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How To Deal With Airport Stress

Your flight is booked, and now it's AIRPORT time. Airports can be stressful places nowadays, and these tips are designed for stress reduction...

Don't pack your bags a half hour before leaving. You know those vital papers, that book you wanted to read, or even your passport will mysteriously DISAPPEAR at the last minute. Always pack the night BEFORE, and you'll find everything right there where it should be!

Airport stress starts the moment you leave home. There's no worse way to start your journey than sitting in TRAFFIC a couple of miles from the airport, watching the minutes tick by. Expect a lot of traffic and that your journey will take extra time. Aim to arrive at the airport two hours early (usually required for International flights). Then if there are traffic DELAYS, you've still got plenty of time. You'll arrive at the airport relaxed and near the front of the check-in line. And if you get your first choice of seat you'll feel even better!

At check-in, there are usually multiple lines you can choose from. Which looks quickest? If you see lots of FAMILIES and children in a line, avoid it. By the time they've found all their tickets and sorted their luggage jumble, they've taken twice the time of a couple or single person. Look for a short check-in line that's not easy to see. Look at each end of the check-in aisles -- maybe there's a valid check-in hidden by a pillar, that few people see. This happened to me just recently, and cut a half hour off my check-in time. Better yet, consider airlines that allow you to check in before you leave home via the INTERNET -- this can allow you to just breeze through the check-in lines.

Ask for some guidance at the check-in. When that screen flashes 'Go to Gate', it's much less stressful if you know how LONG it will take for you to walk there from the lounge or waiting area. All of your stress-reduction efforts go down the tubes if your flight leaves in 5 minutes, but your gate is way the other side of the airport terminal. Sometimes you also have to go through additional SECURITY or another passport check at your gate -- and may find a line waiting there. I once travelled out of Spain, where a long passport control line stood between me and my gate, where departure was scheduled in 15 minutes. Try to avoid this unnecessary stress by checking in advance.

If you travel often you might get free entry to an airport executive lounge. If not, you can often pay a small amount to use it. The ideal low-stress airport experience begins in the executive lounge. Away from all the airport hustle and bustle, you can RELAX with free drinks and nibbles. Read a newspaper or magazine, and you're soon in just the right frame of mind for your journey.

Hopefully, when you got the car, you thoroughly inspected its condition -- and have paperwork showing any PRE-EXISTING scratches or dents. When you drop the car off, be sure to point these out as pre-existing problems before you sign off on the return. Check it over with the delivery guy, or when you go to pick it up. Also check the terms to see if you need to return the car GAS tank full or nearly empty. I once made the mistake of returning it full when I didn't need to -- the car rental company refused to refund the cost. And be sure to CLEAN up any serious messes. It's okay to return a car dusty from driving a couple hundred miles -- but if your kid sicks inside, or someone spills coffee, or drops a burger and fries, then clean it up! If you don't the car rental company will add an extra cleaning charge onto your credit card -- not the way to a stress-free trip.

Be prepared to stay comfortable and healthy when you fly, and you will reduce a lot of the stress associated with arriving at your destination. For example, the air you breathe on a plane is very dry. If you want to avoid DEHYDRATION bring a bottle of water with you and sip on it during the journey. If you suffer from motion sickness, you can take precautions before you get on the plane. It's too late when you've already started to feel sick. Take a motion sickness drug BEFORE you get on the plane. Some can make you drowsy, but that's good on a long flight! And airplanes can get quite cold, so always keep a jacket or sweatshirt nearby if you need them. Some airlines provide blankets, but don't count on it.

Okay, you've just landed at your destination airport, and got your luggage back. What do you do now? No idea. Feel those stress levels rising again! Before you travel, check out your DESTINATION on the internet. You should pre-plan your bus, subway, or train journey from the airport before you leave home. Or know that your hotel is close enough to the airport that you can grab a taxi when you get there. But be familiar with your GROUND transportation options when you arrive.


Neil Stelling is Marketing Manager of New York based, DigiLectual Inc. Neil's extensive business experience spans more than 25 years. He focuses on business development, marketing and strategy, but also follows personal interests in various sports. He may be contacted at or visit his website at

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