Airports. Some people love them, some hate them, some do a little bit of both. But knowing the right way to prevent and deal with the stress caused by the airports can spare you a lot of headache.
Recently I broke two personal records regarding air travel: most flights booked in a week (eight) and most flights done in a week (four). That means I spent a lot of time in airports lately. As a matter of fact, I am writing this post from an airport right now, in an attempt to keep my mind busy and survive this ecosystem, this scary, living, breathing, red eyed monster that an airport represents for many of us. That’s the ugly truth: I love to travel but I hate airports. That’s a shame, considering that our awesome, long-awaited journey usually begins in one. I feel like airports are usually places that drain your energy and fill you up with frustration, but do not despair, there are always ways to make it better. Just follow some simple tips.
Arrive early at the airport
I know, I know. You think this is a no brainer, but trust me, I feel the need to say it because of my own personal experiences. I am that type of person that is always late for everything: meetings, appointments or any other types of planned activity. Flights easily fall in this category. I can’t even count the times when I held my breath all the way to the airport, because I was on the verge of missing my flight. Until the inevitable happened and one day I arrived at the airport just to see the plane that I was supposed to be in, just taking off and flying above my head.
To make sure you never experience this awful feeling, schedule your time so that you arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before takeoff for a domestic flight and 3 hours for an international flight. If a ride to the airport usually takes 30 minutes, I recommend you take into account an extra hour, in the event of an unanticipated occurrence.
Pick the best time to book your flight
The day and hour of your flight is very important too. If you’re flexible with your schedule, choosing the right time to travel can help you deal with less traffic on your way to the airport, put up with smaller crowds and pass security much faster.
For example, if you choose to travel on a Friday night, the road is usually more crowded than on a Tuesday night, so either don’t plan your trip on crowded days, or add more time for delays if there’s no way you can avoid them.
The alternative for leaving so many hours before the flight, would be to book a room in a hotel close to the airport the night before the flight. But let’s be real. If you clench your money like I do, that might not be an option.
Choose your airport wisely
Another reason why you should be early at the airport is sluggish security checks. They usually happen in big, crowded airports. The best way to avoid this is choosing to fly from smaller airports, if you happen to have more options nearby. Usually, smaller airports also mean cheaper plane tickets to a lot of destinations, so if you haven’t considered the possibility yet, you should.
If you want to feel comfortable, you have to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Also, avoid wearing belts, watches and other metal accessories that you will have to remove when you go through security. The slow you down and stress you out. Keep it simple and the whole process will seem much easier.
Don’t forget your headphones
We all know it. Music is pure therapy. Soothing music genres such as classical, ambiental, jazz or soft rock are preferred to achieve the best result, but you can choose any genre you wish, as long as you know it can work its magic. During long waiting times or layovers, the headphones will remove the noises around so you can concentrate on other activities like reading, writing and drawing. If you’re more bored than stressed, go for catchy songs that can boost your mood instantly and keep you entertained for as long as you need.
Bring food and drinks
You’re not you when you’re hungry. Or thirsty if I may add. It’s well known that these states can lead to irrational behaviors, therefore God forbid you walk in an airport driven by these two primary needs. If that happens, chances are you will spend more money than you have spent on your plane ticket. Therefore, make sure you take some food and water with you, enough to cover the time spent at the airport.
Remember that you can’t pass through security with your bottle of water, but you can pass with an empty bottle. After you clear the security barrier, look for a water refill station or a water fountain. I heard some people refill their bottle from airport bathroom sinks, but I wouldn’t advise it. There is always a risk of catching a waterborne disease and it’s just not worth it.
When it comes to food, I always take a full bag with me. Choose snacks like cereal bars, fruits or different kinds of seeds. These are both healthy and nutritious, fueling you up with energy for the rest of the day.
According to studies, chewing gum helps stabilize heart rate and blood pressure, inducing a state of calm in stressful environments. The scientists don’t have yet a clear idea why it has an influence on stress levels, but it’s thought that it helps the brain oxygenate better. Anyway, the results are what count more than anything, so just in case, try to always keep a pack of gum in your pocket. You never know when you might need it.
If you’re not a fan of gum (to be honest I’m not), you still have an option: chocolate! Many don’t think about chocolate as a healthy aliment, but more as a guilty pleasure. Still, studies show that chocolate (especially dark chocolate) can do wonders when you’re stressed, because it increases the levels of serotonin and endorphin, which are known as the hormones of happiness. So basically, every time you eat a bar of chocolate, your brain is throwing a party of chemical reactions that results in reducing your stress levels.
Smile and be positive
All you have to do is make that frown go away and put a smile on your face. If you’re alone and fear you might look like a madhouse patient, just try to do some positive thinking. Talk, think and act like a happy person and your brain will follow the lead.
What about you? Do you consider airports stressful or not? What works best for you when it comes to relaxing in an airport? Comment down below and share the wisdom with all of us!