travel anxiety and how to beat airport stress

Travel Anxiety: 5 Ways to Beat Airport Stress

For many travelers, the airport can be the most stressful and frustrating part of the journey. Starting with the worry of getting there on-time and then standing in huge lineups. Or feeling anxious if you’ve forgotten something, frustrated with going through security checkpoints, and then navigating large terminals to find the gate. The list of airport stressors can go on!

Fortunately, many modern airports are creating ways to reduce stress for travelers and make time spent a more pleasant experience. For example, better signage, bright and airy atmospheres, automated technology, musical entertainment, and even having really cool programs like animal therapy for travelers!  Not every airport is like this, and even if they are, pre-travel anxiety can still be a big part of the journey.

Here are a few things you can do on your own to keep your stress in check while you’re going through all of the airport checkpoints. 

How to combat travel anxiety at the airport.

1. Listen to your favourite songs

Before you go to the airport, take some time and download your favorite music or even create an airport playlist. Whether you like music that gets you pumped, or prefer something more mellow, popping in your earbuds in can have a real calming effect. In fact, a recent study shows music helps reduce anxiety by up to 65%. 

2. Lavender oil

Lavender oil is renowned for calming anxiety by impacting the limbic system, the part of the brain that is in control of emotions. You can use it any time by simply inhaling the aromatherapy or placing the oil inside your wrists or on the back of your neck.

Many people note the immediate calming effect when they smell lavender oil. Lavender oil is easy to find at any big box store, pharmacy, online or specialty aromatherapy shops. Look for travel-friendly lavender oil options like inhalers or roll-on.

3. Use a meditation app

There are literally thousands of meditation apps to calm anxiety. If you find yourself with time on your hands at the airport, pop on your headphones and relax with a guided meditation. If you have noise-canceling headphones, they will help you be able to really block out the noise of the airport and focus on the meditation. One of my favourite apps is Calm, which has meditations and stories that are designed specifically for travel. Here is a great list of meditation apps to check out.

4. Reduce caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant and can make you jittery and trigger anxiety. Especially in stressful situations where you are already on high alert, caffeine in your system will make it much harder to stay calm. I recommend avoiding coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages a few hours before going to the airport. Opt for caffeine-free options at least until you get through situations that cause you stress and anxiety. 

5. Take a brisk walk

Being at the airport means there can be a lot of waiting around. Especially if you have a long layover or flight delays, sitting around with not a lot to do can trigger boredom, which leads a lot of space for anxious thoughts. Get up and take a brisk walk. Go find some stairs and do a few sets. Channeling your anxiety into exercise will help your brain release endorphins that will trigger that positive and upbeat feeling in your body. 

Other ways to reduce stress at the airport:

  • Many airports offer chair massage or even full spa treatments. A great way to de-stress while waiting for your flight.
  • Make a point of taking in the beautiful and interesting art installations that are popping up at airports around the world. Some airports also have art galleries!
  • Enjoy some retail therapy by checking out the airport shops. Some of the bigger airports actually feel like shopping centers.
  • Take advantage of exclusive airport lounges that are designed with the comfort of travelers in mind. Some credit cards or loyalty programs include airport lounge access as part of their package, or you can purchase a membership or one-time access. Check out Lounge Buddy which is a great app that can help you navigate the world of airport lounges.

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