by Teah Strandjord
I have to admit, there is something about a well-traveled man that drips with the essence of the “gentleman”, and fortunately this is most of you, thanks to the invention of the airplane and Expedia. You arrive with the scent of someplace far off on your clothes (or the reek of jet fuel and airports), and with stories of interesting experiences on your mind (hopefully more civilized than a debaucherous weekend in Vegas with the boys). But any Joe can buy a plane ticket and fumble his way around the globe, right? Enter the mannerly traveler, and whisk me away to Paradise.
The first sign of this fantastic man comes in $1’s and $5’s (sometimes $10’s and $20’s if you’re generous, or if you have a lot of baggage). Yes, the mannerly traveller knows that he will tip appropriately along the way, and begins his journey with the necessary cash in his wallet. Who do you tip? The taxi driver, curbside baggage check, the valet, the bellhop, waiters and waitresses, the tour guide, and anyone else who gives you exceptional service.
The second trait of this debonair delight is in his preparation. He packed well, and takes to the road with ease as his needs are organized (furthermore arriving dapper and appropriate for the location and climate of his final destination). His carry-on luggage fits in the overhead compartment (a roller board that he will place into the bin with the wheels out). He checked-in for his flight on-line, and included a frequent flyer number as he intends to accumulate miles for more travel. He has called for a taxicab or car ahead of time, and arranged ground transportation for anyone travelling with him (possibly a lady?). His passport or driver’s license and boarding pass are in an easily accessible location, and he starts his trek off on the right foot with easy-to-remove shoes for the security check (lace up boots, bad idea).
But above all, the mannerly traveller is courteous.
The travel scene can become a place for the ostentatious, with elite status emblazoned to the breast of his jacket, pushing people aside in a child-like “me-first” manner. I shudder to think of the times I’ve watched the hurried delinquent take his tardiness out on the people of the service industry. Or the boorish dictator scream at his taxicab driver. Travelling is stressful, indeed, but that’s abuse. Be kind to those who are there to help you reach your final destination.
Yes - be kind, win hearts, and get your way. To the taxicab driver, say thank you. To the person at the information desk, say please. To the concierge, be friendly. If there is a woman struggling with her bags, lift them for her. If an employee doesn’t speak English well, be patient. It is so attractive, and a pleasure to witness happy travelers. In contrast, some of my life’s most embarrassing moments have involved temper tantrums in the security line.
If that security line is unfamiliar and travel is not yet your regular routine, I have good news. You needn’t be a corporate jetsetter living “up in the air” to meet the qualification of the savvy traveler that I have in mind. You also needn’t be a canvas-pant-wearing vagabond traversing the rural roads of Guatemala on a steamy bus full of chickens. But some effort to get out of the city you call home and experience the offerings of different locations is an attractive quality beyond measure, and will enrich your life in more ways than one. For ideas, visit www.wanderfly.com.
Finally, as long as you’re making the effort to see the world (or the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio), you should travel with the mannerly traveler’s style. I assure you, heads will turn. And you will enjoy your time.