The postcards promised you white sand beaches, sangria on tap, and infinity pools perched over twinkling oceans… it didn’t say anything about skyrocketing stress and crippling airport anxiety.
Holidays are the ultimate form of rest and relaxation, but getting there?
Not so much. Airports are notoriously stressful places. From self service check-in machines, to flight cancellations, and traffic on route – holiday R&R seems to come at a steep cost.
What Causes Airport Stress?
The most stressful bit of the airport experience is called the ‘passenger path.’ That covers everything from checking in to security. After passing through security most passengers find themselves able to relax.
But how can you reduce airport stress before this point?
In this article, we’ll give you handy tips for getting a handle on airport anxiety so that you can enjoy all aspects of your holiday.
Airport Tips for Reducing Stress During Travel
Follow the signs
A huge part of feeling anxious at the airport is the lack of control. If you aren’t a frequent flyer and don’t know exactly where your favourite spots are and how to navigate the airport, it can feel stressful.
Whilst it might not always feel like it, steps have been put in place already to reduce airport stress. Trust that the airport you’re visiting has thought about this. Everything will be well signposted – just look up!
Often we’re too busy panicking to follow the signage that’s been provided. Your first step should always be to remain calm and look for information around you.
A quiet place
If you find the noise and rush of the airport triggering your anxiety, be sure to seek out a quiet space to take a moment. This could be stopping for a coffee or getting a book out. The seats nearest to the charging points tend to be quieter as travellers are absorbed in charging their phones.
You might even consider paying to access an airport lounge or travelling at off peak times. These are all handy ways to manage airport anxiety symptoms.
To reduce airport stress successfully, you really need to consider your journey to the airport. Not leaving enough margin for error will result in you rushing for your flight, or worse, missing it.
To limit the travel stress that comes with traffic hold-ups and train cancellations, find your flight time and work backwards factoring in your journey time. Look at alternative routes so you’re prepared if something goes wrong on your preferred route.
When you do get to the airport, check the timetables to find your flight information and timings for your departure gate and check-in.
It’s important to note that trying to ease your anxiety by arriving at the airport hours ahead of time could lead to the opposite. Get to the airport on time rather than super early to avoid waiting around in queues.
Stay at a hotel
If your pre airport anxiety is really bad, and money allows, it could be a good idea to book into a hotel close to the airport. This will limit any anxiety you have around missing your flight due to traffic or oversleeping. By cutting down the number of things that could go wrong, you’ll be minimising the chances of getting airport anxiety.
Ship items ahead of time
Luggage can be a real pressure point for a lot of people. Overstuffing suitcases, weighing and re-weighing, and then panicking in the check-in queue that your case might still be over the allowed limit. We’ve all had to scramble to redistribute weight between cases, or pay the sky-high excess baggage fees.
To avoid all that, pack light where possible to give yourself the chance of avoiding the check-in queue. If you really can’t condense your things to hand luggage, consider shipping them ahead to reduce airport stress.
Most people don’t consider this an option as they presume it’ll be pricey and time-consuming. Companies like Sherpr make it easy with an online quote and a simple step-by-step process. And it’s cheaper than you’d think!
Shipping luggage ahead also means you can skip the stressful step of baggage collection. Instead of hanging around with crossed fingers looking for your stickered suitcase with the red ribbons – shipping with Sherpr means you can have your things dropped off at a pre-agreed place and time of your choosing.
Make a list, and check it twice
Sticking with luggage, if your airport anxiety comes from a worry about forgetting to pack something, make a detailed list on your phone before you set off. If you worry about forgetting something in general, extend this list to cover electronics, and important documents too.
The methodical, logical process of ticking things off your list will help ease your anxiety and also ensure you don’t forget anything crucial.
Do your homework
If you’re thinking, “airport security makes me anxious”, you’re not alone. Anxiety around airport security is probably the biggest hurdle for many of us. It’s the final step before we can exhale and properly settle into holiday mode. After this point, it’s all duty-free shopping and Frankie & Benny’s fry-ups.
What triggers airport stress around security is usually the feeling that we may have accidentally packed something we aren’t allowed to. To counter this, do your research. Double-check the size and containers for your liquids the night before.
When you’re in the queue, waiting can also trigger anxiety. Counter this by separating your electronics, liquids, and any belts. This means you’re prepared once you reach the front and can simply slot your items into the correct trays.
Don’t switch off
Gate changes will be announced and also displayed on the timetable boards. Make sure you take a look at these at regular intervals. Some airline apps will also let you know your departure gate too.
If you completely switch off you could be likely to miss an important announcement. That could result in added airport stress if you have to rush to a gate change that you missed an announcement for.
Anyone who is panicking doesn’t want to be told not to panic. But when you’re boarding the plane it’s worth reiterating.
The mad rush to join the queue?
Not necessary. Everybody has a designated seat and as long as you’re on time, they won’t leave without you.
The anxiety about putting your bag in an overhead locker?
If you’re struggling to put your bags close enough to you, a member of the cabin crew will help you out.
If it’s the flight itself that gives you anxiety there are a few tips you can practice. Breathwork is one of the most helpful tools you’ll have. Simply taking some deep breaths can slow down your heart rate and take you out of that stressful, tense state.
You might also consider cutting down on caffeine pre-flight. Caffeine is a stimulant so it can be unhelpful if you’re feeling anxious and highly stimulated already.
Some nervous fliers have said that fighting their fear with knowledge has been helpful. Perhaps reading up on how airplanes work will give you less uncertainty. Finally, simply chatting to those around you or distracting yourself with a podcast or a book can help too.
It’s Time to Improve Your Airport Experience
From shipping your luggage ahead to getting clued up on security procedures, there are lots of game-changing hacks you can employ to reduce airport anxiety and stress.
Try this list of tips out next time you fly for a relaxed holiday that starts at the airport and lasts all the way to your return flight.