How to Fall in Love with Air Travel
Hectic airport energy. Smelly, stressed out people in long lines at security. Fumbling with your bags (you just had your boarding ticket, but then you put it in a pocket somewhere). Then the wait for the plane, sometimes for hours. Delays. Crying children. All of this to sit in a tiny expensive seat (they seem to get smaller every year) in a metal tube being shot through the sky, for hours.
I know, air travel isn’t always the most enjoyable experience. It was exciting the first few times we found ourselves at the airport, often when we were children (see: I Started Travelling like a Child for more information on how to invoke your inner travel child).
However, with some preparation and effort, you can love air travel. Rather than writing off every flight as a horrible experience before it begins, here are some tips to make air travel enjoyable, comfortable, and if you’re really committed, a lovely escape.
5 Common Problems
I don’t like crowds and feel claustrophobic
Before you leave: Invest in earplugs and/or a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Fill your bag with things you love– an audiobook you’ve been dying to listen to, inspiring podcasts, and uplifting music so you can enjoy yourself solo. Most importantly, choose your seat in advance so you’re not between two other people on the plane.
As you travel: In airports, choose a seat at an empty gate near yours to hang out at. People-watch. People are fascinating, and maybe enjoying the spectacle of the airport will bring you more joy than you expect. After all, you’re all in this together. There will be time for solitude and long walks when you arrive.
Flying makes me physically uncomfortable, and can even cause pain.
Before you leave: If you struggle with physical pain like back aches, neck pain, or leg pain, visit a physiotherapist, massage therapist, or other practitioner well in advance before you leave. They will help you with exercises to make you stronger and therapy to loosen you up. Make preparations. If you get cold easily, bring lots of layers in an easily-accessible bag. Pack an eye mask and a neck pillow for support. If you experience nausea, headaches, or anxiety, bring your medication. Don’t leave it up to chance. If airport/airplane food is a no-go, pack food to bring with you. As you travel: Make sure your comfort is number one. Especially if you suffer with digestive troubles, make sure you choose foods that will make you feel energetic and vibrant (light, with lots of veggies and protein. Avoid deep fried food, and food with lots of dairy, sugar, and oils). For coffee lovers: Don’t drink too much of it. Stay hydrated with water… your insides will thank you.
I get bored when I have to sit still for hours
Before you leave: Decide what your travel day is going to focus on. I often recommend taking this opportunity to relax and unplug from work, but for restless people sometimes working is a good choice. Other options: what have you been meaning to do, but you haven’t had the time to commit? Good news, you will have the time to commit now. Download all the audiobooks, podcasts, and bring the materials you want to learn something new. As you travel: In the airport, go for a walk. You’ll be sitting for a long time, so you may as well keep moving now. My advice especially for restless people: Avoid foods with caffeine or sugar, as these will only wind you up more. If you’re sociable, make a friend– chatting with new people makes the time pass quickly! See this as a day for YOU, to do whatever is most important.
I get really anxious when I travel
Before you leave: Pack and prepare in advance so the day is as stress-free as possible. Plan to arrive at the airport earlier than advised if it means you feel more secure and calm. Some anxiety shows up as being frazzled, forgetful, and frantic, but sometimes it shows up in anger if you’re an efficient person and delays and incompetent people irritate you. Make sure to arrive and get settled in a mindset of enjoying yourself.
As you travel: Go slow. Buy the fancy coffee, find a seat with a view, and settle into a good book, especially if you’ve arrived early. There’s no rush, you have all your comforts with you, so you may as well enjoy the experience. If you get stressed out by plane delays and chaos, breathe and try to let it go as best you can. These things are outside your control. The only thing you have control over is how you choose to experience your day.
I can’t sleep on planes!
Before you leave: If it’s important to you that you sleep on this flight, experiment with eye masks and earplugs at home, as well as sound tracks that are meant to be sleep inducing (white noise that is more comforting than the sounds of the airplane). You can even try sleep medication to see how your body handles it– don’t wait until your flight to try this out, because medications can leave you extremely sluggish or even nauseated… not worth it.
Another option, which is more radical– release your need to sleep. If you’re flying across the world, your body will be confused whether you sleep or not. If you are terrible at sleeping, embrace being awake (sometimes the stress of trying to sleep makes it worse). Decide to stay awake, and make plans for sleep when you get there.
As you travel: Make yourself as comfortable as possible, and just focus on enjoying yourself. A lot of people who have trouble sleeping find comfort in closing their eyes for a while and letting thoughts slip in and out of their minds. Who knows… in this relaxed state, maybe you’ll sleep by accident!
I hope these tips have helped you. If you need any support or are interested in taking the dive and visiting Bali with Discover Your Bali, the travel experience for women who want to travel solo but not alone, DM me on Facebook or Instagram, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.