We are super excited to be participating in this week’s Traveling Brown Girls Blog Carnival hosted by OneBrownGirl. Along with some of our favorite travelistas, we’ll be buzzing about travel etiquette, with an emphasis on pet peeves. After you read our top 5+ list, be sure to visit our carnival friends to see what’s on theirs. Then, jump on the comment stream below and tell us what gets YOUR travel goat.
1. THE “FIRST CLASS IS NOT FOR YOU” LOOK [Chelle]
Over the years, with regular business trips and top frequent flier status, I have taken my fair share of first class flights. Often times, I’ve been the only woman and more likely the only spot of melanin gracing the cabin. This, I can only assume, means that to some of the coach passengers who board after me, I must look like an alien, a figura extraña, a beacon of oddity shining in the light of the window seat. How else can I explain the soul-piercing stares, the rolled eyes and the undeniable attitudes that inevitably greet me before many flights where I’m seated in the forward cabin.
I am here to set the record straight — a brown girl CAN sit in first class. There’s no trick to this truth… I’m not an airline employee. I’m not a PYT (pretty young thing) for the old white man sitting next to me. I’m a travel-savvy chick who loves to fly comfortably every once in a while. Some days, I love that my presence is a gentle reminder to those staring that brown girls also have access to life’s finer things. But, most days, I’m just irritated by the string of uncomfortable reactions left in my wake as I journey down the red carpet, bypassing the others in the boarding line and proudly taking my seat at the front of the plane. To my fellow passengers, please stop hating. If you save your duckets or play the frequent flier game, you too can join me up here.
2. THE CHAIR KICKING DEMON [Crystal]
BEWARE of the chair kicker. You know who I’m talking about — that precocious little kid you thought was so cute in the gate waiting area who magically morphs into the chair-kicking demon behind you on the plane!
What makes it worst is their parents, sitting right next to them, who clearly see what’s going on and they don’t say or do ANYTHING. Parents, please get the memo. When I stand up in my chair, turn around and look at you like you’re crazy, this means get your CHILD, right NOW or else …
3. THE “WHO CARES ABOUT CULTURE” ATTITUDE [Chelle]
It was my first time in Venice and after landing, I decided to take a Vaporetto from the airport (instead of the train) so that I could approach the city of canals and bridges by water. As we circled Venice, everyone sat quietly soaking in the setting sun and the city lights shimmering on the lagoon.
Breaking the silence at an embarrassingly loud volume I might add, was that slightly-nasal accent undeniably hailing from midwest America. The woman sitting behind me began, “Ohhhh! Isn’t thaaat interesting!” as she took note of some unfamiliar aspect of Venetian culture. Responding in the grouchiest old man voice he could muster, her father huffed, “What? Am I supposed to care that they are different than us?”
I was mortified by their conversation and vowed to deny our compatriot connection. “If anyone asks, I’m Canadian! — at least until I can get off this boat.” But, when I realized that they were confused by the vaporetto’s route and about to disembark at the wrong stop, my inner “nice girl” kicked in. Since we were the only three native English speakers on board– and since they clearly just alienated any english-speaking Italians who might have been inclined to help, I spoke up and offered some direction. In the process, I learned that they were from a Chicago suburb and making a stop in Venice on their way home after two weeks at the Athens Olympics. Such a culturally-rich itinerary and it was completely lost on them!
I promised that day to approach travel with an open heart and to avoid the trap of cultural elitism as much as humanly possible. Let’s all work hard not become the “Ugly American.”
4. THE CURIOUS FINGERS [Crystal]
I rock a head full of natural curls that can sometimes morph into a big beautiful ‘fro — enticing to curious fingers, I know — but please don’t try to get your sneak on when I pass by. Just in case you aren’t sure, let me state this more clearly. Strangers copping an uninvited feel on my hair is a No, NO!
Last year, when my friends and I were traveling in Europe, I turned around to find two men — and their girlfriends no less — walking behind me, hands perched inches from my hair. When I caught them, they asked sheepishly, “Oh! Can we touch?”
I’m all for being a cultural ambassador and sharing my life experience, but OMG! Is that for real? I am a tourist … not a tourist attraction. Do I need to wear a sign like the ones we see in museums? When it comes to this brown girl and her big curly ‘fro — please don’t touch!
5. THE “DON’T WASH THE LINENS” POLICY [Chelle]
In attempt to save costs and develop Earth-friendly policies, many hotels give you the option to reuse your towels and washcloths so they have fewer loads to wash. This makes sense to me. But, when it comes to linen on the bed, I expect a different level of scrutiny. I don’t enjoy being greeted by hair, ink marks, blood or dead bugs (all of which I’ve seen) when I pull back the covers. Please save us all the hassle and just put fresh sheets on the bed.
And, for sanity’s sake, PLEASE change the comforter more than once a quarter. People thrown them on the floor, and put their shoes, pets, naked bums and suitcases on them. The last sensory experience I want before drifting off to sleep is the sight and smells of food stains, cigarette burn holes and sex juices. Grrrrrr!
6. BONUS: THE SNAILS IN THE EXPERT LANE [Crystal]
I understand that some travelers, out of necessity, operate at different paces. To account for these differences, in many airports, TSA has been kind enough to institute security lanes for casual travelers, for experts, and for families or those carrying medical liquids. Of the options available, the expert line used to be the fastest and most efficient. (Note my use of the past tense.)
As a frequent flier who almost exclusively travels with carry-on luggage, I hate jumping in the expert lane to discover that it’s the slowest-moving one in security.
To my fellow travelers, I beg of you, please learn the unspoken rules governing security lanes. The expert lane is not the take-your-sweet-time-because-I-have-3-hours-to-kill lane, nor is it the I-am-trying-to-avoid-paying-for-checked-bags-so-I-am-flooding-security-with-multiple-80-lb-bags-masquerading-as-carryons lane. And, it’s definitely not for those trying to hide bottles of water, large toiletries and any other contraband discovered the three times TSA had to xray your bags.
If you’re the kind of traveler who makes good use of the long wait in line and are ready by the time you reach the conveyor belt — pockets emptied, laptops out, shoes off, and baggies full of fluids ready for inspection — you’re welcomed to enter the expert lane any time you want. For everyone else, please reflect on the rules, identify your own airport habits and consider the other available options. Remember no SNAILS allowed. 🙂
Thanks for indulging our sarcastic rants as we reflected on the things we like about travel. Admittedly, its a trivial list in comparison to all the great things travel offers. But, we hope you received it with same light-hearted spirit that it was intended. Even more, we hope you’ll join in the fun by sharing your own list of travel pet peeves. Scroll down to the comments and let her rip!
Chelle & Crys