I’ve been thinking about my travel days, and how fraught with stress they usually are. In anticipation of my flight to Seattle, I have decided to be proactive and make my travel days as stress-free as possible. Here are some strategies I’ve come up with that will help you be more relaxed when you’re trying to catch that plane.
How to Reduce Your Stress Level at the Airport
Before you go:
1. Make sure you find out your airline’s baggage policies: carry-on size, weight limit for checked baggage, whether or not you get one free checked bag, etc. Doing this before you before you leave for the airport makes for a much smoother experience once you get there. Nobody wants to be the person standing at check-in trying to rearrange their clothes to spread the weight over several bags. (Example: the fee for an overweight bag on United Airlines is $100-$200!)
2. Within twenty-four hours of your flight, check in online and print your boarding pass. This makes everything so much easier when you get to the airport: less lines! Less waiting! And those are beautiful things.
3. Eat! When I haven’t eaten, I am a hundred times more stressed out. Leave for the airport with a full stomach, and bring along some fruit, trail mix, or other easy, healthful snacks for all that waiting time you’ll have ahead of you.
4. Get a good night of sleep so you are fully rested for your travel day. Just like with food, lack of sleep can really set off anxiety, so take control and give yourself the rest you need.
5. Pretend your flight leaves an hour before it really does. It’s hard to be late that way, isn’t it? Whatever mode of transportation you’re taking to the airport, give yourself plenty of time to get there so you’re not in a rush to get through security and find your gate.
At the Airport:
6. As soon as you get to the airport, take a minute and center yourself. Take some deep breaths, drink some water, whatever you need to do for a quick refresh, do it. This helps when you’re suddenly bombarded by loads of new stimuli in an environment that’s out of your control.
7. Music is your friend. Make sure to have your headphones or ear buds handy so you can listen to your favorite ‘happy place’ music while you navigate the mayhem of the airport.
8. Make sure you keep your ID, boarding pass, and any other necessary documents all in one, easy to reach spot so you’re not frantically searching through endless pockets in your jacket, bag, etc. Designate one pocket, and keep them there.
9. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, ‘Smile, breathe, go slowly’. Ideally, you’ve given yourself enough time that no rushing is necessary. Create an energetic bubble around yourself, if you’re into that sort of thing.
10. Give yourself a break! You’re doing the best you can, and this is a hectic experience that will not last forever.
Do you have any strategies you use to make the airport less stressful?