I mentioned before about biases and microaggression often encountered by people of color while traveling. I recently traveled and even though I am an experienced traveler, had some similar travel experiences so I wanted to share my thoughts on how to feel more secure in your travel experience.
1. Keep in mind that you paid for the same privilege of travel no matter if you paid more or less than other travelers. Be mindful of others but always remember that your personal space is just that, and do not allow others to infringe upon your right.
2. If you have followed all the rules for the boarding process, know that you can take the time to put your items away and settle yourself in your seat. You should always give thought to the people behind you but remember the plane can't leave until everyone is seated so don't feel obligated to rush because of an impatient traveler.
3. Storage space on an airplane is shared space, so feel free to place your items where there is space. Often travelers get quite flustered as the space above their seat is taken so keep an eye out for storage space as you are going to your seat and if you see that the space above your seat is taken, feel free to use the space before your seat or after. Note that is easier to retrieve your luggage when getting off the plane if it is in front of you rather than behind.
4. Try to always acknowledge your seatmates if they are already seated or if they sit after you. If they don't respond, don't be insulted as this allows you to make sure you are being seen, even if not acknowledged. Many times, as travelers of color there can be a perception that you don't belong in a space, claim your right and stand by it.
5. Finally, if you have paid for a specific seat, do not feel obligated to adjust to other traveler's needs. It can be thoughtful to help out if it fits your need but do not feel obliged to give up your seat to accommodate others especially if your preference is not what is offered.
I hope these tips help for a more pleasant travel experience. Have you ever been made to feel as if you don't belong when traveling? I'd love to hear about it.