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Charter Bus Etiquette Tips


Motorcoaches are a convenient way of getting around major cities, for both local residents and tourists. But whether you have a specific destination in mind or are sightseeing, there are always rules to follow when renting a bus. You will be sharing space with other travellers. Even if you are all are part of the same group, it’s still important to follow basic etiquette to avoid disrupting others.

Use these tips to avoid trouble and help make the trip a memorable experience for all the right reasons.

  • Be on time – Arrive at the designated point on time and be in your seat before the scheduled departure. Don’t be the person who holds up the entire trip. Not only is it simply rude to other people on the tour (including the driver), but you will delay the trip and potentially upset the whole schedule, causing the tour to miss (or rush through) various events on the itinerary. Plan ahead to give yourself plenty of time to get to the bus; set two alarms on the day. When you have rest stops, get back to the bus by the time your group leader tells you to be there.


  • Travel light – It’s a good idea to pack your “carry-on” belongings as lightly as possible. There can be limited overhead space on some motorcoaches, and that’s another space you share with your fellow passengers. You get plenty of room in the luggage storage area below a coach bus. One carry-on item per person is a good basic rule to follow. If you have specific items that you want to be easily accessible (medications, water, glasses reading/listening materials), store a second, small bag under your seat.

Credit: Dustin Tramel

  • Stay seated – You might be tempted to get up look around while the bus is moving, but it’s best to stay in your seat while you’re on the road. Buses are large vehicles, so turns and bumps are more exaggerated compared to a smaller vehicle. For your own safety, it’s best to remain seated until the bus comes to a complete stop. If you must stand up, hold onto the overhead handlebars for stability.

Credit: Ashley Gerlach

  • Respect other passengers’ personal space – Space aboard a bus can be limited. Respect personal boundaries and keep your possessions in your own space. That extends to your person as well; don’t encroach into others’ seats or put your feet on the chair in front of you. Have respect for the areas occupied by others, and everyone will have a far more pleasant trip.
  • Use your “inside voice” – Most of us don’t enjoy hearing other people’s conversations, so pay your fellow passengers the same courtesy. Use your “indoor voice” — speak just loudly enough for whomever you’re conversing with to hear, but not enough for the entire bus to be part of the conversation.

Credit: Pixzolo Photography

  • Mind your food – When travelling by bus, pick the right snacks. Choose light, portable foods with minimal leftover wrappers or waste. Select drinks and foods that are unlikely to spill if the bus has to make any sudden turns. Since you will be sharing the air inside the coach, avoid eating or drinking anything that has a strong smell that might irritate other passengers. Smells can linger long after you’re done eating. It’s a smart choice, as well, to avoid common allergens like peanuts and tree nuts. Ideally, eat before you board the coach, before departure, or at a rest stop, to avoid inconveniencing (or endangering) others.


  • Be respectful with entertainment – You may want to bring music, books, or movies to enjoy while on a long motorcoach trip. Keep in mind that your entertainment is your personal distraction. Refrain from playing music or watching movies at a volume that could disturb other passengers. Use earbuds or earphones. Also, keep reading material organized.  Spreading magazines and books across the seat or over the aisle may inconvenience other passengers and seatmates. They might even create a potential safety hazard, providing a slip-and-fall liability.
  • Keep kids entertained – Children often have shorter attention spans than adults, so be sure to bring plenty of different activities for them. Bring games, colouring books, stories (print or audio books), or movies to keep them entertained. Painter’s tape can also provide a non-destructive, fun activity in a limited seating area. Your fellow passengers will thank you for keeping the general environment as quiet and relaxing as possible.
  • Limit cell phone use – If possible, refrain from using your phone during the trip. Loud phone conversations can be a distraction for your fellow passengers, especially if you’re on a bus tour and your guide is speaking. Keep your phone on silent during the trip. When possible, limit conversations to rest stops. Ideally, if you can limit your “phone time” to texts and emojis, so much the better.


  • Use provided trash bags – It’s not good etiquette to leave wrappers and bottles scattered around the bus. Keep your personal space neat and tidy. This makes it easier (and safer) for people to move around the coach, and provides a more pleasant environment. Put your trash in the appropriate receptacles, and take garbage off the bus with you when you depart.
  • Be courteous – This sounds like a given, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded to “be kind” from time to time. Be polite and respectful to fellow passengers. Follow the driver’s instructions. Drivers are responsible for transporting you quickly and safely, and deserve your respect. Treat others with respect, and they will respond in kind.

It’s always good form to show courtesy and obey the rules of etiquette, especially when you expect to be with the same group of people for a while. Follow these tips to help ensure a peaceful ride on your bus. Show respect and consideration for your fellow passengers, and the trip will go more smoothly.

There are plenty of attractions in Toronto for both tourists and long-time residents to experience and enjoy. If you’re looking for a charter bus service to take your group around the city, or need transportation from the airport, give Parkinson Coach Lines a call at (905) 451-4776. For safe, comfortable transportation without the hassle of traffic and parking, book with us when you need to travel around the Greater Toronto Area.