Travel Etiquette Tips from a Local Writer


When San Francisco etiquette coach Lisa Grotts travels, she abides by the John Steinbeck quote "A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it." While on a radio media tour a few years back, Grotts spent so much time in major airports, she began to notice a plethora of travel faux pas, "luggage carts crashing into the shins of others; angry, unhappy passengers; passengers in coach placing their luggage in first, etc. I wrote my first chapter [of the guide] that week!" she says. In November, her compilation of all her travel knowledge, "A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette" hit the shelves.

Grotts stopped by to answer a few questions we had about traveling. If you want to know even more, pick up a copy of her book on Amazon,, or one of several Bay Area bookstores such as Book Passage at the Ferry Building. You can follow her on Twitter at @LisaGrotts.

What's your background as a traveler?

Etiquette is a set of rules that evolve with our culture; they are the rules for social behavior. While I have traveled extensively, the book is about the rules of common courtesy as it relates to travel and ways to make life easier from packing for the trip to airport do's and don'ts to travel safety.

In your opinion, what are the most common bad habits or your own pet peeve other travelers exhibit?

Life is different post 9/11. As a result, air travel is a lot less fun than it used to be. If we could all show a bit more patience going into a trip, everyone's life would be easier. A hot spot for me is security checkpoints. Don't take your shoes off and pull out your ticket and passport when you're about to walk through a security checkpoint. Instead, anticipate your surroundings and be ready ahead of time so the person behind you is not kept waiting. We do this to be courteous to others, and this the same rules applies not just at airports but also at grocery markets and department stores, etc.

How can one be mindful of others while traveling by air?

Aside from reading the book, think the Golden Rule when it comes to travel: Treat others only in ways that you want to be treated.

What's your best tip for travelers to have the most seamless experience possible?

Exude patience even on the worst of days. Plan your itinerary ahead of time. Be organized. Expect long delays at airports, and be pleasantly surprised for short ones.


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