For some, the airport represents all the possibilities the world has to offer. For others, it just means a whole lot of stress before getting to point B. It's not uncommon for people to have a love-hate relationship with the airport. And if you're more on the "hate" end of that spectrum, we have some tips for combatting that stress.
Don't Sweat Security
Even an angel without the slightest hint of suspicious powder or liquids in a *gasp* five-ounce bottle might feel a bit anxious about going through security. There are plenty of reasons why security is stressful. One is that you can never tell how long the line is going to be. Sometimes you breeze right through. Other times you have to wait for an hour in a herd of anxious travelers. Luckily, there are a few ways you can tackle this problem.
The most obvious is to make sure you give yourself plenty of time, arriving as early as they suggest, typically one hour before the departure time of a domestic flight and two hours early for an international flight. Sure, you may end up sipping a coffee and flicking through your Instagram feed at your gate for 45 minutes, but it sure beats sprinting down the terminal to your gate because the security line took longer than you expected.
There are some hacks, though, to getting through security with ease. One is TSA Pre-Check. It does cost $85 for five years, but you might find that cost well worth it if you travel often, or if you have high anxiety about getting through security. According to the TSA, in September 2019, 93% of Pre-Check passengers waited less than five minutes to get through security.
Another stressor might be wondering what is okay to pack and what isn't. You don't want those agents to take away your toiletries, but you also don't want to check a bag. And beyond that, you may have any number of unusual items you're wondering if you can pack or if they'll get taken away. The MyTSA app is loaded with useful information, including a list of which items you can take on the plane with you.
There's an App for That
While we already mentioned the MyTSA app, there are many other apps out there designed to reduce stress and take the pain out of being at the airport. For example, Sanctifly is an app for those who prefer to relieve stress by moving around — which is scientifically proven to be effective. Sanctifly tells you all the places near airports where you can get a workout in and still make it back to the airport in time for your flight. Sanctifly will tell you gyms within five miles of an airport, hotels that allow people to use their gym without booking a room, and where to find airport executive lounges with showers. So next time you have a long layover, catch an Uber to take a spin class, shower off, and be back in time for your flight. You'll feel great, and the endorphins will burn away your airport stress.
Another options is Airport Sherpa. Airport Sherpa is the food delivery app for airports, and it might just change your life. Have your food delivered right to your gate for a small fee, which will probably feel well worth it in many circumstances. No more stressing about standing in line at a fast food joint and wondering if you'll make it to your gate in time.
Stress might be inevitable, but how you react to that stress is somewhat manageable. If you know you are prone to stress while traveling, here are some practical things you can do to get yourself in the right emotional space:
- If possible, get a good night's sleep beforehand. Stressful situations are worse when you're sleep deprived. We understand with red-eye flights, early morning flights, and traveling overseas, this might not be in your control. But if you can, try to enter a day of traveling rested.
- Stay positive. Experts suggests a great way to reduce stress is to surround yourself with positivity. In a stressful airport situation, this might mean watching a funny YouTube video on your phone or listening to an upbeat playlist while you cruise through the airport. Flight delayed? Don't stress. Instead, call a friend you haven't caught up with in a while or someone who always makes you smile.
- Practice deep breathing techniques. You don't have to be a yogi to enjoy the mental health benefits of deep breathing. If you need a place to start, try the 4-7-8 technique. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Taking some time for deep breathing won't change your situation. But it will likely deescalate your mounting stress level enough to change your outlook.