Keeping personal boundaries when you travel.

Keeping personal boundaries when you travel.

Establishing your personal boundary can be a challenge when traveling as you have to share communal space. However, understanding your and other people’s boundaries is important to having positive traveling experiences.

Travelers must remember that cultural norms often define someone’s perception of personal space, and people will have different sets of meanings and values. When traveling, remember that even though norms are different, you do not have to accept any interaction that violates your personal boundary.

It is important to make sure your boundaries are respected but is it equally important to respect them in others. Your actions and words may be innocent in your personal relationships yet could be construed as rude and offensive to your fellow traveler.

While many may understand the word “no” to mean exactly that, some people and cultures may believe that a no will eventually lead to a yes. Be clear in your interactions when traveling so that there is no question about your meaning or intent.

Remember that being kind and being nice are not the same. Being kind involves being considerate and respectful to others while being nice usually means giving more consideration to others than ourselves. Often, being nice crosses your personal boundary, be kind and say no.

Finally, keep in mind the role of stereotyping in our interactions, especially for women of color who are often seen as exotic and more sexually permissive than other women.

Have you experienced any issues in keeping your personal boundary when you’ve traveled? I’d like to know.

5 Flight attendant annoyances

5 Flight attendant annoyances

There are many things that flight attendants find annoying. Some are more annoying than others, and some may not be an annoyance based on the individual flight attendant. The following are some that I still remember as being annoying to me. For disclosure, these are from my lived experience as a flight attendant.

1.Coffee: Having been raised and based in New York as a flight attendant, if a passenger said, “regular coffee,” I understood it to mean coffee with milk and sugar. If they said, “light and sweet,” I like most flight attendants had no idea how light to make the coffee or how many sugar packets the passenger needed. Some passengers meant just a drop of milk, and others wanted half milk, half coffee. Deciding how many packs of sugar meant sweet to a person you’d never met was a pointless guess at best. Like passengers, flight attendants are people from all over the country and the world; knowing each passenger’s specific coffee requirements was most times an exercise in futility.

2.Aisle Passengers. Most passengers prefer aisle seats because of the ability to have a little extra room. This preference was often a perception that overlooked the fact that the aisle they assumed to be extra space was the flight attendant’s working space. Airline service carts could be a hundred pounds or more and somewhat challenging to maneuver. Weighted down with beverages or food to serve the number of people on board, often proved a challenge for a flight attendant to operate. Aisle passengers often extended their body parts into the aisle, and it was not uncommon for the cart to inadvertently hit a passenger. In many cases, the passenger got angry at the flight attendant without considering that the service cart was at least 3 feet long and even higher. Hence, the flight attendant seeing over the cart, and the extended body part was unreasonable at best.

3.Touching. Passengers often think it is ok to touch or poke a flight attendant to get their attention, which is often very annoying to flight attendants. A flight attendant call light is within every passenger’s reaching distance, and using this is much preferable than to be poked. Moreover, a hand wave or similar gesture is universal regardless of language. Having your body nudged several times a flight could be rather annoying.

4.Lavatory doors. They are not automatic, and standing in front of them will not make them open. Often passengers would stand in the lavatory area waiting for flight attendant instructions on how to open the door or be told whether it was vacant or not. Bathroom doors, like every other bathroom door elsewhere, has a lock. Unlike most bathrooms, airplane bathrooms have instructions, and most often, if not in the native language, there is visual signage. Along with signage, airline lavatories also have an occupied/unoccupied sign, which in most cases are red and green and are universally understood to mean the same everywhere. To be seen as a bathroom attendant is very frustrating to flight attendants.

5.Asking “where are we?” Flight attendants walk up and down the aisle, usually positioned several feet above the window level. Furthermore, like most passengers, they cannot pinpoint locations 30,000 feet above the ground. Yes, several landmarks are apparent to some, but flight attendants do not have the luxury of sitting and looking out the window on flights, nor do they have an inner GPS. Your guess is as good as theirs.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse behind the scenes. These are perceptions of my lived and actual experience as a flight attendant. I hope they’ve been eye-opening and will make for more happy travels.

Your choice to travel is yours alone.

Your choice to travel is yours alone.

For years I have had to battle the question of my travel experiences. When it was professional, it was “how can you leave your kids?” When it was personal it was again about the kids and whether I should put their needs first. Recently the question was “what about Covid?”

There will always be questions no matter your choice. The only right choice is the inner choice you make and life is too short not to put yourself first.

I always choose me! This might seem selfish, but I cannot be a good mother, wife, or friend if I am stressed out and unhappy. I have learned that more now since becoming an empty nester than ever before. My kids are grown, and I honestly believe that they would not have me make any different choices than the ones I made. Of course, they have not always been happy with my choices, but at the end of the day, I have.

You can be replaced easily at work, marriages fail, children grow up, and tomorrow is never promised. Life is too short not to travel, not to take a vacation, not to get a massage, not to put yourself first. Choosing to travel is a gift to yourself that you can open as many times as you desire. My choice is to travel, it’s the gift I give to myself.

Have you ever been judged for your choice to travel? Let me know in the comments. I bet I’m not alone.

Assumptions, travel bias, and micro-aggression.

Assumptions, travel bias, and micro-aggression.

I spent twenty-three years in the airline industry as a flight attendant. Many of those first years I was often the only person of color on the crew. Therefore, my experiences in being looked at differently have been more than eye-opening.

My career started in the late ’80s and people of color travelers were not as prevalent as they now are. As a flight attendant, I had the privilege of standby travel, which meant I flew somewhat free, but that meant I got any seat not taken by a paying passenger (more on another blog post). Often it was the dreaded middle seat, the least desired seat near the restroom, or even on a flight attendant jumpseat, which is often right next to the restroom. I traveled plenty but not often comfortably.

As I began to travel more for pleasure than work, I often chose to fly in premium cabins. I had often heard the refrain “you get there at the same time so why does it matter?” My choice had a lot to do with the fact that in a premium cabin I could expect the type of service I paid for, or in some cases demand it. I say demand because often while traveling as a person of color, there appear to be assumptions that people of color don’t deserve service, much less premium service.

There were many times when the announcement was made for premium cabin boarding, and I would be almost pushed out of the way or looked over by others who did not expect me to be in a premium cabin. Gate agents would often look at me and reiterate the boarding announcement as if I was hard of hearing. Flight attendants would demand to see my boarding card if I paused in the premium cabin to put my bags away. The many acts of travel bias and microaggression often left me with a less than pleasant travel experience.

Have you had similar experiences? If not a person of color, have you ever noticed it? I’d love to hear about your experiences and your thoughts.

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