culture. While this culture might be very different from your own, that doesn’t make it bad. It makes it interesting. And it’s an opportunity to learn more about the people who live there. Why travel miles and miles away just to do things like you’ve always done them back home? There’s no point to traveling then. And so, here are a couple of ways you can embrace your destination’s culture in a respectful fashion: (1) learn a few words in the native language or local dialect, and (2) understand basic greeting customs, whether that means eye contact vs. no eye contact or single cheek kiss vs. double cheek kiss. If you need some help learning local customs or words, do a little online research or just ask a local–many would be happy to assist you in your quest to be a respectful guest.
While the list above isn’t comprehensive, it is a place to start in your travel etiquette learning journey. There are plenty of little protocol tips you can easily gather from the internet, but a lot of the important etiquette you’ll need must be learned as it’s culturally-based. Do your etiquette research beforehand to prepare yourself for a unique, unforgettable vacation experience rooted in respect, compassion, and kindness.
Wishing you safe travels,