Travel Etiquette for Public Transportation:
Please, please, please for the sake of all things good and decent in the world have some kind of travel etiquette for public transportation! When traveling you’re going to be using a lot of public transportation and you need to be prepared for how to deal with, and how not to be, “that guy“. Surprisingly or not travel etiquette and just plain common decency, in general, is a disappearing concept in today’s world. There’s a lot of assholes out there and it seems like they’re popping out of the woodwork these days. Sorry, but it’s true.
It only stands to reason that you’ll come across some of these top-notch d-bags while you’re traveling. How you deal with rude people on your vacation or whatever, is really all up to you, but try your hardest not to let them get to you and ruin your trip. While some fellow travelers may be maddening rude, or uncaring, try to keep in open mind it may not always be on purpose. Most of these would be barbarous tourists are not intending to offend anyone or step on any toes.
That being said, there’s always going to be that guy who’s an inconsiderate asshole no matter where you go. That person who just doesn’t get the concept of travel etiquette, or hell even simple manners. Sometimes you might even be that guy. I know there were times when we were and didn’t even realize it. Seeing other people act like a fool can sometimes point out your own faults. And, that it did.
Seeing that guy everywhere taught us more about travel etiquette than anything else. Now it’s even become a bit of a game we play pointing out that guy to each other wherever we see one. Sadly it’s usually an American tourist, which has consequently led to us also playing spot the “American Abroad” as well. What can I say? We’re just generally loud and obnoxious around these parts. Sorry.
Like I said sometimes when we travel we’re unknowingly rude and inconsiderate to other people. Let’s face it public transportation can be stressful and sometimes we forget the little things like being polite to one another. Even though we all have our own problems we can at least try to pay attention and consider others. We can all strive for better travel etiquette when we are guests in other countries. Isn’t there a saying that goes something like “treat other’s how you want to be treated?”
So, to help raise awareness we put together a list (actually a lot of lists) on how not to be that guy when traveling. Since all things travel kind of have to start with getting to your destination, travel etiquette for public transportation is as good a place to start as any.
Planes, Trains, & Some Dude in an Uber: Travel Etiquette for Public Transportation
1. Don’t be that guy who holds up the line.
So you’re the next up in whatever never-ending line you’ve been in. It’s your turn and everyone behind you is staring at you tapping their feet anxiously waiting for you to quickly get out-of-the-way. The pressures on whether you know it or not. You’re up champ.
Have your money ready. Have your ticket ready. Have all your paperwork ready and please, please do not end up having to search your luggage for that one thing you forgot. If your standing in long lines you should have everything out beforehand. There’s really no reason not to unless you just genuinely didn’t know what you needed. Usually, though there will be signs posted telling you, so keep an eye out.
Hell, if you don’t know ask someone that’s around you. Try really hard not to be that guy who makes everyone else wait even longer than they have to. People get really irritable when standing in lines and this is a good way to induce a mob mentality if you’re not careful. If you’re not ready step to the side while you figure yourself out and let everyone else pass.
2. Don’t be that guy who cuts in line.
First off, orderly straight lines are the way to go. Nobody likes a giant blob of a line. We like to know where we stand, what number we are and how morally defeating the wait is going to be. If the lines chaos everything just takes longer. It might be up for debate but what really throws fuel on the fire is when one person saves a spot for a group. There you are third in line when all of a sudden you see a giant group of frat boys rushing toward you still getting dressed s they do. Luckily for them, they didn’t have to be responsible and wake up at the butt crack of dawn to stand in this line. They were lucky enough to have just the one person ahead of you be the responsible one for the whole group. There should be a rule, one spot-holder per person.
3. Don’t be that guy who blocks the travelators, escalators or anything else that rhymes.
Umm…if you have to stop at least don’t stand in the middle with all your bags and children. Stand on the right, pass on the left.
4. Don’t be that guy who tries to push their way on while everyone else is trying to exit.
Passengers exit before you get on. That’s just the way it goes. Avoid gridlock at the door by following this simple rule.
5. Don’t be that guy who skips paying your fare.
It might seem easy to sneak on some buses and metros but if you’re caught you will have to pay a fine. Plus, one of the reasons ticket prices constantly go up is to compensate for the bad seeds. Nobody wants to pay more and nobody likes bad seeds, don’t be that guy.
6. Don’t be that guy who doesn’t reserve your seat.
Some trains in Europe will require a reservation as well as the ticket. This is especially true for sleeper cars and trains that will cross borders. If you buy your ticket online or use a pass be sure to check the requirements of your booking first as you may also need a reservation. This is an extra cost and can vary in price by distance, seating, and type of train.
Some people try to avoid this by just getting on the train without one. In some places, this might work because tickets are not checked closely or the train is relatively empty. However, it’s more likely that your ticket will be checked and you will have to pay for the reservation anyway. You also might be taking someone’s seat who actually paid for theirs.
In some countries, this is a serious offense, and you may be fined, kicked off the train or even arrested. Generally, you won’t be arrested, you will have to buy the reservation or pay a fine or both. Why risk being arrested or a fine at all?
7. Don’t be that guy who’s impatient.
Don’t force your way from your seat in the back to the exit. Let the people in front of you out first when possible. Waiting your turn will really help the stops be smoother and faster for everyone.
8. Don’t be that guy who blocks the aisle when you finally decide to gather your belongings.
When it’s time to get off try and have your things ready. If you don’t have everything ready for a quick pick up and go definitely try not to stand in the aisle bent over the seat with your ass blocking everyone from getting past. Who else just pictured that butt?
9. Don’t be that guy who stands right up on the doors.
Stay clear of doors. You won’t get hit by them when they are trying to open or close, and you won’t stop them from doing so because you are in the way. Give people enough room to get on and off without having you move every time.
10. Don’t be that guy who plays whack-a-mole with luggage.
Don’t be that guy who constantly hits people with your giant-ass backpack while getting on or off, take it off before you get on. The aisles on planes and trains are usually narrow and there’s nothing worst then trying to stand up from your seat only to keep getting knocked over or blocked in by people and luggage while they rush by.
11. Don’t be that guy who leaves luggage blocking aisles and doorways. It’s a safety hazard, bro.
So. You’re that guy who decides to bring every piece of luggage on with you and now there’s not enough room. Well, well, well, what a predicament you’ve found yourself in. Welp, guess you better just put it right in the middle of the aisle where everyone walks! Come on, don’t be that guy too. Please, be mindful not to leave your personal belongings in the way for others to trip over. It’s a safety hazard and it’s plain rude. Plus what if someone’s an ass and decides to just step on whatever it is, possibly breaking it? If there’s not enough room for your luggage speak to an attendant they may be able to assist you. They’ll probably just end up asking you to move it anyways.
12. Don’t be that guy who takes up all the overhead space with your carry-ons.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve got to our seat on a bus or train only to find that all the luggage racks are full because of someone with a crap ton of luggage. Who also manages to take six seats worth of storage space. A lot of times it’s unavoidable because you can’t check your luggage, but at least wait until you found out if someone else needs to use the overhead before you take it all to yourself. Then, there’s that guy who refuses to fork of the money and check their luggage when they actually have the chance. They think they’re slick but I’m on to ’em…
Either way, it’s not cool taking up ALL the space. If the bus or train doesn’t have an option for you to check your luggage they at least, usually, have a space dedicated to storing extra luggage. If not…well then I guess that’s when all bets are off, it’s everybody for themselves and you should probably just forget everything I just said.
I get it, sometimes it can be unnerving being separated from your worldly possessions. I was like that and couldn’t stand the thought of putting my backpack out of eyesight. Luckily for us, we only had the backpacks. We at least were able to just put them in our laps if we had to. If you’re worried just try to keep an eye out, get a seat closer to your bags if possible. If it makes you feel better to get a lock. I did, it helped! But don’t worry to much, most people won’t even look twice at your bags and if it’s an unsafe environment you can usually tell.
13. Don’t be that guy who lets your kids run wild.
We had a 12-hour flight from Turkey to Canada when we came home from our trip to Europe. The whole left side of the plane was one large family with many, many, many children of various ages. This was the worst flight ever. Not one adult even attempted to keep the children in their seats at all. I get it they’re kids and they’re on a plane so it has to be horribly boring for them. But there’s no reason to let your kids run up and down the aisles non-stop screaming at the top of their lungs for hours on end. None. Get your kids in check people.
14. Don’t be that guy who keeps everyone awake.
If you’re on a night train or plane and have people in your general vicinity that are trying to sleep try being mindful of this and keep the volume level down. Use headphones if you have them and for the love of God don’t be that guy who has a whole phone conversion with someone on speaker.
15. Don’t be that guy who blasts music.
Man, this one is for public transportation, traveling and every other possible facet of life. Don’t walk around blasting music on your phone. Use some headphones! We really, really, really, and I do mean REALLY have no interest in listening to your music. Also don’t listen to your headphones so loud that they act as speakers, just be courteous and turn your music down when you’re in public.
16. Don’t be that guy who swears, or talks about inappropriate subjects.
Nobody wants to hear about your sex life or hear the fuck word every few seconds. I mean come on, and there are usually a lot of kids around when you ride public transportation too. Won’t somebody please think of the children!?!
17. Don’t be that guy who argues or gets into a fight with the person you are with.
This is just awkward for everyone. I don’t understand how people can get into heated arguments with someone in public. Be it on the phone or in person save that crap for when you get home. There’s a lot to be said about the silent treatment when you’re mad.
18. Don’t be that guy who talks non-stop.
We’ve all sat next to someone like this. They could be the nicest person in the world but you really wish they would just shut up so you can get some sleep or finish some work. It’s nice to be friendly and all but sometimes people want to be left alone. If you are on the receiving end of this it’s probably best just to bite the bullet and tell them politely that you want to be left alone.
19. Don’t be that guy who adjusts the temperature of a room or cabin without asking others.
Not everyone has the same comfort zone. If you’re sharing a temperature controlled cabin like the ones that are common on European trains, be nice and ask if it’s okay to change the settings. Usually, people don’t care but are more likely to get mad if you don’t ask them. You know how it is, they don’t want to go to the dance, they just want to be asked.
20. Don’t be that guy who willy-nilly opens the window.
If your in one of those cabins mentioned above make sure you check with your cabinmates before opening the window. It’s just like with the thermostat, everyone does not have the same comfort zone and it’s polite to ask if it would be okay to open the window.
21. Don’t be that guy who puts your feet on the coffee table.
Okay so unless you are in an airport lounge or a restaurant or bar or something like that while you’re waiting for a flight, you probably won’t find many coffee tables using public transportation. Still didn’t your mom ever tell you not to put your dirty feet on the coffee table? Well, the same goes for seats and other surfaces that fellow travelers may use. Your shoes are dirty don’t put them on things.
22. Don’t be that guy who smokes in the restroom.
I’m a smoker and I never do this…well… I take that back, there was this one night train in Croatia where everyone and their brother was doing it. Hell on that train we just smoked in our cabin. We were locked into the car with our window stuck open anyways, so why not. But seriously unless it’s actually allowed, which is becoming very rare, don’t smoke on public transportation. Please, be kind and courteous. This isn’t the 50’s after all.
23. Don’t be that guy who doesn’t tip the driver.
If you use taxis, Ubers, Lyfts and so on be nice and tip. This is how a large majority of these drivers make their money. Plus, if you play your cards right with a well-placed tip, you might be able to get the driver’s direct number and work out a deal to use them all day. There’s a good chance that they’ll want to stiff the competition by guaranteeing your returning business.
24. Don’t be that guy who just assumes you’re supposed to tip the driver.
The above being said for places that do tip, just take note that not all countries view tips the same as we do. In some places, you just might offend your driver by tipping him. It’s best to do the tipping custom research for each country you visit.
25. Don’t be that guy who coughs on everything and everyone.
There are reasons people wear surgical masks when going out in public and one of them is you. That’s right you sniffly sneezily coughing without covering your mouth up germ ridden little jerk I’m talking about you. Cover your mouth, dude!
26. Don’t be that guy who makes the little old lady stand.
Come on, have some class give up your seat for Grandma she deserves it. If this needs explained further, you should probably stop reading this and go pick up a self-help book.
27. Don’t be that guy who wants to watch the world burn.
Don’t litter, don’t vandalize and don’t destroy crap. THIS guy is why we can never have nice things!
Don’t Be That Guy:
Not all of these may apply to every country you visit so just keep that in mind. Every country and every person may have differences on what is considered respectful. It can be hard to keep up with the customs, etiquette’s and what’s acceptable and what’s not in all the countries you visit. What might be considered polite in one country could be offensive in another. It’s a good idea to take the time to read up on the place you’re visiting to get an idea ahead of time. Generally, you’ll find that common decency, being polite, respectful and practicing the ancient art of common sense will go along way.
We hope you enjoyed the first edition of Don’t Be That Guy!
Make sure to check back soon for more travel etiquette tips on how to not be that guy!