How to Deal With an Over-chatty Seatmate and Other Annoying Fellow Passengers
You know the types: the over-chatty seatmate, the pre-teen blasting LMFAO at full decibels through his headphones, the log-sawing snorer who doesn't realize he's depriving you of a good flight's sleep. Traveling often means finding yourself exposed to sounds, sights, and stomach-turning stenches you'd rather avoid. Here are a few tips on how to deal with common travel annoyances.
There's something about flying, in particular, that makes some seatmates want to spill their life story. But chatty-passenger syndrome is just as likely to happen aboard Greyhound and Amtrak as at 30,000 feet. It can be particularly annoying when sleep's your main prerogative. In this case, the best offense is a good defense. When you sit down, make it clear you're in your own world by slipping in earplugs or putting on headphones and staring at your mobile device. A brief "I'm so tired, I can't wait to sleep" if the person initiates conversation usually makes your message clear. Another option: Hang eyeshades around your neck, just to further drive home the "Do Not Disturb" point. If Chatty Patty still doesn't take the hint, a simple "I'm sorry, I'd love to talk, but I really need to relax for a few hours " should put an end to it. Looking around the plane/bus/train for an empty row of seats also makes clear your lack of interest in small talk.
A snoring seatmate on a flight or bus is bad enough, but when a lax head jerking your way and the potential for wayward drool enter the equation, it's clear all that deep, snoreful sleep needs to stop. As with a snoring bedmate at home, sometimes all the traveling snorer needs to interrupt the nasal drone pattern is to be jolted from sleep, however unconsciously. Make loud throat-clearing noises to interrupt the person's sleep. Or, if you're on the window seat, tap on the offender to wake him or her up, saying that you need to slip out to use the bathroom or stretch your legs. This interruption can often wake snorers up for good-or at least buy you some time to fall asleep before the log sawing starts back up.
Ambient headphone harassers
Few things are more irritating in confined spaces than having to listen to the tinny drone of someone else's favorite band blasting through earphones. Short of asking the person to turn down the decibels, you can either turn on your own iPod to drown out the ambient sounds or dull the transient treble by inserting earplugs (crumpled tissues work in a pinch) in your ears. If the person sees you doing the latter, all the better-he or she will most likely take the hint and turn down the sounds.
Things like tuna sandwiches and bean burritos smell just fine in the open air, but when the person sitting next to you on a plane goes to unwrap a smelly little snack just before takeoff, you might find yourself wanting to use your airsick bag (the good news is odors become more neutral at altitude-tastes, too). When you see offending food stuff come out, grab a mint or a piece of gum to pop into your mouth: The smell can take the edge off the odor of the food. Applying lip gloss or mentholated lip balm can similarly dilute the stench.
Tray table bangers
Coach seats are miserable enough as it is. But when a restless kid behind you thinks that opening and closing his or her tray table is some sort of game (and the parents are too frazzled to put an end to whatever's keeping their kid entertained), you have every right to politely peek through the space between the seats and ask the parents to intervene. Another way to do this a bit diplomatically is to offer the child a magazine or another distraction from your own stash– that should make it clear to the parents that if they won't find ways to keep their kid from bothering you, you will.
More tips to help you travel better:
How to Find Under the Radar Travel Spots
Group Trips: How to Plan a Smooth Getaway
Flying With Kids: How to Avoid a Cataclysm in Seat 9B
How to Communicate Abroad When You Don't Speak the Local Language
How to Relieve Stress on the Road
How to Hack Your Hotel Room and Make it More Like Home
How to Speed Through Airport Security