Get a Load of My Travel Related Grievances – Are You With Me or Not?

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Travel Related Grievances

My Travel Related Grievances – Are They Common, Or Am I Alone Here?

Road trips and staycations are the primary travel styles for my family and me currently.  Our trips tend to be net positive experiences, but periodically I have travel grievances (unrelated to my family members, of course).  I don’t act on these in the moment, but they stick with me.  I feel like Larry David and I would be good travel partners, but, indeed, we’d probably get sick of each other.  Recently, I took a quick solo road trip – one where I experienced multiple of below.  I figure it’s a great time to go over my top travel related grievances while a few of them are fresh.  Are you with me, or am I way off here?  Let me know!

Pajamas at Hotel Breakfast People

Maybe I missed when sleepwear became a reasonable choice for travelers to sport in public, particularly among strangers eating breakfast.  I manage my expectations here, knowing that I’ll probably see this more over weekend stays and certain hotels.  But increasingly, I’ve found this pajama preference stretches out more widely.  I can identify a bit with the “I’m paying to stay here, and I’d like to do what I want” logic, but not when it can negatively impact other guests’ experiences.  It’s as if pajama breakfast people somehow equate this public area with the privacy of their room.  Bravo to hotels who at least place signs stating pajamas aren’t allowed, but I’ve hardly ever seen it enforced.  After all, many hotel employees are practically incapable of enforcing such a policy.

Travel Related Grievences

The Airline Gate Boarding Area Is My Personal Lounge People

Many have heard of the term “gate lice.”  Flyers, often those with elite status (and who want you to know so), crowd the boarding area well before pre-boarding announcements are made.  I’m darkly intrigued to watch the mental domino effect said individuals create.  More people start getting in line, because surely there must be an important reason that first passenger is queueing up early.  And others hurriedly rush up to the line, because who wants to be at the back of it?  It gets worse.  Pair this with some of our beautiful domestic airports, which often amount to long hallways appearing to house unfinished conference rooms full of justifiably grumpy travelers.  Yes, I’m talking about you, Washington Dulles, but many others are out there.

A close relative of these people are the supposedly “confused during boarding” people.  Gate agents call numeric boarding groups, and often someone with a Group 5 boarding pass shows up during Group 1 or 2.  Once (or if) the gate agent challenges the traveler, the individual acts confused, as if they didn’t hear the boarding announcement, or swearing that the gate agent called Group 5.  Generally, three possible outcomes occur for such passengers, two in their favor:

  1. The gate agent acquiesces, allowing the individual to board early.
  2. Instead, the gate agent corrects the individual, but he/she decides to wait at the boarding location, effectively cutting ahead of everyone else in his/her boarding group.
  3. The gate agent corrects the individual, and the individual clears the immediate boarding area (the most infrequent of these three, in my experience).

Travel Related Grievances

The Passing Lane Is All Mine People

I frequently experience this one during road trips, but periodically during everyday life, as well.  I most recently felt it on I-95.  Many drivers love camping out in the far left passing lane going the exact speed limit or below.  Maybe they want a mental break from the right lane, which often involves (gasp) active driving engagement with others merging in.  Such individuals can singlehandedly control the flow of traffic, which most often ends up being much slower.

From my perspective, these drivers predominantly fall into one of two categories.  The completely ignorant drivers who don’t know that the far left lane is primarily for passing and immediately moving over.  The other category?  The drivers who have deputized themselves as the speed cop for the given highway.  I’m generally not in a rush when I road trip, but I do like to make an acceptable time during a drive.  I often do so from the far right lane!

Slick Southwest Seating People

I usually board planes at the last possible moment, primarily because I pack light and only travel with an underseat bag.  So I don’t have this grievance often.  But every now and then, I board earlier, where I notice the strategies of certain Southwest flyers obviously traveling with others boarding separately.  Or maybe they hope no one sits next to them at all!  These are individuals sitting in one seat, spreading their baggage across one or two others, and doing their best to avoid eye contact with anyone else subsequently boarding.  If another passenger wants one of these often-better seats, the onus is on that traveler to ask the trickster to make room.  All of a sudden, the later-boarding passenger is somehow the unreasonable one!  In my experience, no one asks for the preferred seat and everyone continues to less desirable seating.  That’s just uncool of those seat thieves.

Hotel breakfast, especially at limited service properties, can become a mess if too many people bring their luggage with them.

Luggage at Hotel Breakfast People

Okay, If I haven’t lost you yet, I may lose you with this grievance.  No one else with Miles to Memories agrees with me here!  I just experienced this on my recent solo trip.  After I settled down for my breakfast, two individuals, each with full, check-in size suitcases were seated immediately next to me.  The exercise involved moving multiple tables and predominantly blocking walkways.   And one individual wasn’t eating – perhaps their breakfast was in the suitcase.  I continued enjoying my leisurely breakfast, but I did have to carefully yet awkwardly slide by the strangers with a minimal walkway.  I don’t think my full breakfast belly was the only thing making the process challenging.

Of course, I accept that people have day bags, purses, backpacks, etc that can be reasonably accommodated in restaurants.  And luggage in restaurants primarily annoys me when I’m stuck immediately next to the offenders.  I know I sign up for this squeeze, given I often stay in limited-service hotels with relatively small breakfast areas.  But so many alternatives exist for these travelers beyond playing Frogger with their suitcases at breakfast.  From my perspective, not bringing suitcases to breakfast can work out great for them.  Here are just a few possibilities:

  1. Wake up a few minutes earlier to eat and return to your room for the bags prior to checkout.  (I do this since I want to brush my teeth, anyway.)
  2. If you must bring your bags down, ask the front desk or bellman to store them temporarily.  It’s easier than you may think!
  3. Drop the bags in your car on the way to breakfast.

Flip-Flops Are Great For Flights People

Flying, especially domestically, can be an unpleasant experience.  We’re getting into a tight metal tube without any specific assurance of when we’ll get out of it.  Let’s not make it unnecessarily tougher on ourselves and others.  When I see flip-flops on flights, they’re usually unoccupied on the ground.  The bare feet of the flip-flops owner are usually propped up, on themselves or airplane equipment, and closer to at least one other passenger’s eye and nose level.  By the way, there is absolutely no reasonable escape from the individual in the immediate future.  I enjoy talking to fellow travelers on flights occasionally, but I never want to get bare feet-close on a flight.  To be clear, I’m a flip-flops owner.  I enjoy them primarily at my local beach, around the house, and in hotel rooms.  But I don’t consider them an acceptable option on flights, and I don’t believe others should, either.

Travel Related Grievances – Conclusion

Okay, many of you are metaphorically throwing tomatoes at me by now, so I’ll stop here.  Sharing my travel related grievances, whether anyone agrees or not, has been cathartic.  These grievances notwithstanding, I’m still captivated by the romance of travel.  Big picture, everything I mentioned is trivial and not worth dwelling on, anyway.  On a whole, my family and I come out ahead.  So much of the travel process seems to involve just “getting by”, and travelers do what they need (maybe several of above) to more easily manage it.  Grace isn’t always top of mind – we should all practice it more, myself included.  Anyway, I’ll try to be all sunshine and rainbows with my next article.  What are your biggest travel related grievances?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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    • Mike,
      Hasn’t happened to me recently, but I’m not surprised people are experiencing this. Hang in there!

  1. “Wake up a few minutes earlier to eat and return to your room for the bags prior to checkout. (I do this since I want to brush my teeth, anyway.)” Or, as I saw once, they have their suitcases with them and then proceed to brush teeth in the breakfast area.

  2. You would have loved me, then, the time I had to take my cat to an out of town specialist. I wasn’t going to leave him alone in the room to freak out, so his carrier joined me for a quick breakfast. Actually, multiple people came over to say hi to him.

  3. The thing with the gate lice is partly the airports’ fault, in that, there just isn’t enough seating in the gate area to match the number of seats on the plane. How many times have you arrived to the gate only to find nearly every seat taken? There may be a few single seats still open, but more or less, it’s standing room only. And there’s really nowhere to stand where you’re not in someone’s way, other than in front of the boarding area, which is always the most open area of the gate. So naturally, people will gravitate to the most open area.

    • Aaron,
      Great point. The sad state of domestic airports is another huge issue and negatively affects a lot. And your comment jogged my memory of another travel related grievance (similar to the Southwest one above) – people at gates who take up seats with their baggage.

      • You took the words out of my mouth. I hate when folks don’t that. But have no fear as I have no problem asking them to move their bag.

  4. How about hotel staff who lie or mislead you because they are afraid to be honest? I’m at a Hilton right now, a Diamond member. One front desk person tells me I can get free breakfast or $12 credit for food and beverage. I choose breakfast and am told it’s from 8 to 11. Super, I show up at 10am and no breakfast, kitchen closed until the weekend. Different front desk person apologizes and says I can use the $12 credit at the restaurant from Noon to 3pm. No problem, I show up at 1:30 and the restaurant is closed. Front desk manager says restaurant is only open Thursday thru Sunday. This Hilton is not a large hotel at all. Could employees be that badly trained? I think they know better but don’t want to be honest because then they’d have to figure out how to fix your problem. I suspect many elites don’t complain and Hilton gets lots of breakage. In the past year I’ve been at 3 Hiltons domestically and had similar issues at all 3. Internationally, no such problem.

    • Frank,
      Ouch – I’m sorry you’re going through this currently. My unsolicited advice is to get the name of each person you speak with and take notes of each interaction. If not before, share your experiences when you’re at checkout and are asked how your stay has been. Matter of factly go through each situation, requesting a higher level of management, if necessary. Good luck!

  5. You forgot “people who don’t use headphones”. No one wants to hear your music or your FaceTime chat at 5:30am in the airport.

  6. I disagree with you on the luggage. I always bring it with me, since it is more efficient.

    I have never seen anyone with pjs at breakfast thankfully. Sorry, even kids unless they are an infant shouldn’t wear pjs to any restaurant.

    My pet peeve, anyone who thinks they can listen to anything on a screen without a headset. It’s as if the notion of a headset never occurred to them.

    • Thanks for sharing your pet peeve! I hadn’t thought of that one before or while writing, but it could certainly belong on my list.

  7. My wife and I were staying in Phuket, eating our buffet breakfast when a mainland Chinese urchin who was part of a tour group wandered through the dining area, plucking food from people’s plates, including my wife’s. The kid then meandered over to his own table, where his father belatedly kept him seated after seeing the looks of horror from other tables.

  8. Pajamas at breakfast doesn’t bother me as long as nothing is hanging out (there are usually kids around who don’t need an anatomy lesson from a stranger).

    People who hang around the gate long before their boarding group are just idiots. Sad part is that it’s usually folks with status who operate in such a manner.

    As for Southwest, I get it. Hundreds of thousands of people love them but I just don’t hate myself enough to put up with the boarding process. If Southwest ever allows assigned seats I would give them a try but until then, I’ll deal with other crappy carriers who usually aren’t much better but at least my seat is ready for me regardless of when I get on the plane.

    • 2808 Heavy,
      The way you phrase your comment sounds like you experienced the worst possible outcome of seeing pajama-wearers at breakfast. If so, that’s a tough one.

  9. I’m glad you acknowledge that not everyone agrees with your grievances. Is it the flip flops that bother you or that someone has bare feet?

    • Andy,
      On an airplane – both. It seems like those two things come together most of the time, in my experience.

  10. When I worked, it was quite common for me to bring my rollaboard and briefcase to the place to have breakfast. I would eat and head out. I could care less what people have on as long as I do not smell them. Same goes for the plane, if you wear flip flops or sandels, you are good to go as long as you do not smell. Often times at an airport I walk up and have no idea what zone is boarding so I ask. I could care less whether people stand or sit.

    Me thinks someone has a bug up their…………….. Just roll with it. Alot bigger things to worry about.

  11. I’m with you on all except Southwest. If one cares what seat they will have to sit in, they should probably fly a carrier that will sell them a ticket with a seat number.

    • Rob,
      Good point. By flying Southwest, I’m essentially signing up to tolerate or deal with flyers like this.


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