The Simple Tip For Relaxing Before Your Flight

Arriving in an exotic, faraway locale might be exciting, but the process of getting there isn't always as enjoyable. According to a 2020 survey by The Points Guy, over 55% of respondents said they found air travel to be more stressful than going to work. Dealing with airport security, packing regulations, flight changes, and other hassles could make even the calmest of travelers' cortisol soar.

Then there are the pre-flight jitters. Cleveland Clinic notes that an estimated 25 million American adults struggle with an extreme fear of flying, though others may simply feel a little rattled wondering if their carry-on bag will fit or whether their seatmates will be noisy.

No matter what your specific triggers are, flying can cause a lot of stress. However, peace of mind can be found, even in the middle of a bustling airport. All you need to do is choose the right gate — and, no, it isn't the one listed on your boarding pass. Instead, head to a quieter gate to find some much-needed tranquility when traveling.

Spend your free time at a quiet gate

If you're a seasoned traveler, you've likely heard that you should arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight time (or earlier, if you're heading overseas). "We recommend the two hours so that travelers have enough time to get dropped off or park their cars, check their bags and get through security to their gates," Heather Lissner, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport spokesperson, explained to USA Today. However, this window can often leave extra time, and there's no need to sit around at your gate for an hour or more — even if that's what your fellow passengers might be doing.

Scrambling to your gate early, where you'll likely find a lot of noise and other buzzing travelers, can make it hard to relax pre-flight. You might have to compete for seating or stand in a long line at the nearby restroom — things that can add to your stress. Choosing to wait at an unoccupied gate (look for one not in use or that doesn't have a flight departing for several hours) can make it easier to unwind leading up to the boarding call. Just be sure to keep an eye on the time or set an alarm so you'll know when to get up and move locations.

Relaxing airport activities to try

Even if you find a mostly deserted gate to pass the time in, you'll want to stick to standard airport etiquette when relaxing — that means no makeshift bed on the floor or loud music leaking from your devices. Even still, you'll likely find it easier to get comfy and chill out in a quieter gate than if you were in a busier part of the airport.

Make the most of this time by trying some relaxing activities or rituals. Pop in some earplugs or put on noise-canceling headphones and have a little airport meditation session. According to a 2014 research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine, meditation can help manage stress and anxiety — just what you might need before heading 40,000 feet up in the air. Stretching can also be an easy way to relax, while also preparing your body for hours sitting on a plane.

Other ways to relax in a quiet gate include journaling, reading a book, or listening to a podcast — really, the options are limitless. Then, when it's time to head to your gate, you might find yourself feeling extra calm and composed, even if your surroundings aren't.