Question: I hate it when people on a bus or train leave stuff on the seat beside them when it’s obvious other passengers are looking for seats. Move your darn bags, already — don’t make people ask you if the seat beside you is taken.
Answer: Couldn’t have said it better myself. If it is clear people are going to need to sit beside strangers — the horror, the horror! — the grown-up thing to do is to move your things before someone asks you to. Actually, if you want etiquette bonus points, move your stuff and offer the newly empty seat to someone who’s looking for one.
Q: My mother’s friend lives in a city that I frequently visit on business. She has mentioned many times that I’m welcome to stay with her whenever I’m in town. Well, I have to go there next week, and apparently there is a huge conference in town. There are literally no hotels available under my per-night budget that don’t look frighteningly sketchy. I know my colleagues are going to ask where I’m staying, though, and I don’t want to say, "With my mom’s best friend," because they’ll tease me. What can I do?
A: You could try looking for a different hotel for each night of your stay. You might have better luck finding hotels with a single night’s availability instead of three or four nights in a row. But if that doesn’t work, I think your choices are stay with your mom’s friend and deal with explaining it, or change the dates of your trip, citing the conference.
Actually, I think you might get some brownie points for being willing to stay with your mom’s friend. "Oh, there’s some sort of enormous convention in town, and all the hotels were booked except for the Ritz but I know these are really important meetings, so I decided to stay with a family friend instead of skipping them," makes you sound like a dedicated employee.
Email travel etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at email@example.com.