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How To Beat Travel Anxiety

Mastering the art of the airport.

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The TSA has just announced that it will be cutting back on the number of flyers who receive PreCheck, the pre-screening initiative that allows travelers to move through security quickly. For those of you who have been awarded this luxury, you know how much it reduces your stress levels.

Whether it's the inevitable long lines (security and Starbucks), the frantic shuffling attempts to locate IDs, or the parents pre-boarding with their "small" 16-year-old children, airports induce stress. Here are some invaluable tricks (all non-medicinal!) to reduce your travel anxiety – and the likelihood of releasing your frustration on the nearest gate agent.

Early is late

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There's no harm in arriving to the airport earlier than you think you need to. Use the extra time to read a magazine, grab a coffee, and bask in the glory that is you not missing your flight.

Dress for success

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Fly through security by putting belts and other metals in your carry-on at home, and leaving them there until past the metal detectors. Slip-on shoes are an added bonus both for speed and convenience – just remember to wear or bring socks because, ew, airport floors.

Centralize your essentials

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It's a hassle to search through a big travel tote every time you need your wallet, phone, or earbuds. Instead, keep your essentials in one, easily accessible location, like a small cross-body bag or stylish fanny pack (key word stylish), which can be stored in your larger bag upon boarding.

Be strategic

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Avoid getting into a security line behind strollers, lace-up shoes, and apparent novices. While not fun, the "which security line is faster" game is one that you can win!

Charge up

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If you followed Tip #1 and have ample time before you board, search out the inactive boarding areas in your terminal for elusive electric outlets so that you can recharge all your devices.

Avoid customer service

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Sad, but true. By the time you’ve run to Customer Service and gotten to the front of that often painfully-long line, your options will have dwindled and those last few seats on the next-best alternative will have been long gone.

…Instead, dial 800

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If you have to make a quick change, then stay put and call your airline's '800' number. The phone representative can make whatever adjustments you need in far less time.

Download the app

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Having your airline app is an often overlooked, but clutch, move. Not only will it provide you with gate, seat, upgrade, etc. information, but, if you sign up for flight notifications (an absolute must), you will often find out – even before the gate agent - about delays and other changes.

Plan ahead

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To be really proactive, use the app to see where your aircraft is coming from, and then sign up for notifications for that flight as well. If that plane is running late, well, yours might end up that way, too. Knowledge is power.

Let it go

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Acknowledge that what goes wrong on a travel day – flight delay, cancellation, etc. – is out of your control. Do your best to remain calm and be kind to those who try to help you.

Tune in and tune out

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Once you are all set up with your flight notifications, pop in those earbuds to virtually escape the boarding area mob scene by listening to some tunes or a meditation podcast.

Refuel

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Bring your own coffee on board. Juggling a too-small, lidless cup with milk and packets of sweetener in a cramped and turbulent space makes for a high-risk situation. Also, based on its foul taste, airplane water just can't be good for you. 

Do a little dance

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It may seem wacky, but a good way to get rid of anxiety jitters is to move. Find a song that really gets you going, and engage in some subtle knee-bouncing, head-bobbing, and hip-shaking.

Hold back

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If you are boarding a small plane that requires rollers be left on the jetway, try boarding later in the process; last bags stowed are usually first to come off at the other end.

Make some space

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Put your arm rest down when you get in the seat as you will most likely want some space between you and your seat mate. Establish that barrier before he or she gets there to avoid that awkward-obvious move once they're seated.

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