Travelling – and, more specifically, flying – can be a stressful experience. (I write this as someone who should really be packing for a trip right now!) That said, there are some simple measures you can take to make the process run much more smoothly, and thus make the experience less stressful than it needs to be. Here are my five top tips:
1. Use a packing list
Knowing that you have everything – whether it be your passport or your pants – is a first sure-fire way of taking the stress out of a trip. Packing lists are a great way to achieve this and ensure that you don’t arrive at the airport without some crucial paperwork, or at your destination without a key piece of equipment. It’s always a good idea to travel light if you can and a packing list can also help prevent you carrying more than you need. I would be very interested in knowing what packing list works for you. Do you use your own custom list, or perhaps a packing list app such as Packing Pro or Travel List? Let’s hear your recommendations in the comments below!
2. Get to the airport with ample time to spare
One sure-fire way to remove a lot of the anxiety involved with flying is to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Depending on your flight, you can be required to be there one, two or even three hours before departure, but leave a little more time that to make the process that little bit less stressful still.
Consider all your options. Do you have an early start? If so, would it be advantageous to stay at or close to the airport the night before? For example, IHG have three hotels near Heathrow (the Crowne Plaza London Heathrow as well as the Holiday Inn London Heathrow – Ariel and the Holiday Inn London-Heathrow M4, Jct. 4) which all offer ‘Park, Stay and Go’ packages that include parking, an overnight stay and hassle-free transfers to the airport.
3. Use the airport lounges
If you’re travelling business or first class, you’ll have access to an airport lounge. These are invariably of a high standard and provide luxury and calmness away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal. Some nowdays – such as Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse at Heathrow – have spas where you can receive a pampering treatment or two.
But, even if you’re not lucky enough to be travelling business or first, there are other ways to gain access. Fully flexible economy tickets, for instance, can get you in if you’re loyal to a particular airline and have reached a particular membership tier. If you’re a frequent flier, there are also schemes where you can sign up for lounge access for the year or there are sometimes one-off, on-the-day lounge passes can be purchased, and several credit card providers will provide lounge access to their premium customers and some airports.
It’s well known that exercise is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. But did you know that many airports have gyms, or at least nearby hotels with fitness clubs? airportgyms.com used to be a good resource for this but appears to have been neglected of late. Do a bit of research on your airport of choice and you may be pleasantly surprised. Don’t overdo it, of course – a light warm-up may be all you need to release any built-up tensions.
In the same vein, there are also exercises that you can do in-flight – check out CNN’s article ‘Airplane yoga: 18 exercises for healthy flying‘ for some inspiration.
5. Get some rest
Lastly but by no means least, try and get as much rest on the plane as you can. I’m not an advocate of taking sleeping pills when you fly although I know some choose to do so. If you don’t have the luxury of a flat bed inflight, try simple things like wearing loose clothing, or perhaps using ear plugs, an eye mask or a neck pillow… whatever works for you.
Images #2, #4 and #5: Shutterstock
Disclosue: this article was sponsored by, and written on behalf of, IHG.