Have Writer Will Travel: 10 People to Avoid While On the Move

By Rachel Tyner 

Amtrak recently announced its plan to offer “writer’s residencies,” or free rides to writers with the hope that they will then tweet, Facebook, or blog about their experiences. Although the plan is still in its initial stages, it gives hope to writers who are looking for a creative environment in which to produce content. How liberating it would be to travel with no true destination in mind, no deadline for when you have to be there, and at little to no cost to you?

Adam Kirsch explains it perfectly from a writer’s perspective in a recent New Republic post:

“On a train, time and place are suspended in the name of a long-term goal, getting from one place to another; take away that goal and you have as close to a zone of pure freedom as you are likely to find anywhere in the twenty-first century.” 

Besides, there is no better travel than free travel. While I don’t consider myself a writer, I would welcome the opportunity to get a little work in, creatively or otherwise, over the course of a journey with no real end. Unfortunately, my journeys as of late have not been quite so romantic.

Over the past 10 months I have been on 24 different flights. I think this qualifies me as at least an advanced traveler, if not an expert. I have compiled the following list of 10 people you may be familiar with if you frequently travel, and the people you do not want to find yourself seated next to, especially if you are trying to get some writing done.

And no, the person who needs a seatbelt extender did not make this list. Personally, I think a little human-to-human contact is underrated. Besides, I’m a snuggler.

1. Crying Kids

No sound is more annoying than a plane filled with silence pierced by the metallic screams of a fussy baby. I get it, Mom and Dad, you want to travel too. Maybe it’s for a family reunion, maybe you are moving cross country, or maybe you just feel you deserve a vacation. Either way

leave the kid at home with Grandma and Grandpa!

Or at least pack an extra dose or two of Benadryl. One for him and one for me. #zzzzzzzzz

2. Teenagers

If you board a plane and happen to see a group of teenagers (matching t-shirts or uniforms of any kind act as a warning signal) I suggest, no I urge you to de-plane and see a gate agent about switching flights. Spending hours in the skies with a loud obnoxious group of


is annoying, let alone teenagers with bad manners accompanied by only one or two chaperones saying “settle down” once every 15 minutes.

3. PDA Olympians 

Nothing says passion like 400 strangers, $10 canned margaritas, and compression stockings. Save it for the hotel please!

4. Patient Zeroes

As a self-diagnosed hypochondriac and germaphobe, I stiffen with every sniffle, cough, achoo!, and throat clear I hear during a flight. Not even the superpowers of Germ X will protect you from your seatmate sneezing into their hands, quietly wiping their hand on their pants, and then touching the armrest between you. I can actually picture little particles of germs floating around the plane like a poisonous gas.

5. Starkist Sweethearts

I love tuna as much as the next girl, but two words: It. Lingers.

6. Bachelorette Parties

Stop the squealing.

7. Bachelor Parties

I will remind you of this quote from Mrs. Banks in "Mary Poppins:" “Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stupid.” I will also make a blanket statement to all bachelor parties and say: If you are hitting on me, I hate you. If you are not hitting on me, I hate you even more.

8. Nervous Nellies

My conversation with these jittery travelers usually goes something like this:

Nervous Flyer: Hi.

Me: Me? Oh. Hi.

Nervous Flyer: I hate to fly. Do you fly often?

Me: Yeah, all the time. No worries, just sit back and try to enjoy it.

Nervous Flyer: Enjoy it?! What’s to enjoy!? Feeling like your head is going to explode with pressure!? Knowing that you could fall to your death at any given moment!? Fighting over a 2x2 cubicle of space they call a bathroom!?

Me: I don’t know, yeah, pretty much all of it.

Then, I put on my headphones and try to drown out the sobs and various prayers (while still half hoping that ya know, it’s helping. Pray harder, woman!).

9. Coma Patients

The worst place to be is stuck in a middle or a window seat when the person next to you is passed out. Do you sacrifice the health of your bladder to let them catch a little shut eye?

A whispered, “Excuse me, sir?”

A pause. A little louder.

“Excuse me, sir.”

Then louder still.

“Excuse me, sir!?”

What is he dead? Whatever I’ll just climb over him. Then he wakes up just as you are straddling his lap with a leg on either side of his. I mean, I tried to wake you up, dude.

10. Gangstas 


The first time I flew by myself I was in the middle seat between a mousy 20-something-year-old and a man named Bones. I knew this was his name because before we took off he called someone.

“Sup? It’s Bones. I’m on my way.”

Questions flooded my 14-year-old mind. First, I was curious.

“Hm, how does someone get ‘Bones’ as their nickname?”

Then, I panicked.

“Oh my god, how in the world does someone get “Bones” as their nickname?!?! Should I tell the flight attendant? Should I call my Mom? Should I get off the plane?”

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