Some people pretend to enjoy being trapped in a tin can traveling at over five hundred miles per hour in the air, but most people admit that they don’t enjoy airports. Frankly, it’s because everyone at an airport is trying to get someplace else. No one really wants to be there, and despite the thousands of shops, little restaurants, and other distractions, airports on some level always feel like a type of purgatory.
But they don’t have to be! While you’re on your way to whatever destination, be it home for the holidays or a sunny vacation, there are a few simple ways to avoid travel anxiety and make the journey part of the fun. Here are a few airport anti-stress travel tips to keep in mind.
#1 Get There Early
Yes, this might seem obvious. I’m sure we can all hear our mother in the back of our heads warning us that on time is late, and early is on time. But seriously, be early. One of the most stressful things about traveling is if you’re on a time crunch. There are way too many unknowns to deal with from TSA to traffic, to the person in front of you in the security line that tried to bring everything she owns through the line.
Doing anything by a deadline is bound to produce anxiety, and if your entire vacation depends on a flight you might miss in the next twenty minutes—well, I wouldn’t call that a good start to a relaxing vacation. Being early is an easy way to reduce your stress level, and it only costs your time.
#2 Travel In Style
In the ancient times when my parents roamed the earth, it was custom to dress up to go to the airport. Let’s bring that back. Dressing nicely but comfortably can be a huge confidence booster. If I’m wearing my leather jacket, or a pair of heels, I feel I can accomplish anything. (Not that I would recommend heels when traveling).
But in all seriousness, looking good can make you feel good, so fake it until you make it! Dressing up is also a great way to be prepared for whatever fun activities you have once you hit the ground.
#3 Only Bring The Essentials
When traveling the only things that should be weighing you down are the thoughts that inevitably enter your mind after realizing you must yet again cross the country for the wedding of a cousin you don’t know. But in all seriousness, travel light.
Carrying heavy bags, or worse, a bunch of loose items that could include anything from computer chargers, to neck pillows, to the odd airport meal can make traveling terrible. The likelihood of you losing one of these precious (or not so precious) items isn’t worth it.
#4 Always Pack an Extra Bag
This is a must for any traveler that leans toward hoarder-like tendencies when packing. When checking a bag, prices tend to skyrocket if just one pair of shoes weighs a little too much. That’s why bringing an extra empty bag in your checked luggage can help you if you find yourself in the situation no one wants to be in: having to do the mental calculus about what in your bag you can toss or wear on the plane. But most of us don’t want to be wearing extra pants and a jacket on an already cramped plane.
So, bring the extra bag. Not only is it good for last minute rearrangements, it can be perfect for grocery shopping or if you plan on bringing back souvenirs.
#5 Bring Something To Do
The last problem with airports is the infinite boredom. With flight delays looming, there’s only so much eating and window shopping you can do (because God knows you don’t have room in your bag to buy something at an airport, unless of course, that something is extra luggage). That’s why a good book, some work you need to get done, or any kind of puzzle is ideal for staving off the mind-numbing nature of waiting for a plane.
Also published on Medium.