You’ve been waiting for this day to arrive for months. Counting down the moments until you get on that plane and start your life-changing, study abroad adventure. Then you arrive at the airport to check in for departure and the seemingly chaotic situation drops you into a pool of anxiety.
The truth is, no matter how many times you’ve traveled, stepping into an airport heightens everyone’s emotional state. Whether it’s the long lines, dread of delays, luggage weight restrictions, or the cost of a bottle of water – it’s oh-so-easy to work yourself into a tizzy before you even board the plane.
Thankfully there are a few tricks you can use to make the experience less stressful - and, dare I say - even pleasant!
- Arrive early. No brainer, right? But there’s literally nothing more anxiety-producing than cutting it too close for a flight. Even if you’ve checked-in online, you’ve still got luggage to check and security lines to get through. Most airlines recommend you arrive three hours prior to departure for an international flight. Heed it. You might even throw-in another thirty minutes just to be safe. And if you’re traveling with another person notorious for being late? Tell them you’ll meet them at the boarding gate. Don’t put your travel plans in jeopardy just to accommodate someone who can’t get themselves out the door on time.
- Soak-in a soothing playlist. Between the incessant announcements, crying babies, and travelers shouting into their cell phones, the cacophony of airport clatter can be cloying. Block it out with a soothing predeparture playlist, and by soothing, I don’t mean your favorite heavy metal or grunge bands, but rather something with a calming effect. Spotify and Pandora both offer flying and white noise mixes. Whatever you choose, make sure it invites you to focus on the music so you can forget about the crowds. (But not so loud you can’t hear your boarding call!)
- Breathe. For thousands of years, people have employed breathing techniques to calm the mind and reduce stress. One of the most calming breathing techniques is called “alternate nostril breathing.” To do this:
- Set yourself up in a seat by your boarding gate.
- Sit up straight.
- Block your right nostril and inhale slowly through the left nostril.
- Block your left nostril and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
- Keep your left nostril blocked and inhale slowly through the right nostril.
- Block your right nostril and exhale slowly through the left.
- Do a few rounds of this technique and notice the power of its centering effect.
These are just a few of the many ways you can make the start of your journey – if not unforgettable – then at least, uneventful.