5 top tips to take the stress out of flying

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! Packing Pro app 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. Air travel stress 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. Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse 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. 4. Exercise 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. Exercise 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. Getting some rest Images #2, #4 and #5: Shutterstock Disclosue: this article was sponsored by, and written on behalf of, IHG.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Always always alway pack a spare pair of nickers a nice top (female) or shirt (male) as well as three days worth of any daily drugs you need. You can rinse your nickers, and change a shirt. Maybe socks also. I don’t know. I just cross my fingers and hope for the best.

  2. You know what I find the best thing to do to take the stress out of my flying? Airplane facts. You know, the good ones. It always makes me palms less sweaty reading those on takeoff! Takeoff is a thing I used to love.. then all of a sudden got really nervous with. I love traveling. It’s a shame the flying isn’t as fun as it used to be for me!

  3. I have to admit I don’t use a list. I often travel to another season and have usually forgotten exactly which garments I have to suit that season, so I go through wardrobes and drawers systematically. Start with shoes, one pair for rain (often the ones I travel in) one pair of sandals and a pair to dress up. Everything I pack has to work with those. I travel lightish, 12 to 14 kg, so if I am on a business trip a couple of sets of clothes for each climate and a couple of sets of casual stuff for days off. There are always laundries and laundry facilities around. I do pack heaps of underwear, as I am not keen to send that to a laundry and I hate it hanging around the hotel room.
    My passport, headphones (Sony noise reduction), kindle and other travel stuff live together in a drawer so are always to hand. Plane time is my time; nobody can get to me! I have my kindle, headphones, wrap and games and use the time for r and r. And yes, do pack those knickers in your carry on, you never know whether your baggage will be delayed or lost.
    Sorry, this turned into a saga!

  4. Great post and tips about travelling. This is very informative and thanks for this, I gain a lot of helpful tips to lessen stress while flying.

  5. This article has a great factual style but seems to state the obvious in my view. I liked the first point but then if you are as disorganised to need a packing app are you really going to end up using it? Much more helpful would be info on : Number 3: We all know that people who travel a lot get lots of perks. But what about which frequent flyer programmes offer the most accessible for certain budgets and offering the most perks at the lower end for those of us on smaller budgets. Assuming we can choose (as a Londoner flying from Heathrow) then you can tailor your holiday choices or business to complement the FF program you choose. Or at least give some facts on the BA program. Number 4 : what are the airports around the world with gyms? Since if they are hubs its possible to book a ticket to route yourself through there with the ticket being cheaper overall as it is not a direct flight- and you get to enjoy a different airport, the gym and some duty free.. and whilst we are on the point of easy flying what about airports with ‘rest pods’ like Schipol..

    I could go on but definitely more content needed here for the article to live up to its attention grabbing title..

  6. I’ve just arrived from a 21-hour-flying trip, which just killed me. Well, not literally, but whilst I managed to sleep quit a bit, I wish I had had a flatbed. I’ve had a sore neck for the last five days and blame it on the flight. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I had exercised the days preceding the trip, though.

  7. Keeping hydrated is key too. Drinking too much alcohol the night before a flight is hellish, especially if you are on a red eye flight (yes, talking from experience). Drinking on a plane apparently gets you drunker quicker too. I like to keep myself as fresh as possible before I arrive at a destination.

  8. A few hard earned, travel packing lessons:

    1. Never pack anything in a suitcase, you’re not prepared to lose.
    2. Keep valuable items and documents, always with you, in the hand luggage.
    3. Try, if possible to “split pack” between hold luggage, and hand luggage.
    That way, if disaster strikes, you’re half covered!

  9. Getting to the airport early has never bothered me that much. From the bar, to lounges and other diversions, there is usually something to do. If all else fails, you can always go on the wifi and work :)

  10. Excellent advice for people who are starting their travel careers. I would also recommend plenty of hydration, emergency tissues and ear plugs for noisy environments like airports.

  11. Noise reduction headphones really enhance the travel experience. You are taken to another place away from the constant noise of rushing air.

  12. Depending on how long your trip is going to be, I ship out my belongings for a trip lasting longer than two weeks. It isn’t that expensive, but it sure does give me the piece of mind knowing that what I need will be safely at my hotel when I need it.

    I also enjoy walking onto a plane with nothing but the simplest of items in the most comfortable shoes. The worst thing is to be lugging around suitcases or a pretty heavy backpack when trying to get to the next gate.

  13. Once my luggage was stolen leaving me without essentials for a few days. Pack your essentials in your carry on.

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