How To Fly Stress Free


We writers are stressed out, jumpy folks, don’t you think?  Some of us can be downright irritable.  We can be argumentative and contrarian.  A lot of us aren’t very good in crowds.  We get anxious a lot.  That’s the stereotype, I know, so I apologize if any of you are different.

I can just see a comment rolling in a few hours from now: “I’m not stressed-out, and I’m certainly not jumpy!  How dare you judge me!”  To which I would say: “Well you’re sure as hell being argumentative and contrarian, aren’t you?”

But ignoring me arguing with myself, I think flying is something that can cause anxiety for a lot of people.  As someone who absolutely loves to travel (and never stresses about anything, Scout’s honor), I thought I would share a few tips that help me enjoy my trips. 

And as an FYI for where this is all coming from, I travel a lot.  Like a lot a lot – I travel for work (from DC to NYC, Toronto, and Montreal), and for pleasure (upcoming trips include Colorado Springs, Indianapolis (Indy 500), Athens, Santorini, and Cabo).  If you want to read about just how much I love writing on planes, you can check out my recent post Words On A Plane – this is sort of a natural follow up coming out of that post.

So here in your traveling bible:

  • Get TSA pre-check if you can.  If you can get it and are just shuffling your feet, suck it up and do it already you procrastinating baby. 
  • Arrive on time, but not too early – strive to be at the airport 20-40 minutes before boarding – TSA pre-check rarely takes longer than 20 minutes (I’ve been averaging about 8).  If you get there too early, you’ll be bored and start to stress for no reason. You’ll sit there thinking way too much about whether you’ll be able to find overhead space for your carry-on, which is dumb. 
    • If you’re a real daredevil try to arrive at the gate no sooner than the first boarding call.  I like to live life on the edge, what can I say?  Some people jump off cliffs, I like to almost miss my flights.
    • P.S. My mom is going to get so much secondhand anxiety when reading this part.
  • Pack light.  Pack tight.  Make sure you have the essentials first.  Don’t forget that outside of the few essential things you have, almost anything can be replaced or picked up at a convenience story if you happen to forget it.  Get a good pair of headphones.  Wear casual, comfortable clothes. 
  • Pack a backpack for the plane, but don’t overpack – keep it simple and easy to get to anything at any time.  In your main compartment – laptop, book, notebook, headphones.  In a smaller compartment: laptop charger, phone charger, pen.
  • Sit down, put your headphones on, play your favorite jam.  Everything you could need is at your fingertips – want to write?  Grab your laptop.  Want to read?  Grab your book.  Want to doodle?  Grace your notebook.  This is why you didn’t overpack your backpack – everything should be easy to take in and out of your bag.
  • Enjoy your flight – try to split your time at least 60/40 between working and relaxing.
  • Make sure you thank the flight attendants when you land.

What about you?  Do any of you like flying?  What are your favorite tips or tricks for traveling stress free?

6 comments on “How To Fly Stress Free”

  1. Well, David, I enjoy reading you, BUT nope…your suggestions do not get me to “stress FREE”
    You see I am more than twice as old as you, so that makes me twice as irritable!
    I fly FIRST CLASS and I leave my cozy home and pink shed only when I am very excited about the final destination!

  2. For me, it’s flying with my son that is hardest. He gets airsick…every damned time. Breaking longer flights into shorter haunts helps a bit. Remembering not to give him milk is a big part of it. Expecting the worst and carrying spare shirt, sick bag and cola syrup are the best I’ve managed. Short of driving instead, it’s the best I’ve managed!

  3. I love to fly, but most of my flights are long hall international flights.
    I totally agree about the packing to have everything accessible.

    Always have a pen handy, because you never know when you might have to fill out paperwork on the plane.

    Be patient, and don’t be in a hurry. Enjoy it, relax and just breath. Everyone is going to get off the plane. They won’t leave you.

    Always be flexable and understanding. Especially when it comes to things that are out of your hands or the flight crews.

    1. Yes! I love the last part – always be understanding. So important. Not just for the people around you, but it will help you not get unnecessarily upset or stressed either.

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