5 Air Travel Tips for Seamless Self Care
Urban Wild Studio is a location-independent creative agency, and we love to find inspiration in exposure to new places, people and ideas. So I travel a lot, and I know a lot of you do too!
I often hear from friends that travel can be tiring and stressful, and I completely agree. But after many trips and lots of trial and error, I have a few self-care tips that keep me human, happy and feeling good on those travel days. A couple of them might surprise you (ahem, the very last tip). Please comment with your favorite travel-day self-care rituals, I'd love to hear them!
1. Check in Early to Snag the Best Seat
In many cases you can review and change your seat assignment for a better in-flight experience. It only takes a minute; snag that aisle seat at the front of the plane, or the window seat that is not over the wing.
I have been able to get entire rows to myself by switching my seat during online check-in. It's not always possible, but when there's an option it sure is sweet to have that extra space – especially on a long flight.
Seat flexibility lets you stick to certain healthy habits. I know I have to stay hydrated throughout my flights in order to feel like a real human person at my destination. So whenever possible, I aim for aisle seats that allow me freedom to get up relatively often. Others love the window seat for a little extra nap support – to ensure their beauty sleep.
2. Take Advantage of In-flight Meal Options
If you're on a trans-Atlantic flight, it's likely that your airline will give you a meal – and most airlines offer alternative meals for special diets. If you're eating gluten-free or vegan, know that you may not have to bring your own food to travel, or get by with just lettuce greens and pretzels.
Just make sure you select your special meal through your airline a couple of weeks in advance of your flight. (Of course, we're still talking about airline food – not gourmet. But just know you have options.)
3. Pack Your Carry-ons with your Full Day of Flying in Mind
Consider bypassing the baggage claim and re-claiming that much time in your day by carrying on everything. I use a standard piece of carry-on luggage and a smaller tote or backpack for all trips under two weeks.
If you think ahead a little, you can avoid fumbling and repacking your stuff once you're at the airport. I think of my smaller bag as my purse, the bag I do not want to get separated from at any cost – so I pack into it everything I might need close-at-hand on all my connecting flights. Passport and ticket, money, snacks, laptop, phone, chargers, an extra layer in case of a cold flight. To stay fresh during trans-Atlantic travel, I even pack a toothbrush, lipstick and deodorant.
And then my carry-on holds everything for the destination: clothes, toiletries, shoes, etc.
If you pack this way, you won't have to get into your carry-on all day. No need to worry about that bag as it goes through the security scanners. No need to frustrate the flight attendants and other passengers by crawling over them and opening the overhead bin during a flight.
Plus, if the flight is overfull and your carry-on must be checked, you can simply let it go without having to rummage through it first. No stress.
4. My Favorite Pre-flight Ritual for a Good Day of Travel
We all know we should drink plenty of water, but on travel days this can be tough. So I have a ritual: when I am heading to the airport, I walk out the door with a full 16-ounce bottle of water. I sip on the way, and drink whatever is left while waiting in the security line. Then I stash the bottle in my carry-on to refill once inside the terminal. With this little habit you can't help but hydrate on your day of flying.
5. Stress-Free Airport Quick-Tips
- If you can, head to the airport early on the day of your flight. This may seem intuitive, but for most people it's not a habit. If it doesn't cut into your day too much, give yourself an extra hour at the airport. With that kind of time, you won't be phased at all by waiting in security lines, finding your gate. You can even get a cup of coffee, find one of the best seats at your gate area (since few other people will be there), and get ahead on email, people-watch, read or meditate.
- Once at the airport, if you're able to choose a security line, look out for one with people who look like they travel frequently – business travelers or those with fewer bags and knick-knacks. These people know how to pack and move through these lines efficiently, and make the line noticeably faster. (It's like the people in line at the grocery store who have their credit card out and ready to pay when it's their turn!)
- If you're at the airport and feeling tense, or find the people-watching overwhelming, try this little trick. Some airports have yoga rooms, and all airports have a few quiet restrooms. Find one of those, take a few deep breaths and soak in the quiet. (I'm an ambivert, so I do this for a breather on long travel days, or when I'm at an especially busy and chaotic airport.)