March 13th was the last time we boarded a flight. When it became clear that Covid 19 was taking hold in the US, we cut our trip to Mexico short & headed home. The stress was written on my fellow passengers faces (mine too) during check-in, the flight & clearing customs back home. In the months ahead, hopefully, the US will get a handle on Covid, clearing the way for more travel. When the time comes, creating as much of a stress free travel environment as possible will dramatically improve your overall experience.
“I can’t control the wind but I can adjust the sail.”
– Ricky Skaggs
This is JauntyLife’s 2nd article of a series on travel strategies. The first article, Staying healthy while traveling, covered tips & strategies for making your travel environment as healthy as possible.
Airline travel is widely viewed as a stressful endeavor. If you fly with any frequency, you know what I’m talking about. Delays, limited personal space, air-rage, TSA, lost bags are all part of an air travel experience.
Lingering concerns about covid, in the months ahead, certainly won’t make it any less stressful. It’s not that we won’t love the destination. It’s just that the journey isn’t currently the reward.
So, in this edition, we focus on Stress free travel: making your travel experience as relaxing, comfortable & therefore as enjoyable an experience as possible.
Tips & Strategies to Ease Frustration
Here’s a few suggestions that might help minimize some of the stress around air travel & avoid some annoying pitfalls.
TSA’s Precheck & Global entry program
- Fly through security checkpoints & customs.
Global Entry allows for a much faster TSA Precheck line, you don’t have to remove your shoes, belts, and don’t need to take out laptops/ipads.
When returning from International flights, Global Entry provides kiosks to clear customs. Your passport and fingerprints are scanned, then you’re on your way.
With regular travel, TSA Precheck and Global entry can save hours of time & hassle!
How: Apply online, TSA does a background check, arrange a brief meeting with a TSA officer, TSA mails out a Global Entry card. For $100, your card is good for 5 years. $20 bucks a year for less aggravation? That’s a bargain!
Know the airport
Even though I fly out of LAX regularly (pre-corona), construction, terminal changes, and crowds keep me on my toes.
A few days before the flight, go online for 15 minutes to map out the airport. This is especially helpful if you’re not as familiar with an airport or airline.
I use iFly.com. The site has info on 700 airports around the world, including in-terminal navigation, packing restrictions, typical wait times for security, flight status, parking rates, layover ideas and details on services and amenities near you. You’ll be dialed in before you arrive. For about $5 bucks, you can also get the app for your smartphone.
Get to the airport early
Stress free travel begins with building an extra 30 minutes into your schedule. I know this sounds obvious but the extra time makes the uber ride, check-in, security line, all less stressful. If something goes wrong, no problem. You’ve got time. Having a sense of calm from the start sets the tone!
While a non-stop flight might cost a few bucks more, it does reduce multiple points of aggravation: Non-stops get you there quicker, no layovers, no missed connections, it’s more likely your bag will make it. (If you need to check bags, try Dyno Web enabled bag tags, to recover lost bags)
Pack less & carry on
Most of us pack too much stuff when we travel. One strategically packed carry-on bag & a backpack for personal items avoids checked bag fees or losing bags.
If you’re traveling more than a week, consider washing your clothes on the trip instead.
Here’s one of many videos online offering strategic suggestions on how to lighten the load.
Get extra leg room
In the last ten years, the airline’s efforts to churn out more profits has resulted in dramatically shrinking our personal space. Being confined in tight spaces for hours at a time isn’t good for your physical or mental well being. While this practice by airlines is appalling, it’s not going away any time soon 🙁 Pay the extra fee & reward yourself with a little extra space
Stand, Stretch, Walk, Pre-flight
Rather than sitting in a lounge chair before boarding, walk around the terminal, get some exercise, stretch. You’ll be sitting on the plane for hours. Some light exercise prior to boarding burns nervous energy, creates a sense of calm and might even promote a nap, after take off.
Assume something will not go to plan
Not to ruin the surprise, but airline travel is riddled with potential setbacks that will impact your trip: crowded check in, delayed flights, oversold, early arrival but no gate to pull into, baggage not at carousel, lost bags, long taxi line, massive line at Starbucks, so no coffee….
Know that when everything goes as planned, mark the day… that’s an exception! Crack a smile & carry on. Don’t let it rattle you!
Related – Staying Healthy While Traveling – Planes, Trains & Car Rentals
Gadgets to make Flying more Comfortable
For the most part, airlines have severely curtailed or abandoned efforts to make your flight a comfortable & satisfying experience. After you’ve SANITIZED your personal flight space, consider a few of these gadgets to make flying more comfortable. These small, creature comforts make the journey pleasant, leave you more refreshed when you arrive & move a little closer to stress free travel!
For your comfort –
Systane Ultra Lubricant
#1 Dr Recommended Brand of Artificial Tears
The dry environment of a temperature & pressure-controlled airplane cabin takes its toll on your eyes. Fresh eyes immediately make you feel less tired & frazzled.
Wraps for in-flight Comfort
When the flight’s chilly or for a little warmth to doze off. Packs easily.
Cotton Organic Travel Set (wrap+eyemask)
Cashmere and Wool Scarf
Hand held massager
Sitting for long periods of time means stiff muscles. Thergun mini is the on the go massage gun. With 150 minutes of battery life, a couple quick massages during flight promotes relaxation and stimulates muscles. Fits easily in a carry on, backpack or purse.
Gaiam – Ultimate Massager
***low cost option – Lacrosse Ball for quick massage
Lacrosse balls are an excellent, low tech massager for stiff flying muscles. Pin between you & your seat to massage a problem area or roll out the souls of your feet. Easy to pack.
GAIAM – Back and Neck Relief Kit
“Melt into “Ahhh” with the therapeutic warmth of our lavender-infused Back & Neck Relief Kit. Two reusable rice-filled wraps fit your body’s contours and can be microwaved for additional heat therapy.” – Gaiam
Sleep masks are a great way to shut out the environment around you & grab a cat nap (see our Cotton Organic Set, shown above!)
NIGHT – Silk Eye Mask
“The Silk Eye Mask with Cooling Gel was designed to keep the light out and boost your skin’s natural melatonin production for better sleep. Crafted in black mulberry silk, this mask also comes with a cooling gel that you can put in the fridge before use to reduce under-eye puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles.”
Noise cancelling headphones
Take off & landing reach 105 decibels & cruising speed is around 85 decibels. Exposure to 85+ decibels can cause temporary hearing problems. Long term exposure is unhealthy.
Prolonged noise takes away any sense of calm and promotes irritability.
Noise canceling headphones or earbuds give you control over a critical element of your environment. Some noise cancelling devices also have adapters to plug into inflight entertainment systems, for better sound quality.
Bose Noise Canceling 700 Over-Ear Headphones
Sony – Noise Canceling Wireless Earbuds
Sony – In-Ear Buds Noise Cancelling for Exercise
Marshall Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones
“The Mid A.N.C. Bluetooth Headphones were designed with top-of-the-line, noise-canceling capabilities and a 20-hour playtime capacity. Enjoy a 30-foot Bluetooth range, so you take can your sound with you everywhere you go.”
Low tech but effective – protecting your ears and calming your environment.
Silicone Ear Plugs
Premium Silicone Ear Plugs
Ear Planes Ear Plugs
Jowae Nourishing Lip Balm
Why suffer cracked lips from dry cabin air?
“JOWA offers a deeply moisturizing lip balm made from 99% natural ingredients. Containing extracts of Camellia oil and Sempervivum Tectorum, this protective balm is ideal to care for dry, damaged, and sensitive lips throughout the day.”
According to the Mayo Clinic…
“Compression stockings steadily squeeze your legs, helping your veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. They offer a safe, simple and inexpensive way to keep blood from stagnating.”
Sitting for long periods of time is no bueno… especially as we age. These socks are a cheap fix to refresh your legs and protect.
Gold-Toe Women’s Compression Socks
Compression Copper-Infused (unisex)
TRTL Travel pillow (Unisex)
There’s really no better use of your time than to get some rest on a flight & arrive refreshed
- The TRTL PILLOW is a scientifically proven travel pillow to keep your head in a better position when sleeping upright.
- Super soft fleece combined with a unique hidden internal support
- Only weighs ½ a pound & is machine washable
Stay hydrated on the flight
The cabin of an aircraft circulates dry air and is pressurized to the equivalent altitude of 6000-8000 feet, making dehydration an issue.
Proper hydration boosts immunity, staves off drowsiness, headaches, prepares you for better sleep later. Rapid hydration products, added to water, are the perfect on the go solution.
Liquid I.V. Hydration
If you’re new to meditation, check out Jaunty’s article, Tips on how to meditate . If there is ever a time to meditate, plane travel is a great opportunity to clear your mind, lower your blood pressure & boost your sense of well being. 15 to 20 minutes of flight time is a great investment of time!
We recommend apps such as Calm, Simply Being, or Headspace. You can also download meditation podcasts prior to your flight. Most good meditation apps have downloadable meditations, in case your wiFi service on board isn’t great
“Aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions.” “…some studies have shown that aromatherapy might have health benefits, including: Relief from anxiety and depression, Improved quality of life, particularly for people with chronic health conditions, Improved sleep” – Mayo Clinic
Deep Relax Roller Ball
“No matter what you’re doing, the Deep Relax Roller Ball can help you carve out those precious moments of relaxation with its restful ingredients. Perfect for the frequent traveler.”
Calm Down Wellness Roll-on
“Whether you’re trying to unwind from a stressful day at work or preparing yourself to face the music, the Calm Down Wellness Roll-On allows you to experience a necessary moment of peace and quiet with a flowery fragrance.”
Charlotte’s Web – Lavender+CBD Roll-On
Ideal for small areas like the temples, forehead, and wrists
Assuming CBD is legal in your area & where your traveling…
“A transporting blend of lavender, bergamot, and chamomile oils plus Charlotte’s Web CBD is an essential oil aromatherapy blend that rolls on with ease.” – Charlotte’s Web
Patchology – Calm Strips
“ Sometimes chilling out is easier said than done. So the next time you feel like popping off, pop one of these zero-calorie supplement strips instead. Formulated with Ginseng, Reishi, and Theanine, they work hard to minimize stress-induced irritability, promote an overall feeling of well-being, and provide a relaxing effect without drowsiness. Ommmmmm.” -Patchology
Cocktail mix kits
Buy some servi bar sized bottles of your favorite alcohol to take with you, blend with your carry on cocktail kit and your good to go. A cocktail can certainly take the edge off. Alcohol can also dehydrate, so moderation is a good idea too 🙂
W&P Porter – Carry-On Cocktail Kit
Carry-On Cocktail Kit & Set
Charlotte’s Web – Calm CBD Gummies
Calm in a tasty treat format!
Putting your thoughts to paper is a wonderful stress reliever. Jotting down the thoughts of the moment or a topic of interest organizes your thoughts and brings a sense of calm
I Want to Be Calm Book
“Each generation has to deal with its unique sets of stresses and anxieties. In I Want to Be Calm, Harriet Griffey examines the uniqueness of our historical moment and locates the different ways in which we can reclaim our calm and peacefulness. From meditation to relationships to decision making, this book covers a wide range of topics to recenter your thinking.”
Stress Free Travel is lofty goal worth chasing! Staying healthy while traveling is step one, closely followed by creating an in-flight experience that’s both full of creature comfort & as relaxing an experience as possible.