Summer Vacation Etiquette – Part 2: The Queue

Lining Up With Etiquette

Historical sites, natural wonders and theme parks are popular vacation destinations.  Such vacations often include standing in long lines – or queues as they’re called in some regions – or waiting along crowded parade routes.  Few people enjoy them, but lines are a reality of the vacation experience, whether you’re waiting for admission to an attraction, ride, exhibit or restaurant table.  Depending on where you are while waiting in line, you could strike up some interesting conversations and learn something about the place you’re visiting, or have some visiting time with your friends and family members.

Following are some guidelines to make standing in line – or lining up — more tolerable and pleasant for everyone:  

  • Don’t cut in line (or jump the queue).  If there is a No. 1 Rule of lines, or queues, it’s don’t cut in front of someone who is already in line.  That’s considered to be the height of rudeness.  But, there is more than one kind of cutting.  People who would never think of boldly stepping in front of someone who is already standing in line will think nothing of allowing six members of their party join them in front of others who are standing in line.  News flash: that’s cutting in line, as well!  If your entire party cannot wait in line together, consider another activity until you can.     

Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to get away with one person joining you in line, but only after you’ve asked the permission of the people behind you.  It will depend on whether the attraction, restaurant, etc., for which you are in line has limited seating and will impact the ability of all the people standing in line you for two hours to gain admission or find good seats.  In that case, don’t even think about allowing your friends or family to cut in and join you.

Should people try to cut in ahead of you and your party, politely but firmly remind them that there is a line and point them in the right direction; it’s quite likely that your fellow standers-in-line will assist you.  Finally, please remember that although you might not mind allowing someone to cut in line ahead of you, the folks standing behind you might have something to say about that, and it might not be kind.

  • Plan ahead.  Avoid long lines and big crowds – especially if you’ll be standing for a long while in the hot sun or cold rain — if you’re not feeling well and rested, are pregnant, disabled, or dealing with infants or small children with you.  Prevent sunstroke or pneumonia, passing out or other health or safety issue, and spare your fellow vacationers from having to deal with your issues.   If you do decide to brave it, pack sunscreen, water, tissues, magazine and any other necessary items.  And remember to visit the restroom before getting in line; there’s no guarantee you’ll get your place back if you have to make a dash after standing in line for an hour.
  • Patience is a virtue.  Everyone’s in the same boat, as it were, so keeping calm and cool is good waiting-in-line strategy.   
  • Don’t smoke.  Although you might be outdoors, don’t light up when standing so close to others.  Moreover, it’s not polite to ask someone to save your place while you step away to smoke; they likely have enough to cope with without watching out for you as well.
  • Don’t spit or litter.  Never spit on the ground or into a public receptacle.  Instead, use a facial tissue and then dispose of it and any other trash you have accumulated as soon as possible.  Try carrying a baggie for such occasions.   
  • Practice good grooming.  In the hot weather, showering and using deodorant will make you more welcome in a queue or other crowded venue.  Refraining from wearing perfumes and after-shave will also be appreciated — by both you and others.  By you, because bees, yellow jackets and other insects that love nectar will be less inclined to mistake you for their lunch and, others because your fragrance might be stronger in the heat, especially when you’re standing so close for so long.  Paying attention to your breath will be appreciated, as well, especially if you plan to chat with others in line!
  • Use your inside voice.  Using your inside voice while outdoors is adequate to speak with the people in your party or those you have just met.  There is no need to raise your voice — or worse – yell, to your family or friends, and alarm or disturb others.  Keep laughter and exclamations at a low volume and avoid sudden outbursts.
  • Limit your cell phone use.  Making or taking quick, urgent, calls and speaking in a low voice in consideration of others is fine.  When traveling around theme parks and other vacation attractions cell phones are a convenience to provide updates, find members of your party and call ahead for information and reservations.  It’s not polite, however, to disturb people around you with lengthy and loud telephone conversations.
  • Respect others’ space.  Stand a respectful 12-15 inches from the person or persons in front of and behind you.  Having a little space between you reduces anxiety, and you’re still close enough to carry on a conversation.
  • Strike up a friendly conversation.  Chatting with strangers in line can be fun and help pass the time and promote camaraderie.  Keep it light and informative, and not too personal.
  • Control the children.  If you are in charge of children while standing in line, ensure that they behave and do not disturb others.  Even the most adorable kids can lose their appeal when they annoy other people.
  • Don’t push.  Refrain from pushing when the doors open and everyone in line begins filing into the attraction.  Shoving does not expedite your entry and most likely will delay it if the line falls apart or someone is injured.  If you’re the injured one, it might end your vacation.  This is a time to add common sense to your good manners.
  • Cooperate with those in charge.  If people in authority at the attraction or restaurant ask you politely to move the line over, do so without question or argument, unless there is a chance of injury.
  • Locate fire exits.  Once inside, ask where the fire exits are.  Being smart as well as polite while on vacation is considered good form.

You Made It!

You’re finally inside!  Check next week’s post to learn about the next steps in your vacation manners.  And, if you have any additions to the above list, or suggestions, please feel free to comment!

Thanks for joining me.

Until next time,


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