Travel Etiquette: Pre- and In-Flight Public Grooming DOs and DON’Ts

by Janine on 13 November 2012 · 10 comments

On the subject of public grooming, oh yes, there is worse than tweezing out your grey hair during a flight. One word: stink. And I’m including perfume in that category.

The thing is that you can get away from the sight of unpleasant public grooming simply by averting your gaze or closing your eyes. That doesn’t work so well for a strong smell, whether it’s an icky perfume, wretched body odour, or peeled bananas (gross).

For me, anyway, the flight response (no pun intended) kicks in so fast that I’m out of my seat before I know what’s happened. I nearly did that yesterday at Pearson when some chippie soaked in some gaggingly-sweet floriental perfume sat next to me in the lounge. Thankfully, she and I were nowhere near each other on our seven-and-a-half-hour flight.

6 be-kind-to-others travel guidelines that some people need (not you though):

1) For the love of God and humanity, take a shower and wash your hair just before you leave on a big trip. Several hours in cramped quarters and recycled air is only going to make the smelly worse. Gah.

2) Load up on anti-perspirant. Travelling is stressful — crowds, long line-ups, mean customs people, irritated fellow travellers, delays, temperature swings from icy cold to insufferably hot… maybe now’s a good time for a clinical-strength anti-perspirant. I don’t care if you hate the stuff, wear it at least when you travel in close quarters with other humans.

3) Skip the perfume. Okay, I confess — I totally sprayed myself yesterday around noon with my obsession, Sunday Cologne eau de parfum by Byredo. But Sunday Cologne doesn’t have a lot of staying power; I knew that by the time I hit the airport at 5:30, there’d be no trace of the scent on my skin. And in that airport lounge, I refrained from revenge-spraying myself with the tester I keep in my purse because I also know this truth: although I swoon over Sunday Cologne, someone else might find it as offensive as I find vanilla/gourmand/oriental/floriental scents.

4) Wear clean or freshly laundered clothing. If you’ve ever been in a taxi driven by a stinky driver, you know what I mean. Some people don’t seem to understand that body odour likes to hang around in clothing until it’s been laundered. Doesn’t matter that the body in the clothes has recently bathed — malodorous fabric doesn’t shut up until you drown it in soapy water.

5) If you must pull a Lisa Eldridge and give yourself a spa facial on your flight, at least try to use products that have little or no scent. I made a mistake in bringing a travel-size bottle of Dermalogica Multi-Active Toner. Its fresh scent is quite subtle, but still might be too much for someone seated beside me (thank goodness, empty seat this time). A plain thermal water spray would have been a better choice. (And if you’re on a long flight, wait until the lights are down and folks are asleep to get all skin-primpy.)

6) Brush your teeth. Whether it’s garlic breath or morning breath that happens while you’re still awake — GAH. Fix it.

Have I forgotten any public grooming issues? Beauty etiquette infractions? Other than farts — ewwww.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvia h. 13 November 2012 at 1:43 pm

Colgate makes these fantastic single-use toothbrush thingies called ‘wisp’. AWESOME for flights. I feel guilty about loving them ’cause they aren’t that enviro friendly, but sometimes breathing in the aroma of an airplane washroom while brushing my teeth is not an option.


Janine 21 November 2012 at 6:57 am

I just looked those up. Want for my next trip — thanks for the tip, Sylvia! (Agreed re: airplane washroom. Makes me want to carry a mini tin of Febreze, except my TSA plastic baggies are always too packed to fit something like that in.)


Icaria 14 November 2012 at 8:32 am

I soooo agree with you. Once I was stuck on a plane with no AC for…15 hours!!! Horrible, just horrible. Every seat was taken. :(


Janine 21 November 2012 at 6:57 am

With no AC? For 15 hours?? Oh my goodness. *gag*


Laura 14 November 2012 at 8:39 am

How about the people who like to remove boots/shoes/socks and get all comfy for that flight? I sat next to one small woman who then proceeded to sit cross-legged in her seat (yes she was that tiny, I hate her!). So her stinky feet were less than 3 feet from my face. Fortunately I was in the aisle seat and could lean out and gasp for some fresh air.


Janine 21 November 2012 at 7:06 am

I confess I’ve tried the remove-footwear thing to reduce swelling discomfort, but made sure my socks were clean. And I keep slippers in my carry-on.

My last trip, though, I drank a litre of water before takeoff, and kept my boots on. No swelling at all. I also took a Robax Platinum for a stiff shoulder; it contains Advil, an anti-inflammatory — that probably helped. (I do have a pair of compression socks somewhere, but they aren’t a comfortable fabric. Would rather not swell than have to wear them.)


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