The old British World War II motivational poster, Keep Calm and Carry On, is now ubiquitous and has so many jokey variations (Keep Calm and Carry On Shopping, for instance) that I inwardly groan whenever I see a version of it. I bet you do too.
But it's a perfect motto for holiday travellers, who are both excited and nervous about hopping on planes at this patience-testing time of year.
As much as I try not to have it happen, there are just some times when my travel arrangements mean I have to fly at peak times of the year, on airlines I don't love, with connections that are dodgy and in seats that are too uncomfortable. But, whether I'm in the front or back of the plane, my personal rules for a calm travelling experience are the same.
Here are my top 10 tips. I may not practise them perfectly every time, but I try.
PLAN AHEAD Try to induce your psychic powers about what might go wrong. That means avoiding tight connections and thinking about when you're actually landing, and at what time, and what might happen at the other end. Have a backup plan in case things go awry, including bringing a light change of clothes onto the flight and packing snacks. Leave for the airport earlier than you might, choose your seats ahead and do an online check-in if you can. (Surprising how short these lines are and how long the lines are for people who don't.) Having thought through all the possibilities, you'll have a calmer experience from the outset.
AT THE AIRPORT take a brisk walk around the terminal before you get on the flight, rather than just sitting and waiting for boarding. It will tire you out in a good way and make relaxation and sleeping on board easier.
MEDITATE IN YOUR SEAT There are some helpful guided meditation apps and many airlines have programs on their audio system. In my case, I have a ritual – compression socks on, slippers, hair tied back, everything organised, followed by application of moisture cream, eye drops and lip balm. A few drops of soothing lavender oil on my pillow or blanket is said to decrease blood pressure and encourage deep sleep patterns.
By Lee Tulloch. This article is a fragment originally published on traveller.com.au and can be read in full here.