please and thank you…travel edition

The screaming baby on a 9 hour flight, and the “choosing-to-ignore-it” parents. The loud talking cell phone user on the adjacent tour bus seat. The complaining companion who only wants to eat at McDonalds, “because it’s safe”. The friend who refuses to leave the hotel, for fear of getting robbed by the crazy locals. In regards to travel, I’m sure we’ve all seen these people. And I’m sure we’ve all felt annoyed by these people. Annnnnd, I’m also sure that some of us have even BEEN these people (c’mon, admit it!). So what do you do? What is the protocol in regards to being an upstanding traveller?

I’m no expert, but after the years of travelling that I have under my belt, I have been privy to observe some rules of travel etiquette. Now, these rules aren’t written in stone, but are merely suggestions, some a bit stronger than others! Many of these rules can also be used as an everyday adherence. I mean, when it comes right down to it, this is all just good manners, people!!

Before your trip:

1. When planning a trip with a large group of people, I have one word for you: COMMUNICATION! Almost every trip involving multiple people ends up with someone feeling, or actually being left out (Home Alone wasn’t just a movie!!). Make sure to include everyone in the planning process. Not everyone travels the same way you do, and not everyone will be able to afford everything you can, so make sure to get input from ALL parties while planning your trip!

2.  Pack accordingly!! I am very much guilty of this one, as most of the time, I have forgotton at least one (if not ALL) of my toiletries. Yup, I am that girl, the one that is bounding into your hotel room asking, “Can I borrow your toothpaste? I left mine at home…”. Yes, guilty as charged. That being said, it’s important that you make sure to pack mindfully since assuming that someone else will have what you need is very dangerous! This is especially important if you know you will be in an area that is not conveniantly located near shopping centers. Plus, when you’ve paid that extra $15 bag fee charge by the airline to make sure you had extra sweaters for those chilly nights, it’s pretty annoying when you don’t end up wearing them, thanks to your “super cold” friend who just so happened to forget theirs….

3. Arrive on time for your transportation! Whether it’s a carpool, flight, bus, water taxi, camel, etc., you should always make sure to arrive with plenty of time to spare. This is even more important when others are waiting on you. Everyone is eager to get to their destination, and many times, airlines, taxi services, bus routes, etc. all have a strict schedule to keep. By being late, you are not only holding up your own ride, but wreaking havoc on the rides of all future patrons. So, if you know you are a late riser, or just simply cannot help but rush each morning, set multiple alarms, or enlist the help of a friend who is more adept to keeping with the clock. 🙂

During your trip:

1. Roll with the punches! Go with the flow! Stay loose (and not in the bowel movement way..hehe)! Something is always going to happen, and the more you come to terms with that, the better! Keeping an open mind about transportation glitches, hotel reservation screw-ups, or manic cases of sunburn are only going to allow you to enjoy the rest of your trip. Case in point: during a trip to Poland, my friends and I missed the last bus to our airport, which was 30 minutes away….by car. Instead of freaking out, we hoofed it ourselves, and because of that, were able to get a great workout in AND sight see better than we could have if we were stuck inside a taxi!

2. Eat, drink, play local! This is a rule very near and dear to my heart. One of my pet peeves is the traveller that refuses to step outside their comfort zone and experience life where they are. I mean, what is the purpose of travelling somewhere different if you don’t want to try anything new? You might as well stay at home and enjoy that McRib sandwich from the comfort of your couch…just sayin’. 🙂 Make the most of your time! Ask the locals where the best places to eat are. Explore the side streets for those hidden boutiques. Find the local art museums or theaters and catch a show. Spend time in the community park and eat a picnic lunch from the farmer’s market. You should ask yourself at least once on the trip, “Is this something I can do at home?” If it is, try to skip it. If not, then GO FOR IT! 🙂

3. Be courteous to the natives! I see this constantly: the rude, obnoxious tourist who exclaims loudly at 2pm, “What do you MEAN I can’t go shopping now? Why is the store closed? They should be open! We don’t do this in {INSERT COUNTRY}!!” You see, at 2pm, specifically in Mediterranean countries, many shops/restaurants/bars close for a siesta, or nap time. Now, this is not a cultural practice here in America, so many people are not used to the time constraints when they visit overseas. However, we need to realize that this is the normal way of life for those individuals, and RESPECT that. This “rule” also pertains to being considerate of the language barrier. Just like we can’t speak their language, we should not assume they can speak ours. Carry a dictionary! Be prepared to do a wicked game of pictionary! Use hand gestures (but be very careful with this one, as they don’t all mean the same thing!! yikes!). Whatever the situation, just be patient and understand that just as it is difficult for you to get accustomed to them, it is difficult for them to get accustomed to YOU!

After your trip:

1. Communicate with your family/friends! One of the best parts of going on a trip is the memories that come from it. Share them! Organize your photos, scrapbooks, etc. Have a party with friends and share stories from your experiences. For my mother’s birthday this past year, we had a Spanish themed party at a popular tapas restaurant. I wanted to share with everyone our experience from a recent trip to Spain…and what better way than over a jug of sangria?? Elaborately or simply, just make sure to share your journey!

2. Unpack! Get moving! Get back to work! Yes, the saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation” is quite true, but the fact of the matter is: others are counting on you! Whether it’s a boss, a co-worker, a child, or a spouse, there are people who were anxiously awaiting your arrival home. Don’t put off the laundry, the inbox, or the stack of dishes you left in the sink (FYI: it’s always good to leave the house clean, so that you don’t have that issue coming home!). Of course, you need to make sure you are adjusting properly to your regular schedule, but don’t put it off! The longer you stay in “vacation-mode”, the harder it’s going to be getting back to normalcy. So, put away that bathing suit, get out that pants suit, and get back to work! 🙂

Of course, there are many more “rules and regulations” that you could follow when enjoying your next trip, but I wanted to make sure I passed along some of my own advice from my years of travel. Keep in mind, I’m not a professional traveller! (OHMYGOODNESS…dream job!!!) BUT, I have learned quite a bit! I hope that these tips are helpful!

happy travels!

hearts and hugs,

B.

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