Basic Travel Etiquette for Beginners

Like most things in life, there is a right way, and a wrong way to do things, traveling is no exception. Since nobody enjoys dealing with an ass, following these common sense guidelines will at least prevent you from looking like one. It’s not difficult, and common decency allows everyone’s travel experience to be more enjoyable.

Most of these guidelines are not specific to the section it’s listed under, they are interchangeable, and should be applied to more than one section during your travels.


  • Don’t slam the door when entering and exiting your room, and avoid talking loudly in the evening or early morning hours. Some travelers go to bed early, while some want to sleep past 5 a.m. We all have different itineraries, being quiet is being respectful.
  • At the breakfast buffet, go with the flow and don’t rush people. Offer help when someone needs it. Don’t reach around anyone. Definitely do not touch any unpackaged food item with your bare hands. Also, if you have kids, watch them, and teach them to respect others. It’s not a food eating contest, have manners, and don’t get more than you can eat.


  • Stand away from the door, preferably to the right side. This allows people on the elevator an unobstructed path out. Crowding is not necessary. Allow people off the elevator before boarding it.
  • Don’t squeeze into the confined space of the elevator. Simply wait for the next elevator to arrive if there is not enough room.
  • If you are already en route, and standing by the floor number selector, ask people who are boarding the elevator, what floor they need.
  • Don’t reach over people to select your floor, a simple, “Will you please push floor number 12 for me?” will suffice.
  • Keep phone calls, music, and video games private. Nobody wants to hear it.


  • In the airport boarding areas, only occupy one seat, your personal items don’t need their own seat when other passengers are standing.
  • On the plane, the person sitting in the middle seat should get both armrests, nobody likes sitting in the middle, it’s the least you can do. The outside seats guarantee at least one armrest, that is all you need, because you either get the aisle seat or the window seat as well.
  • Also, while on the plane, glance behind you before reclining your seat back. Nobody wants the back of a seat to hit them in the face, nor is anyone ecstatic about wearing whatever is on the tray in front of them.
  • Keep bathroom related activities private, people don’t want to smell nail polish, watch you floss your teeth, clean out your ears, or pick your nose, nor do they want pieces of clipped fingernails to fly into their space.


  • Remember you are not the only person who exists. Do not push past anyone, and be aware of others around you.
  • Foreigners do things differently than you do at home, be willing to learn their ropes, be patient, polite, and respectful with how things are done in their neck of the woods. Know before you go (look for this travel tip post within the next week or so).
  • Tip when necessary and tip appropriately.
  • Everyone wants to take photographs, please be courteous and try to stay out of their photos. Prior to clicking that shutter button, everyone has a vision of the photograph they want to take, and photo bombers more than likely were not included in that vision. Also, don’t linger too long it one particular area, because everyone wants to take the same photograph.
  • Tour buses, river boats, anything of the like, where many people are crowding on to the same vessel, wait your turn, don’t push, and try not to be right on top of anyone else.

Regardless of where you are, two of the most important things that you can remember is to act in a way that you would like others to act, and treat people the way you would want to be treated.


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