Oh No You Didn't! 5 Ways Travelers Have Lost Their Manners
They're loud. They smell bad. And their clothes would make Mr. Blackwell blush.
What is it about travel that makes people jettison their manners?
Whether it's the Ugly American or the Entitled Elite, travel has no shortage of unflattering stereotypes. They've always been with us. They'll always be with us. But are their numbers growing?
Hard to say. When it comes to air travel, it's difficult to tell whether unruly passenger incidents are on the rise. Both the
But the anecdotes. Oh, the anecdotes!
You name it, chances are, it's happened -- from passengers hitting flight attendants, to flight attendants hitting back. Bad hotel guests, car rental customers and cruise passengers? You don't have to look far to find them.
An online poll of my 14,000-member travel panel suggests people are getting ruder on the road. Seven out of 10 respondents said travelers were behaving worse. One-quarter of travelers said the behavior was "about the same" while only a fraction of respondents -- roughly 2 percent -- said people were behaving better.
But let's break it down. How, exactly, are travelers misbehaving? And what can be done about it?
WHAT HAPPENS HERE STAYS HERE
That's not just a cute advertising slogan used by Sin City. It apparently applies to almost any travel experience, anywhere -- but thanks, Vegas, for the help.
Phrases like, "What happens here, stays here," while catchy, tend to give travelers a license to let it all hang out while they're away. And that can easily morph into rudeness.
The fix: Although there's always been a natural tendency to take certain liberties when you're away, I think destinations can help by not encouraging their visitors to be whomever they feel like being. Slogans like "Come as you are" and "Always turned on" don't engender good behavior now, do they?
One of the most common complaints I get about inconsiderate travelers is the way they smell. Apparently, this extends far beyond your aunt's God-given right to douse herself with Gardenia perfume, pre-flight.
Travelers gripe about stale tobacco smells, body odors, aftershave and spicy food prepared with an abundance of onion and garlic. "I think everyone should have to pass a stink test," says
Make no mistake, we're not talking about a little whiff of something unpleasant. Take the issue of smoking in a hotel room. That can seriously affect the next guest -- which could be you.
The fix: You'd think the TSA's liquid and gel ban would at least put a lid on this problem. But no. I think perfumes and colognes should come with warning labels to use them responsibly in public places. But short of that, you can always turn to your seatmate and say, "You smell." How's that for rude?
ARE THOSE YOUR PAJAMAS?
I've never been a big supporter of dress codes, but enough is enough. I've seen too many passengers and hotel guests that look like they live under a bridge.
Deregulation lowered fares and made travel more accessible, but now the barbarians are at the gate." A few years ago,
The fix: A dress code may be too much, but how about minimum dress requirements? You see them in restaurants -- "No Shoes. No Shirt. No Service." Why not on planes, hotels and ships?
There's a whole subset of travelers whose behavior is offensive because they don't prepare. They act as if they're still at home.
"They are the goofballs who have a roller bag, carry-on, oversize purse slung over their shoulder, and a cup of coffee," says
But is cluelessness always obnoxious? No, not always. When kids are clueless ("What state are we in?") it can be cute. When an adult asks what state you're in -- not so much.
The fix: There are any number of terrific guidebooks and websites that are a guaranteed fix to the cluelessness. Try 'em.
SHOW A LITTLE RESPECT
Self-centeredness has been with us since there have been airplanes. And cruise ships. And hotels. And yes, people. Maybe more travelers are complaining about the selfish behavior of their fellow travelers. Then again, it could just be the times we're living in. Every man for himself; I thought we got over that in the '80s.
I had a similar experience at a
The fix: Respect is something taught by parents and reinforced in school. If our kids are flouting the rules, guess who is to blame?
I admit that these five ways travelers are misbehaving only scratches the surface of a problem that afflicts society, not just people who are on the road. You don't have to get out much to know that travelers are often self-centered, clueless, offensive and that they dress badly.
The solutions, while obvious, remain elusive.
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