A travel footprint is the impact you make in your travels. As a flight attendant, I got to see the best of people and the worst. With the recent uptick in travel, many travelers seem to be leaving footprints less than desirable. Here are a few ways that you may unknowingly leave a negative travel footprint behind.
The Covid virus exemplifies how much of a footprint we leave behind unknowingly. We are urged to wash and sanitize our hands often. It’s one of the first things I do when I leave a public space, and especially when I board an airplane. Airplanes can fly an average of four roundtrip flights per day. There is no way for a traveler to tell who has been sitting in the seat before them. Leaving your seat area in total disarray is not a footprint you want to leave behind. Try to hand off your trash to a flight attendant. Do not leave trash stuffed into your seatback pocket or lying around on the floor.
Similarly, when you go to a hotel. Know that someone must clean behind you. There have been so many times when I have passed an open hotel room door and been amazed at how the guests have left the room. Leaving such a footprint is partly the reason why hotels have a check-in time after noon or later. It takes a lot to clean a hotel room after it’s been trashed, and the people who are waiting for that room want it to be as spotless as they expect.
When vacationing, travelers expect to be catered to and treated well. Try to leave a positive footprint with the people who serve you. Say please and thank you to staff. Acknowledge others around you and how your actions and behavior affect them. Be kind to wait staff and be gratuitous when possible. Having been in the service industry for many years, I know how much an appreciative and considerate customer can impact someone’s day.
Travelers should always respect personal space. Taking your shoes off and resting your feet in someone else’s space is just rude. Be courteous and keep your feet in your space. Most travelers know it’s difficult for small children and toddlers to be still in a confined space. However, allowing children to kick the seat in front of them as entertainment is disrespectful. Giving toddlers food to play with and not cleaning up after them is also ill-mannered.
We all expect an airplane to take us to our destination, and it usually does. However, all travelers must consider that there may be extended delays where you spend much more time with your seatmate than anticipated. Some delays will have passengers together for quite a lengthy time, and if your footprint is less than favorable, this can be a very uncomfortable time. In worst-case scenarios of turbulence or unplanned landings, sometimes your fellow passengers become an essential connection. Try to leave favorable first impressions.
Have you thought about the travel footprint you leave behind? I’d like to know.