A Travel Tip I Don’t Need to Give You — But If You Don’t Know It, It’s REALLY Important

When readers shared their own travel tips and several really stood out as worth highlighting.

Here’s one that seemed too obvious to mention, and then I thought about the controversy surrounding some other basic hygiene and etiquette advice.

Elizabeth said,

Always wear shoes when visiting an airplane lavatory. That wet floor isn’t necessarily just water…

Let me take this even further.

  • Always wear socks through airport security. This isn’t just my preference not to see male toes, and women this means you too.
  • Recommending shoes in the airplane lavatory sort of implies you’d need to put the shoes back on, that you had otherwise taken them off.
  • That’s fine, but may I suggest if the airline gives you a blanket in a shrink wrap bag to open it and put that on the floor in front of your seat at your feet?
  • And use any airline-provided slippers in an international premium cabin. Airline socks are better than nothing but insufficient, i think.

Have you ever seen anyone go into an airline lavatory without shoes or slippers on? Yuck.

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Glad to see UA and others providing actual slippers v. those useless socks. Here’s a travel tip: I always pack an extra pair of those free hotel slippers in the outer pocket of my carryon. They come out right after I board. But be mindful of tip #2 – never remove your shoes until the plane has safely reached cruising altitude. You never know when you might have to make an early exit (see e.g. US Airways hudson river landing)

  2. I have gone into airplane lavs barefoot before. Urine doesn’t really bother me because for the vast majority of people it comes out sterile. It’s not a conscious decision, just something I don’t really worry about.

  3. I have seen it, multiple times. Once it was the woman sitting next to me (very hippie-ish), and she kept putting her feet up on the window ledge, the seat back, and a few times, accidentally, on me. UGH!!!!

  4. I live in Phoenix, AZ and I travel often in the summer…..because…..well, its as hot as hades here and I need OUT. Please pardon me, but when its 118 degrees outside, you won’t find me wearing socks. Besides, the state shoe of Arizona is the flip flop, and we don’t let you in unless you have at least 10 pairs.

  5. “Always wear shoes when visiting an airplane lavatory. That wet floor isn’t necessarily just water…”

    Now we know why this blog is Number 1.

    I’m putting my shoes back on now…

  6. Agree with all the bathroom comments, but I have no qualms about wearing flip flops through security. What’s going to get on my feet in the 30 seconds that I’m standing there in bare feet that I can’t handle? It’s just a bare floor, it’s probably cleaner than a lot of other places you could walk around barefoot.

  7. Had the misfortune of being on a particularly nasty SFO-HKG flight in CX economy. Someone had managed to piss all over the toilet floor in the first 30 minutes of the flight. I don’t mean they missed because of turbulence – I mean they ignored the fact that there was a toilet and went all over the floor. I opened the door and there was a puddle. It was sloshing back and forth. It had depth.

    I used another toilet, but other people didn’t, and of course ended up tracking urine all over the cabin floor. Midway through the flight, the toilet hadn’t been cleaned, but the floor was a sticky mess – which meant the liquid that used to be there, was now in fact elsewhere in the cabin. 14 hours. Ugh.

    I flew back on an award ticket in CX first with an empty cabin and had two toilets to myself. What a contrast.

  8. I wear flip flops as often as my lifestyle allows. I make no apologies for that, and do it happily. They are my feet, and I am not the least bit concerned about the relative cleanliness of the floor at security.

  9. Not on an airplane, but does anyone remember back when Britney Spears was crazy, and she was photographed coming out of a gas station bathroom barefoot?

  10. Airplanes bathroom are nasty!!!! I try not to use them if I can (domestic flights). On international flights I may go there wearing airplane socks and usually put them in the trash before landing

  11. Just to play devil’s advocate; Some people don’t care what happens down by their feet. They could step in dog shit, and they wouldn’t care. Just hose that crap off and continue. Their feet are far away from their mouth and nose and face.

  12. Urine might normally be sterile, but have you ever heard of urinary tract infections? And it makes for a great medium for all those bacteria on floor to take a joy ride on your feet and back to the cabin – all you need is a cut on your feet…

  13. BrwerSEA:

    I don’t know you from Adam, but based on your post, you are gross. You probably don’t wash your hands after using the wc, either.

  14. Brewer is right, urine is sterile, and if that was all you came in contact with then no worries. HOWEVER, assume the entire lavatory is covered in a thin layer of excrement, which is how disease is spread. Wash your hands then don’t touch anything except with a paper towel, especially handles and door knobs. And guys, just sit down and don’t try to aim on a moving plane.

  15. I am almost always in heels but keep a pair of socks in my laoptop bag for airport security. Pretty easy to just throw them on for security and then take them off, zip them into my carry-on, and put my shoes back on.

  16. I’m glad to second Boraxo’s comment about keeping shoes on until the plane is safely off the ground.

    After an emergency landing, with debris all over the tarmac and loose shoes lost in the plane, running around barefoot would really slow escaping pax down.

  17. We always travel with baby wipes and flip-flops. After security we clean up our feet. In flight the flip-flops are always on.

  18. @Joey: “Even in the Emirates A380 First Class showerspa?”

    When you travel, I would recommend wearing rubber flip flops to all showers which could have been used by strangers: hotels, lounges, and of course airplane. 🙂

  19. I wear my reversible silk robe I had made in Thailand. Blues and golds are really flashy.

    Nobody notices I’m in tennis shoes going into the bathroom.

    I actually discard socks if I have to wear them through security. I change them right after getting my carry on.

  20. Borax is correct..I still have that photo in my mind when our engine blew in ORD and the FA telling ppl to run away from the plane…

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