I love airports, and flights, and I think they’re my favourite part of going on holiday. However, I understand not everyone feels that way. As someone who’s been doing airports since I was very young, and have done them solo, let me share with you some tips for keeping your cool while going through an airport.
Drink plenty of water: I like to buy a bottle at the airport to take on the plane, but you can have an empty bottle in your hand luggage when you go past security. Planes are very dehydrating, so take any liquids they offer you, too. Don’t worry about annoying the person in the aisle seat by going to the toilet often, you need fluids.
Figure out your favourite seat: Personally, I like the window seat! I love to see the sky and ground from on a plane, and get very disorientated and dizzy when I can’t look out a window. If you find the concept of looking out the window a bit scary, maybe get the aisle seat. And if you’d rather be in between two people, especially if you’re flying with people you know, get the middle seat.
Eat, little and often: I like to have a smallish meal in the airport, and nothing too salty and sweet. Since it's such an early start, I'm never really hungry before I leave the house, but I will be once I get to the airport. I’ll also buy one of those little meal deals for the plane, since airline food is hit-or-miss. I was once taking a morning flight, took off a little after nine, and I was served a hot pasta dish as my first meal. Since it was early, and I hadn’t had much sleep, the smell of it turned my stomach. It was a good thing I’d bought a little extra! I also get a bag of sweets to have while in the air. You can prepare this in advance and pack yourself a little snack, but I like having things to do at the airport.
Look up maps of the airport: If you google the name of every airport you’re going to, you can find a basic map of most of them. This can help you familiarise yourself with the layout beforehand. Find out where the departure gates are in relation to security, and know where you need to go if you have to change terminals. You’ll also get to see a list of shops and services, which can be handy if you need to pick up something you forgot.
Be mindful of changing terminals: In most airports, I understand this isn’t so bad, and most terminals are a short walk away. But in Heathrow, the separate terminals can be a bit of a drive away. They’re all individual buildings roughly the size of a standard airport each. Again, though, a lot of information on this should be provided on the airport’s website.
Locate the necessary things, first: Once you get to the departure lounge, the first thing you should find is a departure board. (They’re huge, and you can’t miss them) Next, find the gates. Some airports will have half their airports at one end and half at another end, so bare that in mind. Airports are so well-signposted it’s hard to get lost, but
Give yourself extra time: That three hours early thing they tell you is very good advice, I actually like to give myself four. For a very large airport, I often find that’s just enough time to get through check-in and security and relax in departures before your gate is called. Better to have everything
Dress comfortably: Now, this may differ from person to person. I like loose jeans that stay up without a belt, others prefer leggings. Don't bring anything that needs a belt, unless you want to be that person at security awkwardly holding their trousers up. Flat shoes, because there's a lot of walking involved at airports sometimes. Don't wear things that are a complete hassle to take on and off and security, either. And take into account the likely weather at both destination and origin!
Print off everything you might need: Itineraries, boarding passes, confirmation emails, I tend to go overboard. It just makes me feel a little better that if they ask, I have everything right here with me.
Don’t take too much hand luggage: Either see if you can get some of it into the hold, leave some at home, or fit some of it into your other bags. Two is that maximum I like, my carry-on case and my handbag to give me easy access to the important documents like flight details and passport. You don’t want to
Give yourself something to do: Take your mind of your impending anxiety about your flight. Bring a book and sit somewhere you can keep an eye on the board, or have a wander. This is why I leave myself a lot to get once at the airport – I can’t stand waiting around. If you’re the sort who likes to buy make-up, why not give yourself something to buy when you’re there? Decide what you could do with before the flight and have fun testing out a range of different brands. Understand that “Duty Free” doesn’t mean cheaper, but it passes the time and is better than potentially spending on stuff you don’t need.
Have a lot to do on the flight, too: I like colouring books for this, as they don’t require too much concentration so they don’t make me sick, are relaxing for any nerves you might have, and can pass the time quickly. Bring a book to read, too. Also, if you are long-haul, you might well have an in-flight entertainment system, which can have some of the must-see movies of the year and popular TV shows of recent times.
So, there you go. Do you have a particular thing you like to do at airports?