Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: The Basic Rules of Travel Etiquette
Check bad manners at the gate.
There’s no excuse for bad manners. Good manners are free of charge, easy to employ, and bona fide evidence that your mama and daddy raised you right. But sometimes, matters of etiquette prove trickier than you might expect, so we’re here to set the record straight. Consider it your Southern Living guide to modern manners. Be polite, or die trying, y’all.
Let’s talk travel.
Can I wear sweatpants/pajamas/yoga pants on a plane/train/bus?
Unless you are a traveling athlete and wearing sponsored gear, sweatpants are a no-go. Unless you are an Olympic sleeper and pajamas are the uniform, those are also a no-go. Yoga pants can be acceptable, so long as they are styled appropriately. The terminal is not your living room, nor is it your yoga studio: Leave the Uggs and workout tanks at home, and pair them with stylish sneakers and a cute, cozy sweater instead. That said, it’s always nice to dress up (just a little!) for traveling: Don’t underestimate the polish—and comfort—of a well-kept pair of jeans, a basic white tee, and a blazer or sweater. (Plus, it’s nice to have that extra layer for warmth when the plane gets cold.)
Is it appropriate to bring food on a plane/train/bus?
Assuming TSA approved it, yes. That said, while you are entitled to enjoy your lunch at 10,000 feet, be considerate of your fellow passengers. This is not the time for tuna salad, Philly cheesesteaks, and other fragrant, messy foods. And yes, table manners apply to the tray table in front of you.
Is it okay to take my shoes off on a plane/train/bus?
Even if your mother's told you your feet are the cutest lil piggies she’s ever seen, kindly keep your shoes on. Not everyone will be so enamored. (Also germs. Ew.) If you are settling in for a long flight or ride, it’s acceptable to change into a more comfortable pair of shoes, like slippers, once you’re seated.
What about proper etiquette for traveling abroad?
Lest we forget, the way we do things around here is not the way everyone does things: What is considered acceptable behavior here is not acceptable everywhere. When traveling to a foreign country, take time to educate yourself on the country’s customs, etiquette protocol, and manner of dressing. Try, too, to learn the basics of the language—even if all you master is how to say, “I’m sorry. I don’t speak Italian. Do you speak English?” Be respectful. You are a guest in someone else’s home country, and you should behave as such.