Sometimes I find myself at the airport, overwhelmed with what a stressful experience it can be, and I wonder why I keep traveling. Usually this is after a 7 hour flight when I haven’t slept for 24 hours! Still, there’s no question that the airport is far from efficient, and one of the top stressors for travelers, new and seasoned. Here are a few tips I offer to try to counter that frustration just a tad.
1. Be Prepared at TSA
You know you’re going to have to take off your shoes and take out your laptop and liquids, so rather than having everyone in line behind you glaring at you as you fumble through your carry-on, have everything prepped and ready. I keep the items I’ll need to take out at the top of my bag for easy access. I start untying my shoes in line (or better yet, wear slip-off shoes) so that when I get to the conveyor belt, I don’t hold anyone up and can breeze through.
2. Get Global Entry
My first tip will be completely moot if you heed this advice! Global Entry gets you automatic TSA pre-check, which means you don’t have to take anything out of your bag, nor do you have to take your shoes off. TSA pre-check used to be more exclusive, so the lines went faster, but I’m seeing more people in that line now. Still, not having to upend your carry-on is great.
Another benefit of Global Entry comes at the tail end of an international trip when you arrive exhausted at a US airport and still have to go through Customs. You get fast-tracked through both Customs and the Declaration line, which makes it completely worth it.
3. Always Aim for a 2+ Hour Layover
You have to watch these airlines. They’re pushing layovers together so that you barely have time to get off one plane and trek your way to another. This elevates my blood pressure! That’s why I seek flights that have at least a 2 hour layover. That’s just enough time to find my gate and eat something without rushing.
4. Get a Massage
Airports, while causing muscle-spasming stress, at least are starting to offer something to counter to that. You’ll see massage places in many airports these days, so if you do have a long enough layover, I encourage you to book even a 15-minute massage. It’ll do wonders to help you arrive, either at your vacation destination or back home, a little less kinked up.
5. Don’t Eat Crap
I know. It’s exciting to see the plethora of fried and heavy foods available at an airport. But take it from someone who thought chorizo in her breakfast burrito was a good idea before a transcontinental flight (and was so, so wrong about that): crappy food will make you feel like…you guessed it. Crap. Being in a tin can hurtling through the sky works a number on the body, so why exacerbate that situation by eating something that makes your body unhappy? Save the junk food for your trip and indulge in something sensible. I know you can do it!
None of these tips will prevent delayed or cancelled flights, and I’m genuinely sorry about that. Though I have to say, if you can maintain a serene attitude about issues that come up in your travels, you’ll be a lot happier overall.