I recently had the experience of an airplane mechanical malfunction that needed to be addressed before we could board our flight. One would hope that the reaction to such a thing would be good:
“Oh thank god, I’m glad we have the ability to foresee potential problems and address them to prevent catastrophes.”
A majority of people did not have this optimistic view point. Instead, this majority immediately became anxious and lined up in a queue to complain. They became concerned that they would miss their connections, that their time was supremely valuable, and that they were needed elsewhere.
I challenge you to not be a part of the stressed majority when things beyond your control go wrong. You will give yourself more grey hairs fretting about missed connections and being “on time” than if you just lay back and accept what you are given in any situation. From a standpoint of pure vanity, there is an odd sense of satisfaction watching a group of people freak out over something they have no control over, while you sit cool, comfortable, and happy as a button.
In addition to having a good attitude and patience, there are certain things you can keep with you when you travel to help keep comfortable when you are met with situations where you may be stuck waiting. Here are some things that I always make sure I have when traveling.
A physical book that does not rely on internet or electricity to read.
This is a great source of learning and entertainment that won't drain the battery in your cellphone. It allows for the experience of a speedier passage of time when in-between places and, in addition to improving your attention span and making you more well spoken, they also help with character traits like patience, which is arguably the most important component of reducing travel anxiety. Crossword puzzles and magazines also play well here.
A golf ball somewhere on my person.
Golf balls are cheap hard little roller balls that work great for giving one’s self a foot massage before or during a flight. We are all familiar with restless leg syndrome and coming out of flights feeling wonky from sitting for so long. Rolling over the fascia of the balls, arches, and heels of the feet has a positive correlation with the well-being of the hips. The modality of reflexology supposes that all of the major meridians of the body terminate in the feet; and by stimulating those terminal energetic points, you can stimulate and bring vitality to other parts of the body in an otherwise sedentary activity like flying.
A way to shut out both light and sound (ear-plugs, eye-mask, and melatonin).
Sleep is another great way to pass the time on a plane or at an airport. Darkness and quiet certainly help to make that happen. I would recommend Emergen-Z as well, which is a Vitamin C supplement taken with water that also gives you a healthy dose of melatonin that gives you a restful, dream-fueled sleep, and does not have addictive properties.
Several food bars purchased outside of the airport.
Food is often expensive at an airport and power and granola-bars can be a great way to stay fed during those in transit.
A water bottle of any variety.
I keep a thermos for hot water (for making tea) and a Nalgene for regular water to stay hydrated on flights. They say we lose a good amount of water when flying and that a large portion of jet-lag can be attributed to this loss of water in the body. You should not then put your health in the hands of over-busied flight attendants. Fill up your water bottles after you’ve gone through security and you’ll be covered. Another tactic for hydration is to lotion up your skin so that you don’t lose quite as much water through your skin.
A pashmina for warmth and a fan for coolness.
When temperature is regulated by climate control there may be moments where you are subjected to unexpected heat in winter; and cold air-conditioned rooms in summer. You may be layered up with wool coats and then put on an airplane that is blasting heat, or even worse, you could be in shorts and a t-shirt and walking into a space that is AC’d to the max. A pashmina is a large packable scarf/blanket made of special material (usually silk and wool) that can provide ample warmth during unexpected moments of cold. On the other hand, a small fan can provide a huge amount of relief when things get hot out of nowhere.
Baby wipes, baby wipes, baby wipes.
If you have ever been traveling for more than a half day, you know that crummy, sticky, feeling we get under our clothes. A baby wipe is a like a portable shower, sponge bath, or hand sanitizer that can help you feel renewed from that gunky, yucky state that happens after a day of traveling.
So what have we talked about here? Essentially, I want you to be entertained (book), exercised (golf ball), fed (granola-bars), hydrated (water-bottles), temperature regulated (pashmina and fan), and cleaned (baby wipes). If you have all of those things, what else do you really need?
Do you really need to be in that place at that time? Is it that important? If its out of your control, won't people understand? And if they don’t, shouldn’t you cut that toxicity out of your life?
Come what may.
You really don’t need that much to be content. So relax because you are going to get to where you’re going eventually. Whether you are sitting in traffic, stuck on a subway, or waiting in line at the DMV, you can stress about it, or you can accept it. And the latter is a much healthier option than the former. And if you can, challenge yourself to do so without the use of your cell phone, because there may be a time where life requires you to function without one.