Three Tips to Make You a Travel Role Model

As someone who travels a lot, I try to be respectful of individuals for whom it is not their regular routine.  Observing a healthy percentage of these folks over the recent holidays caused me to think of a few simple principles we can all adopt to be Travel Role Models for others.

The Traveler • Eduardo Urcolo
Begin before the bins (your security prep, that is).

Things are much easier if your security preparation begins at home.  If you're going to have to take it off to get through security, don't put it on in the first place.  And yes that applies to the 49 lovely bracelets normally embracing both your arms.

For airports using the new scatter-ray machines, you can't have anything in your pockets.  Make your life easier by not putting anything in them as you dress.  In a Ziplock bag, I put my wallet, cash, lip balm, and other items I keep in my pockets and put that bag in the front pocket of my rollerbag.  I keep my driver's license separate with my boarding pass and then put them in my briefcase after my I.D. has been checked.  This expedites getting through x-ray much more quickly.

And you know what really gets you through X-ray more quickly?  Getting ready for it while you stand in that long line you complain about.  That's the time to take off your coat and empty your pockets if you didn't follow the previous advice.  Get that laptop and your liquids and gels ready to grab and put in a bin.   Speaking of bins, your bag doesn't need one.  Every day thousands of bins go through the x-ray for no reason because someone set their backpack, purse, or briefcase in them.  All of those bins take time to move through the system, they then stack up on the other end, and require extra time for TSA to restock them.  Be a better Bin Buddy.  Don't use them when you don't need to and do turn them horizontally so more of them fit on the belt.

Remember you are not flying on your private jet.

Wait.  You are? Call me.  I'd like a ride.  It's shared space people.  I'm amazed at folks who haphazardly throw their bags and coats in a bin, consuming far more space than is required, and then get perturbed when other passengers move those items to make room for their own.   Place your rollerbag in lengthwise as close to other items as you can, then check to make sure the bin closes.

Do use the space underneath the seat in front of you for your smaller items.  I'm 6'6" tall and desperately need that space for my feet, particularly on regional jets.  But I always put my briefcase there because once we have taken off I can pull it out, put it behind my legs up next to my seat, and then stretch my legs.  Bins are needed for rollerbags and other big pieces of luggage.  If after everyone has boarded bin space is still available, then by all means move items up there if you want.

Please don't be a Reckless Recliner, the person who slams his seat bag at rocket velocity without any regard for the person behind him.  Recline very slowly and/or inform the person behind you that you are going to recline your seat and you want her to know in case she has a laptop on her tray table.

Be a conscientious hotel guest.

It's safe to assume your hotel room door will slam shut behind you, setting off earthquake tremors that wake everyone else on your floor.  Spare us the aftershocks by blocking the door with your bag when you arrive and then closing it manually.  Do the same when checking out.  When entering and exiting the room during your stay, keep a firm hold on the door and shut it yourself.  If you're really nice, you won't pull it shut in one quick move, but will go slowly at the very end since the locking mechanism almost always makes a lot of noise.  Oh, and if you plan on ironing at 4 a.m. for your morning flight, please open that darned screechy thing in the evening.

Help keep the house for the housekeepers.  I wouldn't leave opened packets of sugar and used coffee pods sitting out in my home, so there is no need to do so in my hotel room.  If we pick up a bit after ourselves, we make it easier for the people who have a very demanding job.  Tipping them daily should be our routine, but that doesn't mean we can't help make it easier for them to service our room.  Putting back the ironing board, throwing all used towels in the shower when checking out, putting trash and recycling into the right receptacles ... are all nice gestures.

What are other habits and principles you would suggest for anyone wanting to be a Terrific Traveler?

And if you'd like to go beyond just not having your towels changed, becoming a real partner in sustainability efforts, here are some previously published thoughts about how to be an Eco Guest.

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