Do you find yourself getting infuriated by the annoying train etiquette (or lack thereof) being displayed by fellow passengers on your commute? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s look at how to tackle some of the most heinous offences.

  1. People taking up too much space

This is normally, but not exclusively, a male problem, so much so that it is the subject of an entertaining Tumblr account. From the old ‘this seat is taken by my bag’ trick to unashamed man-spreading, somebody taking up more room than they need is a big cause of irritation.

There are videos of people tackling this on a one-to-one basis, but obviously not everybody wants to spend their commute confronting fellow passengers. So perhaps the issue can be best addressed by transport operators. The New York City subway ran an advertising campaign that included slogans such as: “Dude, stop the spread please. It’s a space issue.” But one of the best solutions so far has been on the Seoul subway, where heart-shaped footmarks were placed on the carriage floor in front of seats to show people where their feet should be.

2. People reading what you’re reading

Whatever you like to read on your commute - your texts, laptop, book or newspaper - it is very annoying when you can see or feel someone else reading it over your shoulder. You could try the passive-aggressive approach of writing a text or email to a friend complaining that somebody is reading over your shoulder.

If that’s not your style, you might opt for a screen privacy filter for your device to stop it being read at an angle. Other ideas include using an e-reader, which is a bit easier to keep to yourself than a book or newspaper, or making your own nondescript dust jacket to dissuade interest in your book from those around you.

3. People smelling bad

Smelly fellow commuters frequently top polls on the most annoying things about train journeys. A waft of body odour first thing in the morning is not the ideal start to the day, nor is breathing in someone else’s pongy pilchard breakfast. Staging an intervention for a complete stranger you will never see again is not really an option.

Seattle-based writer Jonathan Shipley came up with some tactics that he uses to deal with smelly passengers on public transport. Among them are putting antibacterial lotion on his hands to mask the smell from others and wearing loose tops or turtlenecks that he can easily stretch up over his face as a makeshift mask!

4. People spreading germs

Given your close proximity to scores of strangers, commuter trains are a great place to catch a cold. There are few things worse than the moment somebody next to you in a packed carriage lets out an almighty sneeze. Then there’s the psychological warfare of the serial sniffer and their constant reminder that you’re breathing in their germs.

In the Far East, some favour the surgical face-mask to counter this particular problem, but elsewhere in the world that will probably earn you a place on this list. A healthy diet and daily vitamins will help fight off those germs, and you could always carry Vicks First Defence cold prevention nasal spray for use at the first sign of any symptoms.

5. People being too noisy

Many of these deserve their own category, but we’ll group them all together: people playing music too loud, people talking too loud, people testing out ringtones or texting with key tones turned on, people on the phone, people on the phone repeatedly informing people that they’re on the train and people snoring. Fellow commuters making irritating noises is guaranteed to ruin any journey. 

Fortunately, you can restore your serenity and sanity with Flare ISOLATE® ear protectorsThey will reduce noise levels and turn the volume down on your commute, while maintaining details in sound through bone conduction so you don’t feel too disoriented.

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