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Tips for Surviving Holiday Travel Without Turning into the Grinch

Holiday cheer at the airport

Tis the season…to be stressed out and grumpy at the airport! Fa la la!

This most wonderful time of the year disgorges millions of travelers into airport concourses. The resulting mayhem is enough to thrill the cold heart of the Grinch. But you don’t have to fall into that pit of despair: yes, Virginia, you can sit in the midst of the chaos and retain a bubble of holiday peace around you. As you prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for the travel travails ahead of you, remember these tips:

Get Your Zen On. A positive attitude goes a long way at the airport, regardless of the time of year; at the holidays, it’s even more important. I suggest you re-read my Anecdote to Airport Stress (here), but the gist is this: stay positive, go with the flow, and maintain perspective. Put your holiday game face on before you leave the house, and tell yourself (over and over, until you believe it) that everything is going to be fine. No, better than fine – it’s going be downright merry.

Give Yourself the Gift of Time. Leave for the airport earlier than you think you need to. Most of the stress at the airport comes from the hovering specter of missing your flight. If you don’t have to rush, you don’t have to worry.

Unburden Yourself…of Bags. With presents in tow, you know most passengers are going to flout the airlines’ rules and the laws of physics with the volume of their carry-ons. Avoid the Hunger Games taking place in the overhead bins and just check your bags. Trust me, it’s worth it. (Indeed, one of my first blog posts was on this topic. Check it out here.)

Let It Go. Be nice to the airline employees. Smile at other passengers, even if they’re being testy and rude. If someone projectile-vomits their frustrations all over you (figuratively speaking, of course), smile, walk away, and go buy yourself a beverage with whipped cream on top. There’s no need to add fuel to the fire by fighting back. Remember that everyone is stressed out, and not everyone got to read Mockingbird’s tips for holiday travel before they left for the airport.

Seek Out Peace. If you have extra time on your hands, hang out in the quiet recesses of the airport. Yes, they exist: I recently found a wonderful mezzanine area with stuffed armchairs and virtually no people, just an escalator-ride up from a busy food court. The far end of a concourse where there aren’t any flights is another good bet. Get yourself one of those whipped-cream-topped beverages, turn on your noise-cancelling headphones, and put your feet up. (Just don’t forget to return to your gate when your boarding time approaches.) Or take a minute to pet one of the stress-reliever dogs that have started to roam some airports. Or take advantage of the many new airport amenities, like massage chairs and napping pods and actually-decent restaurants. Airports really aren’t all bad, after all.

Thus armed against the madness, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the season.

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