If you feel anxious about getting to the airport on time before that business meeting or get uncharacteristically irritated at the person with a pocketful of change who holds up the security queue, you’re not alone.
“It’s not just arriving at the airport on time, going through the security and boarding formalities and getting on the ‘plane that causes travel stress. What happens before the flight and what travellers anticipate will happen after it also has a bearing on how much anxiety they feel and how they cope with it,” says Dawn Weir, Head of kulula work.
Weir suggests the following five tips to deal with and avoid some of the factors that can exacerbate travel stress:
1. Be well rested before your flight
Going to bed late, particularly if you have to get up early makes most people crotchety and irritable. Try to get an early night.
Also, try and get some exercise in the late afternoon or evening before the flight. It’s a great stress reliever and will help you sleep better.
2. Plan ahead
Leaving your packing until the last minute will add to your stress and increase the chances of you leaving something important behind. Do the bulk of your packing a day or two before. Leave some space in your hand luggage for last-minute items.
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Allow yourself enough time to get to the airport. It’s much less stressful to get there with time to spare, than in a desperate rush.
Book your transport from the airport to your hotel or meeting before departure. It’s better than spending the whole flight worrying about what will happen when you arrive.
3. Eat and drink sensibly
Guzzling litres of coffee to wake up after an early start will make you jittery and irritable, adding to your anxiety.
Too much alcohol the night before inhibits sleep and you won’t wake up feeling your best.
Comfort eating isn’t a great idea either.
Like caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, chocolate contains stimulants that can increase anxiety. It’s the same reason it’s a good idea to avoid fizzy drinks. Instead, stock up on healthy snacks like fresh or dried fruit and nuts and drink plenty of water.
4. Use technology
Check-in online. It’ll save you time at the airport, enabling you to skip the check-in queues and head for the fast-bag drop. Saving the boarding pass to your phone also means one less piece of paper to keep safe, just make sure your phone is charged.
If you know your bags are going to be overweight you can save yourself time and money by paying for the excess luggage online before you arrive at the airport.
5. Remain calm
Perhaps easier said than done, but when something unexpected happens it’s easy to react negatively by arguing endlessly or fuming silently. It’s much better to take a deep breath, stay calm and accept there are some things you just can’t change.
Weir adds that travel stress affects people in different ways. Some people cope better than others with late nights and early starts but may get anxious about missing their flight while standing in a slow security queue.
“If you think about your stress triggers and ways to limit or avoid these you’ll feel more positive and empowered, will probably enjoy the trip more and be happier when you arrive at your destination.”
– Adapted from kulula press release