Thanksgiving

Airports are Stressful—Let Us Help You With That

November 17, 2016

So you’re flying home for the holidays. You’ve had your presents mailed directly there, trimmed your luggage down to a carry-on, and exchanged 400 emails with your mother about menu planning. All you have left to do is make it through the airport and onto the plane. Here are a few pieces of wisdom to make the whole thing go without a hitch.

Bring your own snacks.

Maybe you ate a super filling smoothie bowl before heading to the airport. Maybe you have your heart set on Panda Express once you get to your gate. But next thing you know, your flight is delayed six hours, the Panda Express in your terminal is under construction, and you’re fighting airport pigeons for peanuts you find on the mangy carpet. So pack something, even if you don’t have time to prepare a whole meal—some wasabi peas, a candy bar, a couple apples. You will not regret this.

Air travel is a great excuse to drink a martini at 11AM or a bloody mary at 11PM.

Airports are weird societal spaces that exist between destinations and timezones. If you’re killing time at the airport and trying to stave off the stress of holiday travel, just embrace it. Sidle up to a bar and order something that makes no sense. Order a breakfast whiskey or a margarita digestif. The great thing about airports is that there are no rules. (Just kidding, there are a lot of rules.)

Airports are weird societal spaces that exist between destinations and timezones. Sidle up to a bar and order something that makes no sense.

Do not practice your musical instrument at the airport.

Oh, you have a ukulele? Cool! Do you know any songs on it? Oh cool, so just that one Jason Mraz song? Oh wow, you’re going to play it right now for me, in this confined space that we’re sharing together with several hundred other unsuspecting bystanders?

Bring at least one blanket-like article of clothing.

Maybe it’s a gigantic scarf; maybe it’s an impossibly soft sweater; maybe it’s a regal caftan. Bring at least one soft, voluminous article of clothing that you can use as a blanket on the plane and as an extra shield against the cold when you’re waiting for your parents to swing by the airport with their station wagon.

Put your bag down, stay a while; snag that flight credit.

Get free money.

At high-traffic times like Thanksgiving and Christmas, airlines often overbook flights and then have to bribe passengers to switch their flights with free credit. If you have a few hours of flexibility to get to your destination, keep an ear out for these offers. You could make $1000 to $2000 of credit just for tolerating the airport for a couple extra hours.

Hoard airplane snacks.

Are you still super full from the peanuts you ate off the floor earlier? It doesn’t matter. Accept the bag of chips and the small packet of cookies that the flight attendant offers you. You will be hungry on your cab ride from the airport or on your flight back at the end of the weekend, or in two months when you’re out of groceries, and you will find a small, crumpled bag of chips in your backpack and it will be the best gift of all.

If you’re stressed...

... Just take a deep breath and remember that everyone else at the airport is probably stressed too. Your problems are unique and special and important and also exactly the same as everybody else’s. If you start to feel like your temper is being tested by the abysmal chaos of holiday travel, take a deep breath and smile at someone who looks like they need it.

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Tell us your best airport strategies in the comments.

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17 Comments

Niknud November 21, 2016
I should also mention that those little mini bar bottles of booze you can get at the liquor store....they're three ounces or less. And whole you may get funny looks while running your 2 quart ziploc baggie full of baileys and whiskey through the X-ray machine, it is totally legit. Right in the same bag as your infant Tylenol and tiny tube of toothpaste. Makes the airport coffee muuuuch better. :)
 
Linda B. November 21, 2016
Best advice I've read yet, and comical. . .way to go! We all could use the right kind of smile in a stressful situation.
 
Cindy November 21, 2016
Best tips I've seen...very practical. I also bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it at a fountain...just in case lines are too long or prices too high to buy one before I board.
 
Lainie November 18, 2016
I would say skip the drinks until you get to your destination.<br /><br />Bring plenty of snacks, your water bottle, reading materials (electronic and not), soothing music, something to use as a blanket and a small pillow.<br /><br />Remember to smile and greet the poor soul working behind the counter and don't freak out over every minor irritation.
 
stingraystirs November 17, 2016
Great tips and LOVE the bag!<br />
 
Incognito November 17, 2016
Did you know there is a Warren-Tricomi Salon at La Guardia now? It's called WTGO and is located in Delta's Terminal C. Twice, I have had my hair blown dry there while waiting for a delayed flight. The stylists were good and I arrived at my destination looking great. Can't say anything good about the food at said terminal,though. Despite the recent renovation, its worse than ever and very expensive.
 
Niknud November 17, 2016
Now that the kiddos are out of diapers/strollers, the family and I travel with backpacks only for any trip under 10 days. Sounds impossible but it makes traveling sooo much better. No checked bags, no fighting for overhead bin space, no lost luggage. So what if you only have 2 outfits - it's totally worth the lack of hassle!
 
HalfPint November 17, 2016
Invest in a good pair of noise cancelling headphones. Not only is it great for the plane ride, it's great for the chaos of the airport where the noise level is enough to drive anyone to drink. You don't even have to listen to music or podcasts. The headphones truly knock down the noise level. You can still hear everything, but it's no longer an "in your face" ordeal. Sure you can use earplugs, but they are not nearly as comfortable or effective.
 
Lilismom November 18, 2016
Can you recommend good ones?
 
Anne G. November 18, 2016
Bose are the best (I have used the headphones and earbuds) but I've also used a cheaper version by Sony and they helped a lot too. Read reviews on Amazon!
 
Shirl November 17, 2016
The bag, please give info, please!
 
Kenzi W. November 17, 2016
https://food52.com/shop/products/3071-waxed-canvas-weekender!
 
lisa November 17, 2016
Ha! I had the same question about the bag. Thanks!
 
Ljw C. November 17, 2016
great pointers - love the bar tip. Can you share the bag brand/type that's she's carrying in the photo?
 
Kenzi W. November 17, 2016
It's this! https://food52.com/shop/products/3071-waxed-canvas-weekender
 
Ljw C. November 17, 2016
Thank you - great bag!<br />
 
melissa November 17, 2016
i actually thought this article was going to be "make the airport less stressful by buying this bag"!