When it comes to traveling and sharing limited space with strangers on a plane, bus and in public spaces, there are lots of important (yet unspoken) rules that everyone should be familiar with.
Though in many cases these rules are simply a matter of courtesy and self-awareness, it's important to know them and put them into practice whenever you can.
So whether you've traveled a ton or are new to the gig, you'll want to adhere to these unspoken customs any time you're sharing a public space with others.
On a plane
Stay within the invisible lines of your space. Respect the space of other people. Though you may feel crammed, understand that others are just as limited on space as you are, so taking the extra elbow room or extending your feet into someone else's space isn't warranted. If you really want more space, purchase an extra seat or cross your fingers that the seat next to you will be empty.
Invest in personal hygiene beforehand. Easy enough, right? Wear deodorant, brush your teeth, wash your hands...and all that good stuff to keep yourself smelling (and feeling) clean.
That being said, don't wait to take care of personal hygiene ON the plane. This means don't spray yourself with perfumes, or load on lotions or nail polishes while on the plane – these scents travel far and some people may be allergic! And also don't do any grooming while on the plane.
On a bus / train
Stick to your own seat. In other words, don't take up two seats. This goes especially for men, who tend to think they can sprawl their legs onto someone else's seat. (Women, am I right?!) And if you're carrying a purse or bag, don't take up an extra seat for it.
Give up your seat, if you can. If someone else could really use your seat and you're able-bodied, then give up the seat for an elderly person, pregnant woman, or a small child who can't balance on a moving train.
Be kind to staff and people who work in customer service. Remember that those who work in customer service literally have an entire day that revolves around trying to please everyone. They're just doing their jobs for probably minimal pay, so be patient, be kind and overall respect them as you would anyone else.
Tip when you can. There are different customs in every country when it comes to tipping, but in general, tip when you can. If someone has provided you with a service, opened a door for you, served you food, carried your luggage, guided you to your destination... show them you are grateful with a tip.
Don't hog sidewalks. Sidewalks are to facilitate movement in the public space, so "pull over" if you need to and make sure you and your friends or family are not walking alongside each other and blocking the flow of movement.
Remember public RESOURCES are shared. That means bathrooms, doorways, walkways, seating, etc., are all meant to be shared, so don't hog up more resources than you need to and be mindful of others who want to use those spaces too.
Contain your drinking. This is probably a good rule for anyone, anywhere, but especially in public spaces, drinking and getting rowdy doesn't usually result in a positive outcome if you're getting out of hand.
Don't assume locals will care for / be impressed by where you're from. Sometimes people proudly announce where they are from when talking to locals, hoping to get special treatment and then getting annoyed if they don't. So don't be that person. If someone cares to know where you're from, they'll ask you.
Though unspoken, everyone understands that these customs make life easier when you're sharing a space in public. By increasing your self-awareness and being more mindful of the people around you and how you're affecting them, you're more likely to make friends with strangers – or at least avoid getting some glares!
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