Sometimes as I wander through airports with a smile on my face, I get strange looks from people. Then I realize I’m one of the few people smiling and it starts to make sense; many people see airports as either frightening or rage inducing. I can almost understand them being unhappy or shocked that I’m enjoying my stroll through the terminals.
I’m continually amazed how peaceful I find airports.
— Jeremy Phillips (@jerephil) February 23, 2014
Not everyone finds airports peaceful, I get it. I didn’t always either.
@jerephil that may be a warning sign my friend
— Tony (@UCsip) February 23, 2014
Like most things in life though, it’s about making a choice.
@UCsip It’s a choice I make to look at the bright side. ;)
— Jeremy Phillips (@jerephil) February 24, 2014
Easier said than done though, right? Yeah, but there are a few simple things you can do to make sure you have a smooth(er) journey. I’ll go over them at a high level in this post, but feel free to ask me questions in the comments or on twitter if you have any specific questions.
I enjoy watching people get ready for travel. Don’t ask me why, I just do. It’s interesting to see the different attitudes that people use to mentally prepare themselves as well. Some people see travel as an adventure, full of new and exciting places and events that they’ve possibly never experienced anymore; this is me. Some are indifferent and treat air travel as nothing more than a large bus, which is probably the most rational mental state to be in as that’s really all it is. The rest of the people I see are pretty evenly split between either sheer terror, rage at the idea of walking through security and getting on a plane, or a combination of the two.
I freely admit I’ve been through all these states myself when traveling. However only two of them are really healthy for your psyche, and only one of them is any fun, and why not have fun? Treat the whole thing like an adventure and you’ll enjoy it more, especially considering you’re going to be stuck in a magical metal tube miles above the earth’s surface for hours on end.
Oh, and don’t think about the physics keeping the ~100,000 pounds of metal, jet fuel, and humans ~35,000 feet above a corn field. Most people wouldn’t understand them anyways and when you’re looking out the window, trying to rationalize the fact that you’re actually flying, you could find you need to borrow a Xanax from the single serving friend next to you if you’re not careful. If you have to take benzodiazepines while flying, you’re likely not treating it as an adventure.
Take Your Time
When I see people rush through airports and then wind up at the gate next to them, where they still have 40 minutes left until their flight is even scheduled to board (let alone actually board), I’m really quite curious what is driving them to ignore all the cool murals and such along the way, like this super happy one in Denver, CO:
Seriously, take your time and enjoy the sights. Spend 5 minutes walking down a hall way and you could find a hidden nook filled with rocking chairs facing floor to ceiling windows overlooking the runways like in Buffalo, NY. If you have 20 extra minutes and there is a SkyTrain, take a spin or two around the airport; I’ve seen gorgeous sunsets from the SkyTrain in Dallas and awe inspiring sunrises from the SkyTrain in Detroit. The theme here, in case you missed it, is to engage your inner child and explore! You’ll be amazed what you can find.
Ignore the TSA
I find conversations about the TSA to be quite possibly the most interesting, mainly as the thought of TSA agents used to be rage inducing for me. Why? Simple, they have no standards – not even between shifts at the same airport, let alone between airports – and they are frequently just not nice people. I don’t worry about it anymore though. I check my luggage and I’ve pared down my carry on to bare essentials so it takes me less than 30 seconds to get everything out of my bag, off my body, and in the tubs for the x-ray. I don’t even mind the full body scanner anymore, but then again I’ve already had all the kids I plan on having. ;)
Quite simply, all you need to do is take off your coat or sweater and put it in a bin with your belt, put your shoes on the belt, put your laptop in a bin by itself and walk on through. You will get randomly popped for various things, but it’s not as common as you’d expect. Probably one out of every 50 times I spin through, I get pulled aside for either random explosives screening (they just swab your hands and look embarrassed while you both wait for the results) or they want to dig through my bag because “You have too much [change|cables|stuff] in your bag and I need to check it”.
I find that if you stand still and smile at them silently the whole time they go faster with whatever they are doing, and if you end up in a pat down a “good job” combined with a smile and a wink makes a world of difference to the speed with which they finish patting down your nether regions. Who knew spreading cheer could effect a work ethic so positively?
Have A Meal
For your own sake though, don’t make it fast food. The pressure in the plane will be screwing with your body anyways. Instead go find a restaurant and have a quick meal, or even just an appetizer. Yes, it will be mildly overpriced but most (not all) airport restaurants make pretty good food. Not only do you get some tasty – and hopefully healthy – food prior to takeoff, but there is something to be gained from the peace you’ll find in munching on a BBQ quesadilla.
While you’re eating take the time to drink some extra water as you’ll end up dehydrated on the plane otherwise, which isn’t as fun as it sounds when you’re the one slowly shriveling up.
Bring A Book
I stopped counting the number of people that I’ve watched get on a plane and end up either sleeping or staring at the bulkhead because they didn’t bring anything to read, naively expecting there to be in-flight movies on every flight. Yeah, there isn’t. So do yourself a favor and bring something to read, either a book or a stack of magazines. If you prefer a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader, you can now use them from takeoff to landing on most airlines, provided you disable all WiFi and/or cellular functions.
Again, if you have any questions, or completely disagree with me for some reason, feel free to either comment below or hit me up on twitter.