OMG! Am I the only one who arrives at the airport in the middle of the night in order to catch an early morning flight? I swear, I am there early enough to turn the runway lights on!
In what I call my “prior life”, the airport stressed me out so much that it would literally take my entire vacation to recover and relax from my airport anxiety. I realized that this was crazy! I stressed so much that I was a complete basket case before I even left home. I decided that it was time to have a completely different outlook, and I decided then and there to change my mindset. I now go into vacation mode the second I leave my house. How do you do this you ask? Simple…..read on….
To begin with, I travel solo. This eliminates any stress that would be caused by my travelling companion. I realize that not everybody has this option, but trust me, it definitely makes a huge difference in the stress levels.
Whenever possible, I pay a little extra money and book a direct flight. A flight with a stopover is bearable, but connecting flights can be a nightmare! My very first flight had a connecting flight in Atlanta. I had only 20 minutes to catch my next flight, and as luck would have it, the gate was at the complete opposite end of the airport. I felt like I was running the Amazing Race in order to catch the train and make it to my gate in time for departure. Never again have I done that!
I always print my boarding pass the night before departure. This can be done within 24 hours of departure time and it sure saves a lot of time. The less I have to do at the airport the better.
Transportation to Airport
I hire a limousine or take airlink to the airport. I relax and have my morning coffee while on my way to the airport, which I need given that it’s always in the middle of the night. On arrival, I am dropped off right at the front door so that I don’t have to drive around in circles to find parking. I also don’t get charged the exorbitant parking fees charged by the airport. If I can make any recommendation at all, this is it! A must for me when I travel. This is a win, win and a must do!
Check-In and Baggage Drop
Many airports now have self-serve baggage drops. Since I have already checked in the night before, I print my baggage tags once I arrive at the airport, drop my bag on the appropriate conveyor, and I’m off to the customs lineup.
Okay, okay, so there isn’t much that I can do to control this stage, but given that I usually arrive in the middle of the night, the lineups aren’t very long. To ensure smooth and swift clearance, I never pack any liquids in my carry-on, my jewellery is off, belt is off, shoes are off, and everything is ready to plop into the tote to be cleared.
Usually within 15 minutes after arriving at the airport, I am through security and now have some time to kill. I use this time to browse the shops, pickup my nuts and water, etc. for the flight, and then I go for breakfast (or lunch). I prefer a sit down restaurant as I find them more relaxing. A glass of wine always helps as well, if the bar is open. By the time I am finished eating, it is pretty much boarding time. If there is time left before boarding, I pull out my book or hook into the free WiFi, or simply sit back and do some people watching.
Above all else, remember that “shit happens”, so stay calm and relaxed. Don’t let things get to you, YOU ARE ON VACATION!