1. Get your move on. Between waiting around at the terminal and being sandwiched into your coach seat on board, you’re going to be stationary for a long time. Getting some exercise before heading to the airport is the first pro tip that can start your journey off on the right foot.
A brisk walk, short jog, or energetic turn on the elliptical will lower your blood pressure, burn off some anxiety and help you relax during the entire journey. Whether you exercise regularly or not, once you’re tucked into your tiny airplane seat, you’ll be glad you got your move on earlier.
2. Pack less. Nobody wants to get stuck behind that guy. You know the one: the guy trying to fit a 75-pound hard-shell suitcase into the overhead bin. Wherever you’re going, you’ll likely need less stuff than you think, so leave that bulky coat or extra outfit at home.
Choose items you can wear multiple timesor wash in a hotel bathroom and let dry overnight, like microfiber tops and lightweight fleece. No one will care that you’ve sported the same pullover and jeans in three different cities. You likely won’t even see the same people twice! Besides, you can always buy a new top, t-shirt or sarong at your destination and have a practical souvenir.
3. Roll when packing. Rolling your clothing is such a simple way to minimize both bulk and wrinkles that you’ll wonder why you ever folded.
4. Pack an overnight kit. Your carry-on should contain everything you’ll need to freshen up on-board before landing. A toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, clean undies and socks, a pre-moistened face cloth: these little luxuries don’t weigh much but can really make a huge difference. You might even want to purchase them in the airport to avoid problems at security (See tip #11). Hitting a strange city or terminal after you’ve brushed your teeth and changed into a fresh shirt will increase your focus and make navigating a breeze.
5. Layer your clothes. Planes waiting to take off can get stiflingly hot, but those little air blowers always seem too chilly. Temps in airports can range from tropical to Antarctic. Be prepared by layering from a tank top to a long-sleeved shirt to a cozy sweater or light jacket. And don’t forget comfortable shoes for sprinting between terminals. Stash lightweight flip-flops in your bag for later; airports demand practical footwear.
6. Consider the hoodie. Wouldn’t it be great to have a private space in that cramped coach seat? A hoodie can replicate that magical escape. Just pull up the hood — preferably over noise-cancelling headphones (see tip # 13) — for a little extra warmth, quiet and darkness. You’ll feel like you’re in your own private room, if only until drink service.
7. Request a special meal. Whether you’re vegetarian, observe kosher, have allergies or none of the above, requesting a special meal will get you served first and avoid that over-salty mystery food airlines are famous for. These designated meals also tend to be fresher and tastier, as they are often prepared in smaller batches.
Another option is to bring your own food, purchased in the airport (see tip #13 again). Most terminals include at least a few healthy choices, like fresh salads, fruit or wraps. Just avoid anything fried or overly spicy so the aroma doesn’t overwhelm your seatmates, and wait to eat at the same time as everyone else. You don’t want to make hungry, jealous enemies of those you’ll be stuck with for four hours or more.
At The Airport:
8. Give in to being powerless. As soon as you set foot in that airport, simply accept that you are no longer in control. Lines will be long, planes will arrive and leave on their own mysterious schedules, babies will cry and other travelers will have no idea what they are doing. Once you give up the idea that you can change any of that, you’ll feel calmer, and your entire experience will seem more pleasant.
Accessing your inner patience may take a little practice, but the stress-reducing benefits of letting go are undeniable. This is not to say that you shouldn’t pay attention to gate changes and security concerns, but freaking out over flight delays or clumsy strangers does no one any good. It’s truly amazing what an attitude adjustment can accomplish.
9. Charge your phone or device from a television. Angling for space at infrequent outlets can be a daunting proposition. Bring your USB cord and plug into the back of any of the hundreds of TVs that are everywhere in airports.
10. Avoid both alcohol and caffeine. Though it may be tempting to get your vay-kay party started with cocktails while you wait for take-off, an alcohol hangover will only exacerbate jet lag. Likewise, too much caffeine will make you jittery and send you to that airplane potty an alarming number of times. Stick with water or green tea to feel your best while traveling.
11. Shop. You’ll be sitting soon enough on the plane. Take advantage of the wait before boarding to browse the airport shops for reading material, snacks or gifts. You might even purchase a light meal to-go, thereby avoiding the dreaded airline food. Getting this last bit of exercise will help you feel calmer and more relaxed once you’re seated in that shiny tube.
On The Airplane: