Travel can be stressful. Long airport lines, flight delays and cramped airplane cabins can turn your relaxing holiday or business trip into a giant headache. But follow these tips and you can transform chaotic travel periods into a time to clear your mind and decompress.
1. Take a break
While you may want to go over and above to impressive your boss, put your work on pause while travelling. A recent survey on global business travel conducted by American Express found that more and more business jetsetters are striving for balance while on the go. Instead of using flight time and waiting periods to prep presentations and send last minute emails, they’re unplugging. Even on planes that have Wi-Fi capabilities, 61% of travelers choose to remain disconnected on board, opting to watch an in-flight movie or read a book.
The key to unplugging at 37,000 feet? Pack stress-relieving essentials.
“For me, this list is topped by my 3M foam earplugs, my noise-cancelling Sony earbuds and my iPod loaded with calming songs like Come Away with Me by Norah Jones,” said Trish Friesen, Transat Holidays’ Travel Expert and Editor-in-Chief of Trip Styler. “Take a deep breath and transport yourself into vacation-ville the moment you step on the plane.”
2. Stay hydrated
Air travel can leave your lips dry and your mouth parched. Make sure you guzzle as much water as you can before, during and after your flight. A tasty trick? Try drinking coconut water. It’s full of electrolytes and potassium, not to mention its sweet, yummy taste. Plus, it doesn’t have nearly as much sugar as sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade.
Vita Coconut water recently signed a deal with 10 of America’s largest airports, including John F. Kennedy International airport in New York City, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Boston Logan International Airport. The 100% pure coconut water contains almost 700 mg of potassium and approximately 15 times more electrolytes than the average sports drink, meaning it will keep you quenched at 30,000 feet.
3. Stretch it out
Yoga can be a great way to relieve tension during long trips. While downward dog might attract the wrong attention, there are some more subtle stretches that can keep your neck kink free. In their book, Airplane Yoga:Your Emergency Manual for Relieving Inflight Stress, Rachel Lehmann-Haupt and Bess Abrahams suggest yoga postures you can use all the way from the airport security line to take off. Our favourite? The seated spine roll. This posture can be done in your airplane seat or waiting area chair. Just roll forward on the hips and let the chest puff out, and then rolling back on the pelvis, undulating the spine by moving forward and back. You can curl all the way up to the head, being careful not to snap the neck.
Keep your blooding flowing by keeping your limbs moving.
“While on long flights, I make sure to get up every hour to walk the aisles doing some crescent lunges in order to get the blood and lymph flowing,” said Rachel Nelson, author of the Traveling Yogi blog. “High elevation is horrible for the lymphatic system and circulation, so it’s important to move as much as you can.”
Another way Nelson stays limber on her long hauls? Using the flight attendant area at the back of the plane to do a few quick forward bends and stretches.
Meditating can calm you down anywhere anytime. Qatar Airlines is one of the latest airlines to include guided meditation videos as part of its in-flight entertainment system.
The videos are produced in conjunction with the Chopra Centre. If your go-to airline doesn’t offer meditation on board, download a meditation app on your smart phone. Simply Being and Calm are both great apps that offer a variety of guided meditations.
Many airports also have a meditation room or interfaith chapel that you escape to for a few minutes of peace and quiet before you take off.
5. Put yourself in the flight crew’s shoes
Sometimes all it takes to bring stress levels back down is a shift in perspective.
Remember that flight attendant’s deal with the cramped conditions of air cabin life every day. That means dealing with dozens of crying babies and cranky passenger complaints.
When you arrive at your vacation destination, chances are your flight crew has four more flights before they’re done for the day, and there’s no holiday for them when the plane lands.
“Consider that their office is on stage in a capsule at 37,000 feet. I go into each flight I take knowing every passenger comes from a different perspective and carries their own set of baggage,” said Friesen. “Knowing this, my method is to act the way I want others to treat me: helpful and courteous. Humility and grace have a multiplying effect, especially in a tight space.”