Don’t Be a Jerk When You’re Traveling
The air was suffocating. For some reason, the airplane hadn’t turned on its air conditioner as we were boarding. So as more and more people entered the narrow aisle of this small metal tube, the air around us got hot, thick, and heavy.
We were all standing in line waiting to get to our seats, but no one was moving. It was a claustrophobe’s nightmare. Holding my bags that just got heavier with each passing second, I leaned to the side to see what the hold up was.
It was one guy standing in the aisle trying to shove his oversized bag into the overhead compartment. It was clearly too big to fit going in long ways and had to be turned sideways. But there were already other bags there that were preventing that. What he really needed to do was find another compartment with more space. Or he could’ve packed a smaller bag. But he was intent on making it fit.
So there he was, holding up the entire line, trying to shove his bag in. He seemed to think that if he just pushed harder, it would magically fit. But it didn’t.
When you’re traveling, don’t be that guy.
This Summer, You’ll Probably Be Traveling
Try to make it pleasant for the people around you.
Whether you’re taking a road trip across the state or flying to another country, you’ll probably be doing some vacationing at some point this season. You’ll also encounter a fellow traveler who will make you think, “What an idiot.”
Unknowingly to you, you’ll probably do something stupid that makes someone else think the same thing about you.
Over the years of travel, I’ve noticed a few things that most people seem to do over and over again that are extremely annoying. I don’t think they’re intentionally being jerks. They just don’t know.
I used to be one of them. I didn’t know. But now I do. And now you will too.
Drive on the Right, Pass on the Left
No, you’re not fast enough to be in the fast lane.
Imagine this. You’re driving down a 2-lane highway through the middle of nowhere. There are barely any cars on the road, so you can go pretty fast. The speed limit says 70 mph. But realistically, you can probably do about 80.
You’re in the right lane and come up to a car that’s going a little slower than you. Not a big deal — people can drive at a slower speed if it makes them comfortable. So you go to pass them on the left.
Except you can’t.
Because cruising there in the left lane, aka the “fast lane” or the “passing lane,” is another car, going the SAME SPEED as the slow car.
You switch to the left lane behind the other car. But they’re keeping their same speed and not letting you pass. Maybe they’re just day dreaming and not realizing they’re blocking the fast lane. Maybe they think they’re Speed Racer and totally crushing it in the fast lane. Or maybe they’re just a jerk.
In any case, other cars catch up and start piling behind you. Suddenly, you have a slow down in traffic on what should be a relatively empty highway. All because a jerk is holding up the fast lane. Maybe that jerk has been you at some point.
So if you don’t know, here are the common rules of 2-lane highway driving. In some states, it’s actually law.
- If you’re driving, stay in the right lane. It doesn’t matter if you’re going fast or slow.
- If you come up to someone going slower than you, no worries. Put on your blinker, move to the left lane, and speed up to pass them.
- Then immediately move back into the right lane. The car you passed isn’t going to be mad at you. They’re just chilling in their lane.
- Do not stay in the left lane. I don’t care if there are no other cars in front of you or behind you. Eventually, there will be. And eventually, you’ll be the slow person blocking traffic. You are not as fast as you think. The 2 lanes aren’t there for you to pick one.
The right lane is for cruising, the left lane is for passing.
Also, if you’re driving side by side with a semi truck and not letting anyone pass, you are the worst.
Make Flying Less Horrible
We’re all stuck together for a few hours in a place we hate.
Unless you’re wealthy enough to fly first class, no one enjoys flying. When you’re crammed into tight quarters with a lot of people, the smallest nuisances are magnified into unforgivable grievances.
There are endless annoyances that people do on airplanes that make it worse for everyone. I don’t have the time to list them all out, but the top one for me is what I mentioned earlier — luggage.
We all have very little space, so don’t crowd it with your junk. Pack less, or pay the fee to check it.
Ever since airlines started charging to check luggage, everyone just packs all they have into their carryon. That’s fine, but remember you have to share the airplane space with everyone else.
Here are some things I’ve noticed with other travelers on planes, and have been guilty of myself sometimes.
- Buy luggage that’s carryon size. This should be obvious, but I’ve seen people try to bypass this with humongous “carryons” that take up the whole overhead bin.
- Don’t pack your carryon so that it’s too heavy for you to lift and you have to get a group of 3 people helping you. I don’t mind helping an elderly person lift up their luggage, but I’m also not a body builder.
- Before you board, have your overhead and personal items separated. There’s no reason for you to stand in the aisle mid-flight digging through your luggage overhead while your crotch is in my face.
- Don’t get out all your junk and setup your living room and office space in your chair. We’re talking pillows, blankets, keyboard and mice, make up kits, art supplies… a few things is fine, but be respectful of your stuff overflowing into other people’s spaces. This is especially annoying if you’re the middle or aisle seat, and we have to wait for you to pack up before we can get out and go to the restroom.
We’re all packed in a tube and miserable. So pack nicely.
Clean Up After Yourself
Don’t be so entitled that you expect others to clean up your mess.
I have a love-hate relationship with touristy cities. They’re touristy for a reason — there’s some great attraction and beauty in the city. But with tourists come trash. I hate seeing garbage lining the streets.
I remember walking through Rome, admiring all the buildings and monuments and the incredible history behind them, and yet seeing crumpled bags and cups lying everywhere on the floor.
When you’re traveling, you’re visiting someone else’s home. Don’t trash the place. You’re also ruining the experience for other visitors. It’s not the city’s job to pick up after you. Throw away your own damn trash, and if there’s no trash can to put it in, hold onto it until you find one.
Let’s also talk about hotel rooms.
I’ve stayed in rooms with friends and family where they trash the place. Garbage is left on tables, beds, and floors. Towels are lying around everywhere. Furniture and appliances are moved and not put back.
Now I know what you’re thinking.. I paid for this room, and that includes people to clean it up for me. It’s their job.
True, it is their job to clean up your room, but you don’t have to make it harder for them. You could drop all your napkins on the floor at a restaurant, and it’s their job to pick it up for you. But you don’t want to be an asshole, so you kindly put the napkins on your plate.
Housekeeping at hotels have thankless jobs. Their work involves intensive physical labor, exposure to chemicals, dealing with some pretty disgusting stuff from guests, and often work on a quota of rooms to clean. By doing just some basic tidying up, you can help make their jobs a little easier.
Before you leave each day:
- Put all your trash in the trash cans, and all in one can at the front if possible.
- Make your beds. They don’t have to be perfect. Just put the pillows at the top and lay your blanket flat.
- Use towels more than once and hang them up. If you need towels replaced, put them in a single pile by the front.
- Don’t leave stuff lying on the floor for people to trip over.
- Try be somewhat tidy with your personal belongings so there isn’t confusion about what is trash and what isn’t.
- If you spill something, just wipe it up.
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can turn your hotel room into a college dorm room.
Traveling is an incredible experience, but people can make it horrible for other travelers and the people that serve them. These are just a few of my pet peeves that I’ve noticed almost every time I travel.
What are yours?