Our Ultimate Guide to International and Local Travel and Vacation Etiquette in 9 Simple Steps!
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That is my seat she hissed at our little gal…
Sorry? What was that? I looked down with my hold all halfway to the Overhead bin! I carried on put the bag in its space and then moved across the isle to an empty seat…Apologizing profusely as I went…But wait a minute! This is a coach/bus and there are no allocated seats. Immediately the word travel or vacation etiquette popped into my mind…We were headed to our vacation and obviously so was this lady, Off the plane onto a coach to our hotel…
This was a not so cool memory that came to mind when a friend called to share her travel nightmare…
I wasn’t one to pick a fight but this woman had hissed at my little one for no reason other than to lord it over her. I mean there were lots of free seats around us on the coach. After an 8 hr flight not counting the transit time and early wake up to the airport. My daughter was asking why I had moved her from the window seat? I stood up and asked the lady whether she had a specific piece of paper allocating her that seat on the coach. And she grumpily responded that little children should give up their seats to adults, what kind of child was I bringing up! Now normally I would agree with that sentiment…But keeping in mind the bus had lots of empty seats. She had chosen to blatantly lie about non-existent seat allocation to a tired little girl just so she could seat by a window. The idea of “racism” popped into my mind and I quickly brushed it aside…
Have you ever faced such a situation? Well my friend had a belly full…So today from years of experience and my own research as a seasoned traveller, I am gonna share some vacation etiquette so you may know how to deal with similar or other situations. Not forgetting the great travel habits to engender, so let’s get to it…
Don’t go Beach or Street walking on your own in the dark…personal safety first
Vacation Etiquette #1 Do your Research…
I know you are excited about the trip you are taking…even if it’s a road trip you are heading to a whole different place. So do your research on the location you are heading to. What the locals do, what are their cultures, traditions, what do they frown upon…You would be surprised that even in UK We have The Northerners, The Scots, Welsh, Irish, English cultures and within these different regional cultures too. Knowing the right travel and destination etiquette can go a long way on making your vacation much more fun. Stepping over someone’s stretched legs in Uganda is frowned upon, and I believe in Nepal too. Don’t hold hands in Dubai in public not even with your hubby and don’t drink in non-licensed places. Don’t get amorous in public either…
Etiquette, customs, rules, do vary from country to country, so make sure to do your research before you leave your home, or jail time could be the least of your worries!
Vacation Etiquette #2 Respect At the Root of everything!
Treat others the way you would like to be treated…With respect and understanding at the very least. You don’t know their story or what they have been through in the past few hours or days before your journey crossed on that vacation, vehicle or event. I am not saying tolerate rude people, absolutely not. But don’t rise to their bait either…nor should you get into a word fight…Or worse still fisticuffs. You may be asked to leave the space…or worst case scenario end up in a foreign police cell…It’s a vacation remember. Time to relax and let some things pass! Pick your battles …!
If you are on a plane, put your luggage in your own overhead bin, don’t shove trash in the airsick bag its simply dirty, don’t recline your seat abruptly, you could bang someone’d head. And please don’t take your socks off. Your feet may have a wee whiff. And have you been to a dirty plane lavatory…OMG lots of people treat this space like it’s a dirty space Treat it like your own one at home. Leave it as clean as you would like to find it!
Yes I know it’s your honeymoon and you want that first wee one in 9 months flat…But must you have it all day and all night. Screaming like you are being strangled…with the thin walls separating you and a family next door. With little ones…! Must you dump your used rubbers down the loo? Why use the towels to clean your dirty shoes after a trek? All things tourists do, and worse…! After all they pay for the cleaning service! This is something a hotel owner shared with me and I cringed! Why treat the hotel any less than you would treat your home? Those workers are someone’s mom, dad, nana, brother, sister etc! What if it were you…
It goes without saying that you must respect the staff and service providers. Some people adopt airs and attitudes on vacation, making ridiculous demands to be waited on hand and foot. This behaviour your children pick up on and they take it to a whole new level esp. when they get back home, then you have a problem to sort lol…Lead by example and respect the staff and other people’s space. In other words…Pack your manners in your hand luggage very close to you on your vacation!
Travel etiquette #3 Be Generous…
Yes this is a controversial one that we have had a chat on a trip once. My son asked; mom do you get a tip when you do your tutorials? No I said. So why do you have to give tips when we go on vacations? Hmmm I had to think that one through so here is my take on it. These people serve us and make our vacation or trip so much more fun. They do the things we would normally do our selves back home like; cleaning, washing up, cooking, putting away, entertaining us, laundry, picking and dropping us for very little pay…Its only of good and generous cheer to say thank you in a way they would really appreciate, thus the tip.
He seemed to agree with me…what do you think? And on that note here’s what we have come to learn & our rule of thumb on tipping:
- Taxi or Coach driver if they are helpful and get your bags stowed away and off at destination, give you a bit of a commentary as they drive you, are courteous to you and help you out of the car – Tip $1 for more than 3 bags if you got just 3 bags then a fiver is okay! If you just have a hold all well carry it yourself!
- Valet or Bellboy – $1 per bag a lil more if they have to lug the bags up a staircase.
- Housekeeping staff – $1/per person per day with a Lil Thank you note. Make use of that Hotel Pen & Notepad! Some people simply take it home…tut tut! Do this daily as opposed to the last day and you will have the cleanest room, extra goodies and better service from other staff…word spreads!
- Waiters and Kitchen Staff 10-15% of bill, this is irrespective of food quality. Base this on the speed of service, attitude e.g. with a smile, response to your queries or requests & cleanliness of the food space. Check that it’s not already added as a service charge!
Vacation Etiquette #4 Dress for the occasion
I bet you think am talking party…that too. But let’s talk vacation outfits…some people take this as an opportunity to flaunt laws of the countries they visit. Trust me you must cover up while in the Emirates or end up in jail…Dress for the occasion, culture tradition and weather lolol. Put some thought into your outfit. I always tell my kids that
“Even though we are on vacation, let’s dress for the environment.”
Go change before you dine, flip flops and a swimsuit just aren’t right for the dinning space. Remember those photos? You want to look your best as well. 🙂 Don’t be that man or woman attracting attention for all the wrong reasons due to the wrong outfit. Respect other vacationers or beach, event users too. So unless it’s a nude beach, keep it covered. I will never forget the lady that photo bombed my beach photo…Sans Bra…! I didn’t know where to look! My rule of thumb is to dress as much like the locals. That way I blend in and guess what I wont be over charged in the local market…tourists tend to stand out an dare over charged by the local vendors!
Vacation Etiquette #5 Let’s talk About those photos
We all want the photo memories, heck we wanna show off a lil to our friends or family that aren’t with us. In fact in our travel club we have a “ You should be here sign.” Mind you allegedly feet selfies are not cool lolol, but I love this image so it passes the test 🙂
Anyhoo…learn where you are and observe the rules. For instance in the Rome Sistine chapel you cannot take photos. There are lots of other places of natural, historical or architectural beauty where taking photos is banned because of possible damage to artwork or artifacts. RESPECT THESE PLACES. Imagine if everyone before you disrespected these rules, you wouldn’t find them in their beauty and glory…the coming generations will thank you for it! Do teach your children about these priceless treasures too so they learn to respect and pass on the lesson.
And by the way, mind that selfie stick…they are fast becoming a nuisance and have been banned in some places. So make sure your beloved stick is not confiscated cos you took it in the wrong location. And not all photos are great shares. We don’t need to see you in your Adam suit however lovely the bathroom suite may be!
Be sure the locals are happy to take a selfie with you, or having their image taken for your posterity! Don’t take liberties!
My rule of thumb;
“is this photo worth taking? Will I even look at it 3 months later with nostalgia..? If the answer is NO, I don’t take that photo simple!” – Julie Syl Kalungi
But of course be sure to take that Outer space Selfie…you may never get another chance 🙂
Vacation Dinner Etiquette #6 Food No Nos
Yes one of the reasons we travel lots is to try out new and different cuisines…And we try to go find the local cuisine as opposed to eating hotel foods or chips and chicken or whatever all the time. Don’t be loud, and rude, chewing with your mouth full and pointing while dinning is rude. No one wants to look at your cud as you chew it so its best you keep it closed as you chew. In fact a friend told me that in USA blowing on your piping hot food is considered rude.
If you are hosted, watch what the hosts do or ask diplomatically and eat what you are given, unless you have food allergies. Let them know in advance if thats the case & maybe contribute to your meals!
Vacation Etiquette #7 Clean up aka Personal Hygiene
Personal hygiene may seem like an obvious vacation etiquette. Yet the number of times I have sat beside someone that smells like they came out of a bar after 3 nights of drinking and no bath…Euuurrgg! Or someone takes their shoes off and airs their toes on along haul flight, with smelly dirty socks of some form of foot/nail problem…aaarrrg! Do take a shower and use deodorant before travelling. Use that strong perfume spray sparingly. Keep your shoes on, put on a pair of fresh socks,…and wear clean underwear! Who knows what could happen and you may need help. Make it easy for the help team. In short save everyone on the same journey, vacation or vehicle the smelliness or strong scents!
Vacation Etiquette #8 Talk to your children
It’s a common problem, a harassed mom with unruly children, having a sibling battle in the plane/bus/train isle and a queue forming behind. They carry on the bickering when sat down, kick the seats in front, push their seats waaay back and are a general nuisance…(of course yours are lil angels right 😛) Well here is the thing, these children have not been prepared by you about travel or vacation etiquette.
How about you prepare your wee angels before the trip. Set a reward system for great behaviour and remind them it’s a vacation for mom/dad to enjoy and relax too. Your children should really be taught to respect authority…On a flight/cruise it could be the difference between an enjoyable trip or a nightmare. And their safety could be at risk! Goes back to respect really…
Teach your children respect in your daily life and your travel experiences won’t be a nightmare. Same goes for how they treat the hotel room and property. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Remember children are children and will always act as children unless they are given an attractive alternative….
So how about you do prepare them for the “Treat” they are about to have so they “Earn” it with good behaviour; To, during and from the vacation…Of course future trips also on the line if bad behaviour manifests! Have a chat with them about the rules and travel etiquette where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, and what you expect of them – don’t hold back or be too soft, you NEED that vacation too right!
Vacation Etiquette #9 Lighten up…it’s a vacation!
Yes many of us have become intolerant of other people, children, differences, foreign cultures, etc. Come on lighten up a lil you are all on vacation or heading somewhere. Consider that your paths have crossed for that moment in time. Why not enjoy it or let them be! Ignore the child that’s screaming, empathize with the parent. Could be their first flight, cruise or bus/train trip ever, and they are stressed out as it is. Don’t mind them…Why not use some earphones if on a flight or long coach journey. By the way take yours!
Why not let the middle passenger have that arm rest on a long haul flight! And definitely grab a travel pillow during winter sales, they are super cheap, so you don’t fall asleep on a random stranger’s shoulder!
If you travel with children, how about bringing enough stuff to keep them entertained till arrival or they sleep it out? That way other travellers won’t give you the evils. 🙂
And if you wish to have a bellyful and a laugh about social media etiquette while on vacation simply head to Buzzfeed.
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I am sure I have a few travel manners left out and you too of course have yours, so why not tell us your version of travel etiquette! What are your vacation etiquette pet hates? What tips do you have for first time travellers? Do share below!
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