Seats at an Empty Airport

Mastering the Art of Patience When Traveling

Picture this: you woke up late and barely made it to the airport through heavy traffic. You’re sure you’ve forgotten something when you’re scrambling through the security checkpoint. Minutes away from take off and you’re running across the airport in your socks (because putting your shoes back on just wasn’t an option) and arrive at the gate just to find out the plane has left. You manage to book another flight but find out it leaves in 9 hours, there’s no free internet at the airport and you just realized you’re dirty, sweaty and in an incredibly bad mood. Sound familiar?

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It’s hard not to get upset, or even lash out at someone, when traveling. Not all of us have the virtue of patience but think of it this way: if you get mad, you lose. At the end of the day, when it comes to travel, if you’re not patient, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

In the end, is it really worth getting mad if it won’t get you to your destination faster?

Yes, patience is boring but forgetting it can lead to frustration and you usually end up making snap decisions, probably not the right ones. Anger can make you opt for the wrong flight, overspend during a long layover, or even talk back to a security officer (which you definitely don’t want to do!).

Airport 70
© Mauro Manuini

So how then can you master the art of patience when traveling? Here are a few things to keep in mind …

It’s a Matter of Control

Remember this: when you’re traveling, you’re not in control. You can’t change the fact that it will take you three hours to go through Immigration, or that the airport messed up the gates keeping you on the runway for over two hours. If you can’t control it, why stress about it? And in the end, is it really worth getting mad if it won’t get you to your destination faster?

Avoid it Before You Leave

Mental preparation is key, like in everything. If you know you’re about to drive rush hour traffic, what do you do? Blast some good music, put on a happy face and just cruise until you get there. The same goes for travel. Avoid stressful situations starting with the planning stage.

When booking your ticket, allow enough time to change flights, walk through Immigration, re-check bags, have a bite to eat, etc. Some airports are much busier than others, a 2-hour layover does nothing for you now-a-days.

Seats at an Empty Airport
A Modern Ghost Town © Nic McPhee

Be smart about packing your luggage, including your carry-on. Weigh your bags and make sure they’re good to go when you arrive at the desk. Try to pack a couple days before you leave as this will give you the opportunity to either re-think items or remember those you forgot. Check the list of items not allowed in your carry-on and stick to it. Take all your essentials and make a list if necessary so you don’t forget anything.

Dress comfortably, do away with wearing a belt, jewelry or items that will hold you up at the security checkpoint. Also, dress simple and avoid heavy items that will slow you down or stress you out.

If you’re traveling far or someplace new and exotic, take a peek at details on the airports you’ll be visiting, including maps, terminals, trains, etc. If you get lost in an airport or are just unsure what to do or where to go, don’t be too shy to ask!

Put on your happy face, get a good night’s sleep before you leave and be excited about your final destination. You’re (hopefully) going somewhere cool! If you manage to focus on the good things to come, it will be easier to sweat off any stress along the way.

Reading at the airport
© borisindublin

Mastering the Art of Patience

Patience takes practice, some are born with it and well, others — we have to learn! A great question to ask yourself in any stressful situation is ”¦ “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”

Slow down! Breathe, relax and count your blessings. Focus on your destination, visualize the things you will see, the places you will enjoy and the people you will meet. Live the moment, time goes by so fast that before you know it you’ll arrive at your destination and all that stress and frustration will be behind you.

Are you grinding your teeth or clenching your fists? Let go. Do something that requires patience and that will shift your mind off the stress. Play a game on your phone, read, draw, write or go take a walk.

Some airports will have small interior gardens or even outdoors spaces. If you have the time, go looking for those, take your shoes off and relax a bit.

Do you carry a travel journal? Vent! Do you blog? Rant! Take a timeout, do some yoga, take a bathroom break or strike up a positive conversation with someone interesting.

The Bottom Line

Patience has so many benefits: it lowers your stress levels, it makes you happy, it makes you feel healthier and it teaches you to value the effort. The final outcome will be a stress-free trip to an amazing destination so just chill out and enjoy the ride.

  1. I couldn’t agree more! More than once I’ve had people ask me how I’m so calm when travel plans are all going awry, or we’re stuck in an airport terminal due to a delayed flight. You can’t do anything about it, so why stress?

    My little tip to help with such instances (which often come with a big dose of boredom as well) is to have a pack of cards in your carry-on. You don’t want to be depending on your tablet or smartphone for entertainment as it could well drain the entire battery, so a pack of cards can be a handy – and sociable – way to spend your waiting time.

  2. I loved this quote, ” In the end, is it really worth getting mad if it won’t get you to your destination faster?” The truth is, keeping your cool, a smile on your face and a positive adventure spirit will not only make the time go by easier, but you’ll be a much better travel companion as well.

  3. Travelling has made me so much more patient, especially in Asia.. You come to expect trains and busses to be late, ferries to be slow. It is all a part of the experience!

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