Somehow travel is simultaneously the best and the worst, often due to airport stress.
It’s always incredible to explore new regions and discover different destinations…but getting there (and back again) is rarely the highlight of the trip. At best, it’s nothing to write home about. At worst? Well, we don’t need to dwell on everything that could go wrong en route.
Whatever the cause, we can all agree that the one thing that will NOT help is being told to “calm down.”
Alternatively, here are a few ways to reduce airport stress in common travel scenarios.
Reducing airport stress: Managing sensory overload
There is so much to see and hear and smell at the airport. Even for someone who enjoys some casual people-watching, it can quickly become overwhelming — sometimes even on a subconscious level. You might feel yourself getting overwhelmed and not be able to pinpoint exactly why. It might be a case of overstimulation.
Ideally you could try to find an empty gate away from boarding flights — but that’s not always possible. If you can’t get to a quiet spot while you wait, then you need to create your own zone of tranquillity. Earbuds are a lifesaver. I often use them to signal that I’m not open for communication, even if they’re not connected to any audio. Ditto for opening a book, which, even outside the library, is an international sign for “shhhhhh.”
Reducing airport stress: Tips for when you’re hungry
Your flight left early in the morning before the coffee kiosk was open and that single dry cookie served on the flight is just not enough to carry you through your layover and next connection.
Start with water. A reusable water bottle is the gold standard but, failing that, a plastic water bottle will help you in the moment. Plus, you can seal it up and bring it with you (assuming you don’t need to leave security). Additionally, getting something with protein (think: a smoothie, a sandwich or wrap, etc.) can help ensure that you’re giving yourself the minimum nutrients in between servings of tiny pretzels.
Reducing airport stress: Coping with tiredness
Whether it’s an early departure, a redeye, or just a long day of airport time, travelling to and from your destination is exhausting.
Caffeine is always tempting but if you can give yourself a cat nap, the rest can go a long way to helping alleviate your airport stress. You likely won’t be able to lie down but I recommend the “hug-a-bag” position while seated (works best with backpacks). Pull down a hat or scarf, set a timer on your phone and close your eyes for 20 minutes.
Reducing airport stress: Dealing with travel anxiety
Too many factors can go wrong and contribute to airport stress. Despite meticulous planning, there’s a lot outside of our control while travelling. Even the most laid back person can find themselves on edge in an airport.
A great tool is the 5-4-3-2-1 approach. Take a second to centre yourself and then identify: 5 things you see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste.
While it might not be possible to avoid airport stress entirely, having some tools to manage that stress can go a long way.