07 Aug How To Keep Your Zen During Any Flight (Author’s Edition)
Keep Calm and Fly On: the crying baby, the pushy man next to you, the rude flight attendant, flight delays, no overhead compartment space, a last minute change in your gate — these are all a part of traveling.
Actually, it’s everything that did happened to me on a recent flight back from New York City back to my home base in Miami.
I have a joke, I practice yoga for the health and longevity of my body, and for the sanity of my mind, and for the sake of the world. Traveling is no exception to this rule of sanity and sanctitude. However, when you’re 40,000 miles high in the sky, one can’t exactly roll out a yoga mat (although, I will argue you can do many stretches on an airplane, or at least these five poses).
How does one keep their zen during any travel adventure or mishap that can depart your way? Sit back, buckle up, and enjoy your flight, traveling warriors: I’ve got you covered in this upcoming share tips to stay cool, calm, and turbulent-free on your next flight.
1. FLIGHT DELAYS
The busiest of airports are known for flight delays, due to their high-capacity and volume of planes and flights that depart every 2-3 minutes of the day. In a CBS News report, Chicago O’Hare, Boston Logan, and Newark New Jersey Airports were the worst airport in the U.S. for flight delays. The busier the connecting city, the more delays are possible.
Plan ahead by packing some extra snacks, added entertainment, and extra battery for your devices. I typically bring a book or load some digital material on my iPad just in case, and always have finger food healthy snacks in my carry-on. Grapes, blueberries, apples, clementines or bananas with some raw unsalted nuts are a perfectly easy, and healthy snack that pack really well and are easy to eat with your hands.
P.S. I think I’m due for a new “health snack” video update!? Coming soon!
2. LAST MINUTE GATE CHANGES
Always, always, check your gate even after checking in your luggage and you have your boarding passes in your hands. Another tip, get digitally savvy. Miami International Airport is a hub for American Airlines, whom I fly with almost always, and have their app downloaded to my phone for any last minute changes, delays or updates. I’ve prevented quite a few missed flights by having this app handy to pop up with notifications displayed!
Check out GateGuru (it’s free!) app to keep track of your flight and gate to avoid this hassle.
3. THE CRYING BABY
No matter what flight you’re on, this will happen. Especially if you’re waiting to board and you hear the crying kid on the other side of the waiting area and you’re praying, “Please! Don’t let that baby be next to me!” It will almost be sure to happen with that mindset (Murphy’s law).
Make friends with the parent or care-taker. Play jokes with the baby. Offer any edible snacks (see above, pack snacks!) to keep the baby happy if he/she is hungry and the parent did an oops! and forgot. I implanted all of these strategies with a Mom who was a seat in front of me traveling with her baby who cried for almost the entire flight back from New York. She thanked me after for being so understanding and caring. It pays to go the extra mile, share your kindness, and have some compassion. After all, you’ve had to hear the baby for 3.5 hours—the parent hears is 24/7.
Another tip? Bring noise cancelling headphones. Effective, not just for crying babies, but also snoring neighbors.
4. NO OVERHEAD SPACE
If you happen to have a seat further back in the plane, you are typically grouped in one of the last sections to board, and that means little to no overhead space available for you. If you know you have a bag that you absolutely cannot check, try and book a seat closer to the middle or front of the plane. In addition, get there on time, ahead of your boarding time, to be one of the first of your grouping to board almost guaranteeing you an overhead bin for your luggage.
Last note on this, don’t be a hog and place both of your bags overhead. If you have a handbag or backpack and its a packed flight, put the smaller personal item under the seat in front of you. Karma points will prevail the next time you’re jammed for overhead space.
If you’re looking to save space, check out these little cubes that have become my new space-saving best friend.
5. THE PUSHY NEIGHBOR
Something seems to occur when we get in to tight spaces and we’re positioned next to people we don’t know. We get territorial, and suddenly even the calmest of the bunch (or the tiniest) are in a battle for the arm rest, knee space, and elbow room.
If you’re next to someone all up in your aisle seat, you can kindly ask the person to please move his/her shirt, pant, or jacket over (a not-so-direct hint). Or, simply ask, “Do you mind moving your elbow, please?” Simple, and direct. No explanation needed. There’s always a nice way, and rude way, to ask for something. Take the higher road and ask from a heartfelt, yet authoritative, manner prior to pushing and shoving.
6. THE RUDE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
I’ve made some great friends and actually taught quite a few attendants some yoga moves by having some open, understanding, and empathetic conversations on countless flights. Sure, the rudeness isn’t always the cause of the passenger; however, imagine if you had 200 people ticked off from a delay, crying baby, rude neighbor, or any of the above?
There’s a saying, you’ll attract more bees by using honey. Make a joke with the flight attendant, saying, “Wow, what a crazy flight today! Must be something in the air?” breaking the ice with him/her. You’ll immediately get a relaxed reply, and in turn, this can get you extras water, coffee, snacks, or any request from the attendant with a kinder heart than if you were one of the passengers adding to the hostility.
Of course, this has to be genuine. If the flight attendant is down-right rude for no apparent reason, then just let him/her have their day. They’re human too, remember.
Bring it all back to the yoga on this one! Meditation, and breathing exercises, can help calm nerves, focus your mind, and relieve stress in any situation, especially when flying. I typically practice meditations during take-off, envisioning the best outcome or adventures in my upcoming trip.
During any turbulence, try this breathing technique to calm your nerves:
- Breath in to the count of 4.
- Exhale to the count of 6.
- Hear your own breathing, repeating this exercise for as many rounds needed, or until the turbulence passes. This too shall pass and is temporary, dear yogis.
Keep these tips and tactics in your carry-on back pocket for the next time you fly. While we can’t control what happens in the travel world around us, we can work on our own selves and mindsets to make any travel a true adventure.
NOTE: This article is the author’s original version prior to its published version you can find here.