Air travel after Covid-19: seven tips for anxious travellers

by Amy Jackson

As the world very slowly starts adapting to a new normal following the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us will be wondering what it means for any future travel plans. While some are concerned over what destinations are the safest to visit or perhaps whether you’ll get your money back for a previously cancelled vacation, there are a lot of questions to be faced with. However, for some people, the thought of travelling may be something that now promotes a lot more anxiety than it once did, in particular when it comes to air travel. So for those of us that are a little anxious about travelling over the next few months, what can we do to ease those worries? Whether you were an anxious traveller to begin with or recent events have turned you into one, read on for seven top tips on how to ease your nerves on your first post-pandemic flight.

1: Look for Ways to Make Things Simpler

If you’re easily stressed, navigating busy airports and bustling security queues won’t come easy at the best of times. So, if you’re feeling particularly anxious about this in addition to the current situation, it can be a good idea to look at ways to simplify the whole process. If you normally would take public transport to the airport, look at taking your own car to give you a little more control. Don’t let the cost put you off either, as there’s plenty of websites out there designed to help you find cheap airport parking with minimal effort. If having a few more home comforts close to you on the plane will help you feel better, speak to your airline about increasing your carry-on allowance, or if you’re worried about feeling claustrophobic, select a seat that offers extra legroom. Yes, these things may come at an extra cost, but if it makes you feel even just a little bit better, it might just be worth doing.

2: Allow Extra Time

There’s nothing like being in a rush to set the stress levels soaring, so allow yourself some extra time for the usual check-in and security procedures. Some airlines may even advise you to arrive at the airport earlier than usual anyway, so make sure you check this when working out your timings.

3: Familiarise Yourself with Safety Measures

Knowing the guidelines around things like when you’ll be required to wear a face covering or any new procedures in place to protect others’ health could indeed make your travel less stressful, as you’ll know exactly what’s expected of you without having to worry about whether you’re doing something wrong. So, make sure that you familiarise yourself with the safety measures not just at your destination, but also at the airport too.

4: Bring Plenty of Supplies

This one’s pretty much a given, but ensuring you’re well equipped in terms of hand sanitizer, masks, anti-bacterial wipes and so fourth will mean you don’t have to worry about potentially running out during your trip. It’s also worth bearing in mind that these products may be in high demand in the stores at the airport, so don’t rely entirely on picking them up before your flight just in case they’re not available. If you plan on taking disposable face coverings, make sure you have more than enough for the duration of your trip so as to avoid needing to track down more. If you’re taking reusable face coverings, remember these should be washed after each use, so ensure you’ll be able to do this wherever you’re going, or that you have enough to see you through.

5: Distractions

For some, all of the practical measures and planning in the world won’t be enough to silence the anxiety, whether it’s while you’re waiting in the departure lounge or mid-flight. That's why in these cases, it’s a good idea to bring plenty of things to distract you or calm you down if things get too much. Of course, everyone differs in terms of what works for them, but common things to keep your mind occupied can be having a few movies or boxsets downloaded onto your devices, a good book to read, a journal, or even a few crossword puzzles. Depending on the airline, some flights may have opted to switch off their entertainment to avoid touch screens getting contaminated, so having plenty to keep you busy on your flight is still a good option even if you don’t get anxious!

6: Start Small

Sometimes it can be tempting to go all in and face your fears when it comes to anxiety, but be realistic and know your limits! If you weren’t particularly thrilled with the idea of a long-haul flight pre-pandemic, it may not be a good idea to take your vacation in a destination that requires one right now. For your first flight, choose from destinations that have shorter flight journeys — that way, if the nerves kick in you won’t be faced with the daunting prospect of “only 7 more hours to go…”

7: Don’t Force It

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to acknowledge how you feel about the whole travel situation. Just because people are starting to travel again, that doesn’t mean you have to. If you don’t feel like you’re ready to fly just yet, that’s okay — be kind to yourself and don’t feel pressured by your family to immediately book a vacation if you’re not feeling it.

Most of us will be feeling a little anxious about the idea of travelling again following Covid-19, so remember that you’re certainly not alone. While it may take a little longer to get used to the new-normal when it comes to travel, being prepared and familiarising yourself with the safety measures is one of the best ways to ensure your trip is as stress free as possible!

Photo: Camila Perez