Friday, May 6, 2011

Travel Etiquette

You know what's worse than a bunch of snakes in your plane? source

Lauren Says:

Once upon a time, on a flight far, far up in the air, there sat a little boy. The boy, let’s call him Boy Demon, sat next to his mother, who wore an eye mask which proudly pronounced her a ‘sexy kitten’ in fuchsia glitter and frantically clutched a miniature bottle of champagne in one hand and a king size chocolate bar in the other. His father wore high waisted denim and plaid and had the aisle seat; his ‘jolly’ jokes with the flight attendants made all parties uncomfortable.

Oversized for his age, the boy’s knees rested on the back of the chair in front of him, wiggling and pushing so that the passenger in front felt as though her back was a piece of bread dough being relentlessly kneaded for two hours. His large, one might say ‘gansta’ sneakers were kicked from his feet the minute the seat belt sign turned off, the pungent aroma of sweat, dirt and forgotten, crushed Cheeto dust filling the cabin. He inhaled two family sized packets of chips, reclined his chair as far as he could push it and sighed contentedly. Boy Demon loved to fly; there was nothing to do but, as the cabin crew instructed, ‘sit back and relax completely’.

One hour into the short two hour journey and Boy Demon became bored. Out whipped his mother the never fail solution to a whinging bout, the brand new Nintendo DS, complete with marvellously loud speakers and a selection of monotonous games just suited to Boy Demon’s intellect. Also equipped with a headphone port, the game console should not have caused issue for anybody on the flight. Boy Demon did not like to wear headphones, however, he feared that the air might not circulate to his ear drums and that he might get a headache, a theory that sounded so intelligent to his mother that she applauded the child rather than make him mind the comfort of the others surrounding and wear the damned headphones.

The incessant bleeping and bopping caused passengers within a ten metre radius to twitch and groan but the many pointed glances towards the family went unnoticed. It was with relief that all buckled up in preparation for landing, switching off mobile devices and pushing baggage under seats. Last minute toilet trips were made and window shutters were opened so that the descent could be seen and all began to think of the home or holidays to which they were arriving. Peace, though, was not easily attainable as Boy Demon’s DS continued to shriek and wail. His answer to being told to switch it off was that he had not yet finished the current level, and would lose all unsaved work, which was inconceivably accepted by his parents as a fair excuse. When the head flight attendant wandered down and asked for it to be put away for landing his father calmly explained to her that they were teaching their son the value of setting goals and working hard to get to them, and that they would really rather he was allowed to continue his game until he reached an appropriate stopping point. The flight attendant was, as one might expect, flabbergasted.

Boy Demon nearly died that day, and it wasn’t due to the fact that his DS caused signal errors and crashed the plane. Boy Demon was nearly incinerated by the hateful glares of hundreds of tired and hungry aeroplane passengers, a fate quick and binding, but he managed to escape unharmed only to cause further seething at the baggage carousel. He did not, would not ever know how lucky he was, and would probably grow from a Boy Demon into a Man Demon and continue pissing people off for the rest of his life.

This is the somewhat (but honestly not very) embellished story of the flight I took recently between Melbourne and Brisbane. Everything I could possibly say about the etiquette of travelling is contained within this little fable, but in case you missed the clues, here’s my main pointers;

RESPECT your fellow travels, and keep their comfort in mind when you make choices.

BE QUIET unless you’re particularly invited to be noisy, like if your train carriage collectively decides to play taboo or hangman, or if you’re on the tour bus in Almost Famous.




DON’T WHINGE the getting from point A to point B more or less sucks every time, so imagine what it would have been like when travel was mainly done by sea and deal with it.

KEEP YOUR CHILDREN IN CHECK you made the choice to have them, you made the choice to bring them here, you make the choice to not have them tossed out the window by other passengers who have been driven to insanity.

That said DON’T WHINGE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS (IF THEY’RE JUST BEING KIDS) so children happen, and sometimes they’re annoying. But unless they are being deliberately annoying like Boy Demon, you need to put up with it.

BE NICE Ok, so this is the first rule of etiquette in any situation, act as you hope everyone else will be acting, and you probably can’t go wrong.

Ell-Leigh Says:

Travelling can be really tough, particularly when you travel with someone. Whenever I hear back from friends who have travelled with someone for over two weeks they tend to have started to harbour some ill feeling towards them. Travelling with family? Well, it isn’t rare for many of us to go nuts just being in the same room with some of our family members for an hour, let alone a plane for 7, with a four hour stop over, before hopping on another plane for another 6 hours.

And that’s just getting to your destination.

Therefore it can be super tricky to keep your cool and remain the member of polite society you once were before the packing, flying and dehydrating due to hours of in flight air con. Not only are you cranky and headache-y from the lack of sleep and water, increase in cocktails (some even served in pineapples) and increase in time with your chosen travel partner/group and their once-lovable-or-at-least-ignorable-flaws but so are they, and chances are your flaws are just as annoying as theirs are.  So it’s important to maintain good travel etiquette at all times in order for a healthy relationship with your fellow travellers to exist by the time you get home, or at least so that you don’t stab them in the face with a plastic in-flight meal fork.

Firstly, give your travel buddies space. No need to be up in their grill all the time. I have trouble with this one when I’m travelling with my sisters, since we’re a very cuddly bunch, and usually this is a really good thing. Not so much when we’re all tired and cranky and feeling cuddly at the opposite times to the others. So it’s best to back away, although this might feel a bit weird depending on where your relationship was before you jumped in a plane/car/bus/caravan/canoe together for your exciting adventure.

Secondly, when on planes, make sure you don’t smell. Simple enough. However - the second part of this point is to make sure that not only you don’t smell bad but also that you aren’t so covered in perfume that everyone around you with allergies has to go through an even deeper hell for the length of their flight just because you’re in a seat near them. That’s no fair! Stick with lightly scented deodorant and leave it at that – apply your perfume at the airport when you get off! It’ll be fresher and more lovely applied then anyway.

Thirdly, pronounce the names of where you’re going the same way the locals do. This saves your travel buddies and cab drivers being confused anytime you are planning to go somewhere. Trust me, Even if you’re all speaking English, a foreign accent (yes, even an Australian one) can make it difficult for the locals to understand what you’re saying. It may also make the people you’re travelling with want to smother you with a pillow in your sleep… If they’re anything like me. Ehem.

Fourthly, try not to make it all about you. Sure, there are places you want to see, and there are places you might not, but if you’re travelling with someone it’s only polite to do what they want to do as well, especially if you’re dragging their butt around to places they have absolutely zero interest in day after day. Remember, they’ve probably payed just as much money to take their dream trip to NYC/Paris/Wherever as you did, and they deserve to see the sights they think are important.

Fifthly, and this one is as important for your sanity as those people around you’s. RELAX. Every time I’ve travelled somewhere I’ve seen this happen; someone starts to worry about something going missing (passport or ATM card etc), or that something bad will happen, and they get really paranoid and put heaps of energy into worrying about this thing, whatever it may be, and BAM, they lose that thing, or what they were worried would happen happens. Usually this thing happens because they made a decision based around their paranoia (taking their passport with them somewhere, making it more susceptible to getting lost or taken, or taking their card out of their wallet so that it’s “safe” etc). Fail. Chill. You’re there to have a good time, right? I know travelling can be stressful, but it’s only as stressful as you make it be. So chill.

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