27 Worst Bus Travel Faux Pas: Are You Guilty?

Bus Travel Faux Pas

Key takeaways 

Contents hide

Respect Personal Space: Whether it’s overhead luggage placement or seat reclining, always be mindful of the comfort of fellow passengers.

Keep Noise Levels Down: Use headphones for music or videos, and keep phone conversations at a moderate volume.

Maintain Cleanliness: Dispose of trash properly, avoid eating smelly foods, and use restrooms responsibly.

Follow Bus Guidelines: Adhere to health protocols, respect scheduled stops, and listen to driver or staff instructions.

Practice Safety: Always use mandatory seat belts, avoid distracting the driver, and be aware of emergency exits.

Explore our Bus Safety Guide


Inter-city buses have long been a lifeline for many, bridging the gap between towns and cities, making travel accessible and affordable. For some, it’s a means to visit family, for others, it’s a way to commute to work or explore new places. Regardless of the reason, when we step onto a bus, we enter a shared space. A space where, for the duration of our journey, we coexist with strangers, each with their own destinations, stories, and quirks. It’s a unique experience, one that can be either pleasant or trying, depending largely on the behavior of our fellow passengers. This blog aims to shed light on some of the most annoying Bus Travel Faux Pas behaviors encountered on these journeys, not to point fingers, but to foster understanding and promote a more harmonious travel experience for all.

Personal Space Violations

In the confined space of a bus, respecting personal boundaries becomes paramount. Yet, it’s surprising how often this unspoken rule is flouted. Let’s delve into some of the most common ways personal space is compromised on inter-city buses and form some of the worst travel faux pas and how to tactfully address them.

Overhead Luggage Mismanagement

 The overhead compartments in buses are designed to accommodate the luggage of all passengers efficiently. However, when bags are carelessly placed or forced into spaces too small for them, it can lead to a domino effect. Other passengers’ items might be squished, damaged, or pushed out of place. Additionally, improperly secured luggage can fall during the journey, posing a risk to passengers below.

 If you notice someone struggling with their luggage or placing it carelessly, you might offer assistance or suggest a better spot. A polite approach could be, “Excuse me, I noticed our bags might be better placed if we rearrange them a bit. Would you mind if we try that to ensure they’re secure?”

Seat Reclining Without Checking

 The ability to recline one’s seat on a bus is a feature meant to enhance comfort, especially during long journeys. However, a sudden and unexpected recline can be startling for the person seated behind. It can lead to spilled drinks, discomfort if they’re using a laptop, or even minor injuries.

 Before reclining, it’s courteous to inform the person behind. A simple, “Excuse me, I’m thinking of reclining my seat a bit. Is that alright?” can make a world of difference. If someone else has reclined without notice, a gentle approach like, “I understand you’d like to recline, but it caught me off guard. Would you mind adjusting it slowly?”

Spreading Out

 As buses can get crowded, every bit of space becomes valuable. When passengers stretch their legs into aisles or place bags on empty seats, it can hinder movement and deny others a place to sit. While it’s natural to seek comfort, it’s essential to be aware of how our actions impact others.

If someone is occupying more than their share of space, a considerate approach can help. Saying something like, “Excuse me, I noticed there’s limited space, and I was wondering if you could move your bag/legs a bit? It would really help. Thank you!” can be effective.

Misbehavior at the Luggage Storage Area

The storage compartment beneath an inter-city bus is designed to accommodate the luggage of all passengers. However, issues arise when passengers carelessly shove bags, potentially damaging others’ belongings, or when they block access while taking their time to retrieve or store their luggage, causing delays and contribute to some of the Worst Bus Travel Faux Pas.

 If you notice someone being inconsiderate in the storage area, a polite approach can help. “Excuse me, I noticed our bags might be better placed if we rearrange them a bit. Would you mind if we try that to ensure they’re secure and everyone can access their belongings easily?” Or, “I see you’re getting your bags; would you mind moving to the side once you’re done so others can access their luggage too? Thank you.”

By being mindful at the luggage storage area and considering the needs of fellow passengers, everyone can ensure a smoother start and end to their journey.

Noise Disturbances

The ambiance inside an inter-city bus is a delicate balance. For many, it’s a rare moment of respite, a chance to relax or focus. However, noise disturbances can easily shatter this peace. Here’s a closer look at common sources of noise and how to tactfully address them.

Loud Personal Music or Video Playback

 The convenience of smartphones and tablets has made it easier than ever for passengers to bring their entertainment on board. While this is great for the individual, it can become a problem when the sound escapes from their earbuds or when they forget to use headphones altogether. This not only disrupts the quiet environment but can also impose one’s entertainment choices on others.

 When addressing this, it’s essential to be non-confrontational. A suggestion might be, “Excuse me, I’ve noticed your device’s volume, and it seems like a great show/song! Would you mind using headphones or turning the volume down a bit? It would help maintain the quiet ambiance of the bus. Thank you for understanding.”

Loud Conversations, In-Person or Over the Phone

 Conversations are a natural part of any journey. However, on a bus, the confined space can amplify voices, making private conversations public. This is especially true for phone conversations, where the one-sided nature can be even more distracting to fellow passengers.

 When approaching someone about this, it’s helpful to be empathetic. You might say, “Hi, I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. It’s quite lively! However, the sound tends to carry in this space. Would you mind speaking a bit softer or perhaps continuing the call later? I’d really appreciate it.”

Constantly Ringing Alarms or Notifications

 In today’s digital age, our devices are an extension of ourselves, constantly buzzing with notifications, reminders, and calls. While one or two sounds might be overlooked, repeated notifications can become a source of irritation for those around.

 A gentle approach is key. Consider saying, “Excuse me, I’ve noticed your device has been alerting quite frequently. We all forget to mute sometimes! Would you mind checking it or perhaps putting it on silent for the journey? It would make the ride smoother for everyone.”

Lack of Cleanliness

A clean environment is essential for a comfortable journey, especially on inter-city buses where passengers spend extended periods. Here’s a closer look at some prevalent cleanliness concerns and how to address them with tact and understanding.

Leaving Trash Behind

 Discarded trash, from snack wrappers to empty drink containers, can quickly accumulate in the shared space of a bus. Not only does this create an unsightly and uncomfortable environment, but it can also pose health risks. Accumulated trash can attract pests, and in the age of heightened health concerns, leaving behind used tissues or food can be particularly concerning.

 If you notice someone leaving their trash, a friendly reminder can often be effective. “Excuse me, I think you might’ve overlooked your trash. We all sometimes forget, but it would be great if we could keep the bus clean for everyone. There’s a bin near the exit.”

Eating Smelly Food

 While everyone has the right to enjoy their meals, certain foods have strong odors that can permeate the enclosed space of a bus. This can be especially bothersome for passengers with sensitivities or allergies. The lingering smell can make the environment unpleasant and even nauseating for some.

 Addressing this requires a delicate touch to avoid offending someone’s food choices. “Hi there, I understand we all get hungry on these long rides, but the aroma from your food is quite potent in this closed space. Would you consider enjoying it during our next stop or in a more open area? I’d really appreciate it.”

Personal Grooming Activities

 Personal grooming, like nail clipping or extensive makeup application, can be disruptive in shared spaces. Activities that release particles, like nail filings or hair from brushing, can be unsanitary. Moreover, the sound of nail clipping or the sight of certain grooming practices can be off-putting to fellow passengers.

 When addressing this, it’s crucial to be respectful and understanding. “Excuse me, I’ve noticed you’re in the middle of your grooming routine. It’s essential for all of us to feel our best, but would you mind doing this in the restroom or waiting until we reach our destination? It might be more considerate for the other passengers.”

Inconsiderate Behavior Towards Fellow Passengers

Inter-city bus journeys can be long, and while everyone seeks comfort, it’s essential to remember that our actions can impact fellow passengers. Here’s a closer look at some behaviors that can be deemed inconsiderate and how to address them tactfully.

Jumping the Queue While Boarding or Alighting

 Boarding and alighting are crucial moments in a bus journey. When passengers don’t wait their turn, it can lead to confusion, delays, and even minor accidents as people bump into each other or trip over luggage.

 If someone is consistently jumping the queue, a gentle reminder can be effective. “Excuse me, I think there’s a line forming for boarding. It might be smoother if we all waited our turn. Thanks for understanding.”

Sitting in a Non-Assigned Seat or Taking Someone’s Window Seat

 On buses with assigned seating, taking someone else’s spot can cause unnecessary confusion and delays. It can be particularly bothersome if a passenger chose a specific seat for personal reasons, like needing extra legroom or preferring a window view.

 If someone is in your assigned seat, approach with understanding. “Hi, I believe I have this seat assigned. Could you please check your ticket? Maybe there was a mix-up. Thank you.”

Taking Over Shared Resources

 Shared amenities, like charging outlets or armrests, are meant for everyone’s convenience. Monopolizing these resources can be inconsiderate, especially on long journeys where multiple passengers might need to charge their devices or seek comfort.

 Addressing this requires a balance of assertiveness and politeness. “Excuse me, I noticed you’ve been using the charging outlet for a while. Would you mind if I used it for a bit? We could perhaps take turns to ensure everyone gets a chance.”

Removing Shoes and Exposing Smelly Socks or Feet

 While it’s natural to seek comfort on a long journey, removing shoes and exposing others to unpleasant odors can be very inconsiderate. The confined space of a bus can amplify such smells, making the environment uncomfortable for fellow passengers.

 This can be a sensitive topic, so it’s essential to approach with care. “Hi, I’ve noticed a strong odor since you removed your shoes. I understand the need for comfort, but would you mind putting them back on? It would help maintain a pleasant environment for everyone.”

Excessive Personal Light Use

 Many inter-city buses come equipped with personal lights for reading or other activities. However, using these lights excessively, especially during nighttime or early morning rides, can disturb passengers trying to rest.

 If someone’s light is bothering you, consider saying, “Excuse me, I noticed your reading light is quite bright from where I’m sitting. Would you mind turning it off when you’re done? It would help me rest better. Thank you.”

Not Controlling Children

 Traveling with children can be challenging, but it’s essential for guardians to ensure their kids don’t disturb other passengers by running in the aisles, screaming, or kicking seats.

 Addressing this requires sensitivity. A possible approach could be, “Hi, I understand traveling with kids can be tough. I’ve noticed they seem to have a lot of energy. Would you mind helping them settle down a bit? It would make the journey smoother for everyone.”

Alcohol or Drug Consumption

 While passengers might consume substances for various reasons, doing so on a bus can lead to disruptive behavior, potential health risks, or even violations of bus company policies. Intoxicated passengers might disturb others, make a mess, or even pose safety concerns.

 If someone appears to be excessively intoxicated or is causing a disturbance, it’s best to inform the bus staff. If you feel comfortable addressing the individual, approach with caution. “Excuse me, I’ve noticed you might’ve had a bit too much to drink. It’s essential for all of us to have a peaceful journey. Maybe you could rest for a bit?”

Bringing Unauthorized Pets or Animals

 While some buses allow pets, they usually have specific guidelines, like using proper carriers. Bringing pets without adhering to these rules can be disruptive, especially if the animal is restless or causes allergies for other passengers.

 If someone has an unauthorized pet, consider informing the bus staff. Alternatively, if addressing the individual, approach with understanding. “Excuse me, I’ve noticed your pet seems a bit restless. Do you have a carrier or something to make them more comfortable? It might help other passengers as well.”

Harassment or Inappropriate Behavior

 Every passenger has the right to a safe and respectful environment. Harassment or inappropriate behavior, whether verbal or physical, is unacceptable and can be traumatic for the victim.

 If you witness or experience harassment, it’s crucial to inform the bus staff immediately. If intervening as a bystander, ensure your safety first. “Hey, I’ve noticed [specific behavior]. It’s essential for all of us to respect each other’s boundaries and ensure a safe journey.”

By addressing these behaviors with tact and understanding, passengers can contribute to a harmonious journey, ensuring everyone’s comfort and well-being.

Disregard for Scheduled Stops

Inter-city buses operate on tight schedules, ensuring passengers reach their destinations on time. Adhering to these schedules is crucial for the smooth operation of the service. However, some behaviors can disrupt this flow. Let’s explore these issues and how to address them tactfully.

Pressing the Stop Button Unnecessarily or Too Frequently

 Buses often have stop buttons that passengers can press to signal the driver to stop at the next station. However, pressing this button without reason or too frequently can confuse the driver, delay the journey, and inconvenience other passengers.

 If someone is repeatedly pressing the stop button without alighting, a gentle reminder might be effective. “Excuse me, I’ve noticed the stop button being pressed often. It might help if we only press it when we’re sure about alighting at the next stop. It ensures the bus stays on schedule for everyone.”

Being Unprepared When the Bus Reaches the Destination

 When a bus reaches a stop, it’s expected that passengers alighting will do so promptly. However, if passengers are unprepared, searching for their belongings, or slowly gathering their luggage, it can cause delays and inconvenience others.

 If someone seems unprepared as the bus approaches a stop, a friendly nudge can help. “It looks like we’re nearing our stop. Need a hand with your bags? It might help speed things up for everyone.”

Misuse of Amenities

Inter-city buses are equipped with various amenities to ensure passengers have a comfortable journey. However, misuse of these facilities can inconvenience others and even damage the bus. Let’s explore some common misuses and how to address them tactfully.

Overusing or Hogging the Restroom

 On long journeys, restrooms are a crucial amenity. However, spending excessive time inside or using it frequently can inconvenience other passengers who might be waiting.

 If someone is consistently occupying the restroom, a gentle reminder might be effective. “Excuse me, there seems to be a line forming for the restroom. If you’re done, could you please make way for others? Thank you.”

Leaving the Toilet Unflushed or Open

 An unflushed toilet or an open restroom door can be unsightly and unsanitary, affecting the overall cleanliness of the bus.

 If you notice this, you can inform the bus staff or, if you feel comfortable, remind the person responsible. “Hi, I think the restroom might’ve been left unflushed/open. It would be great if we could keep it clean for everyone.”

Poor Use of the Restroom Facilities

 Proper use of the restroom is essential for maintaining hygiene and comfort on the bus. Urinating on the floor or not using the facilities correctly can make the environment unsanitary and unpleasant for subsequent users.

 If you notice this, it’s best to inform the bus staff so they can address the issue promptly. If you feel the need to address the individual responsible, approach with sensitivity. “Excuse me, it seems there might’ve been a small accident in the restroom. It would be considerate to ensure we use the facilities properly for the sake of everyone on board.”

Ensuring the proper use of shared amenities is a collective responsibility. By being considerate and addressing issues with tact, passengers can contribute to a more pleasant travel experience for all.

Tampering with Air Conditioning or Window Settings

 Adjusting the air conditioning or opening/closing windows without consulting nearby passengers can affect everyone’s comfort, especially in extreme weather conditions.

 If someone adjusts the settings without asking, a polite request can help. “Excuse me, the air conditioning/window setting was quite comfortable earlier. Would you mind if we kept it that way? Maybe we can find a setting that works for both of us.”

Safety Concerns

While the primary responsibility for safety on inter-city buses lies with the driver and bus company, passengers also play a crucial role. Adhering to safety guidelines and being mindful of one’s actions can prevent accidents and ensure a smooth journey for everyone. Let’s explore some common safety concerns and how to address them tactfully.

Standing or Moving Around While the Bus is in Motion

 Buses, especially when moving at high speeds, can make sudden stops or swerves. Standing or moving around can not only endanger the individual but also other passengers if there’s a sudden jolt.

 If you notice someone frequently moving around, a gentle reminder can be effective. “Excuse me, it might be safer to remain seated while the bus is moving. The roads can be unpredictable, and we wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Distracting the Driver with Unnecessary Conversation or Requests

 The driver’s primary focus should be on the road. Engaging them in lengthy conversations or constantly making requests can divert their attention, increasing the risk of accidents.

 If someone is consistently distracting the driver, consider intervening politely. “I understand you have concerns, but it might be best to discuss them during a stop to ensure the driver can focus on the road. We all want a safe journey.”

Not Using Mandatory Seat Belts

 For inter-city buses, seat belts are not just a safety feature; they are a mandatory requirement. Failing to use them can not only endanger the individual in case of sudden stops or accidents but can also lead to penalties or fines for non-compliance.

 If you notice someone not using their seat belt, a direct yet polite approach is essential. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice you haven’t fastened your seat belt. They’re mandatory on this bus, and it’s crucial for our safety. Would you mind buckling up?”

By being proactive about safety and addressing concerns with understanding and tact, passengers can contribute to a secure and smooth journey for everyone on board.

Not Adhering to Mask or Health Guidelines

 In the context of health concerns like the COVID-19 pandemic, buses might have specific health guidelines, such as wearing masks, maintaining some level of social distancing, or using sanitizers. Ignoring these guidelines can put all passengers at risk and might also violate transportation regulations.

 If someone isn’t following health guidelines, a gentle reminder can be effective. “Excuse me, I’ve noticed you’re not wearing a mask. It’s a requirement on this bus for everyone’s safety. Would you mind putting it on? Thank you.”

Blocking the Aisle with Personal Items

 The aisles in buses are designed for smooth movement of passengers and staff. When bags or other personal items are placed there, it not only becomes a tripping hazard but also restricts movement, causing potential delays during boarding, alighting, or in emergencies.

 If someone’s belongings are obstructing the aisle, a polite request can be effective. “Excuse me, I noticed your bag is in the aisle. For safety and ease of movement, could you please place it under your seat or in the overhead compartment? Thank you.”

Blocking Emergency Exits

 Emergency exits are vital for the safety of all passengers. Storing luggage, standing, or sitting near these exits can block them, posing a significant risk in case of emergencies.

 If you notice someone blocking an emergency exit, it’s essential to address it immediately. “Hi, I’ve noticed the emergency exit seems blocked. Could we clear the path? It’s crucial for everyone’s safety.”

Interfering with Bus Equipment

 Tampering with or misusing bus equipment, such as emergency hammers, doors, or other safety tools, can jeopardize the safety of all passengers.

 If someone is interfering with bus equipment, inform the bus staff right away. If addressing the individual directly, approach with caution. “Excuse me, I think it’s best not to tamper with that equipment. It’s there for our safety.”

By being proactive about safety and addressing concerns with understanding and tact, passengers can contribute to a secure and smooth journey for everyone on board.

Not Following Driver or Staff Instructions

 Bus staff and drivers provide instructions to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers. Ignoring these directives can lead to operational hiccups, safety concerns, or inconvenience for fellow passengers.

 If someone consistently disregards instructions, a gentle reminder can be effective. “Hi, I think the driver mentioned we should [specific instruction]. It might be best if we all follow the guidelines for a smooth journey.”

Explore some more etiquette from across the world.


Traveling by inter-city bus is a shared experience, one that requires mutual respect and consideration from all passengers. While the journey’s primary goal is to get from one place to another, the quality of that journey is shaped by the collective behavior of those on board.

From respecting personal space to adhering to safety guidelines, every action, no matter how small, contributes to the overall travel experience. It’s essential to remember that a few hours of inconvenience can lead to a lifetime of memories, both good and bad. By being self-aware, considerate, and understanding, passengers can ensure that everyone arrives at their destination with positive memories intact.

In an ever-evolving world, where travel has become both a necessity and a luxury, let’s pledge to make every journey a pleasant one, not just for ourselves but for everyone around us. Safe travels!

Leave a Reply