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15 Airport Tricks To Make Every Traveler’s Life Easier

15 Airport Tricks To Make Every Traveler’s Life Easier

When you have to fly, you probably grit your teeth and prepare for a forgettable airport experience. You get ready for long lines, surly fellow passengers, uncomfortable seating, mediocre food, and embarrassing security procedures where you almost have to strip. Is there any way you can get around these problems? Happily, there is! Implement these 15 hacks to make your next airport stay a much more pleasant experience.

1. Book a red-eye flight

Not as crazy as it sounds. Booking a flight with a late evening departure time and early arrival time (red-eye flight) does have its advantages. First of all, you will be able to travel at a quieter time as the airport will be less chaotic. It makes the airport almost human. The best result however is that you can sleep during the flight and wake up at your destination. This does depend on whether you are travelling east or west but in many cases, it really is worth it. You can save also on the price of the air ticket.

2. Get Nexus/Global entry

Once you apply for Global entry, you can avoid the long lines at immigration. This is one of the most painful airport experiences. No frustrating waiting or filling out boring questionnaires. With Global entry, you go to the special kiosks, key in some details and they recognize you from your fingerprints. You are in! It only costs $100 for five years and if you hold an American Express Platinum card, they will pay the fee for you. This system is operational in 26 US airports. American, Canadian, Swiss, and Dutch citizens can apply. To do so, fill out an online questionnaire and be prepared for a background check which includes a 30-minute interview. If you are a frequent flier to Canada, apply first for the Nexus entry because that will automatically get you on to the Global one without re-applying (it will also save you $50).

3. Get access to the first class lounge

This can really make your stay at the airport more human. All you have to do is to ask someone going in if they would not mind signing you in too. There are quite a few first class lounges which allow this. If you’d rather not ask a stranger for a quick favor, you can pay to get access yourself. This can cost between $30 – $50. You may prefer to get annual membership and pay for each visit. Some plans allow you to have access to 700 lounges worldwide. If you have a long wait while in transit, this is really worth it. These lounges are usually very comfortable and you will have access to better food, showers and also quiet areas if you need to sleep.

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4. Cut down on walking

Airports tend to be large places and sometimes you have to walk miles. If you are elderly or have some disability, you can apply for wheelchair assistance for you or a family member. It makes life so much easier at the airport and also speeds things up considerably. You can apply for it when you purchase your ticket. Nobody is going to ask you for a medical certificate. Remember this is a great time saver if you have a tight connection. There are short cuts for wheelchairs!

5. Dine at the airport

If time permits or if you check in extra early, consider dining at the airport restaurants instead of having to put up with a doubtful plane meal. Airport restaurants are improving. It is also more cost effective and can help with jet lag. Just think, you can have a comfortable seat and plenty of elbow room for cutting your steak!

Another option is to bring your own food on board which is usually healthier.

Some people recommend bring frozen food on board so that they can have it during the flight. Apparently frozen food gets through security without problems, according to frequent fliers. Not for me!

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6. Find a quiet place

If you are not in a first class lounge, it might be difficult to find a quiet spot. However, look for a religious symbol and follow that. Airport chapels of various denominations are usually provided. They are almost always very quiet. You can sleep or meditate there. Airports in the Middle East tend to have public shower facilities near the chapels or prayer rooms. Frankfurt airport has several chapels catering to Jewish, Christian and Muslim travelers.

7. Bond with your kids

Get the kids off their gadgets. If you have kids and are worried about how to keep them entertained for the long wait, encourage them and your significant other to switch off all devices. Playing cards, reading books out loud, or playing simple games like I Spy, can help to bond with your kids. If everybody is on their smartphone, this is not possible.

8. Use your frequent flier air miles wisely

When you work it all out, business class flights are the best and most economical way to use those air miles, especially where long haul flights are involved. Redemption rates on a business class return flight Sydney/London/Sydney works out at 4.52 cents per point. The same flight in economy class works out at 1.33 cents for each point. It is well worth checking out sites like iFLYflat to make sure you are getting the best value. Also, going business class will make your airport stay much more pleasant.

9. Plan ahead

Planning ahead can make the airport experience a much more positive and hassle-free one. Check out the airline’s policy on carry on luggage and actually measure the case before you leave home. Better safe than sorry. Checking in online and choosing your seat either from your PC at home or your smartphone is going to make things a lot easier when you actually get there. You can spend that extra time relaxing, by going shopping and eating.

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10. Preparing for the security check

You know what is going to happen here. You can prepare for it with your choice of attire however. You can wear trousers which do not need a belt. Choose slip-on shoes and also remember that your socks should be in good condition so that you do not pick up a nasty foot fungus while waiting for your shoes to come through. Check out this guide for more details on making it all stress free.

11. Prevent luggage theft

One way to do this is to pack a gun and declare it. Another alternative is to pack a toy pistol (still needs a declaration) but no license, of course! It actually does not get special treatment because it just needs to be securely locked. So it really does work in stopping the airport luggage thieves at least. But think twice about this if you are travelling from or to a state which has strict gun laws. Examples are New York, Hawaii, California and Illinois. You could end up in prison!

12. Sleep at the airport.

You must be joking! Well, I am not actually, because there are passengers who prefer to do this, rather than stay at a hotel and get up at the crack of dawn. They are saving on the hotel bill. Also emergencies and bad weather may force you to have a long overnight layover. They say that London’s Stanstead airport looks like a refugee camp every night. People complain bitterly that there is not enough seating when they arrive at 10.p.m. If you decide this is for you, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Bring a travel mattress
  • You will be asked why you are there. Have your ticket ready.
  • Pack your eye shades and ear plugs
  • Ensure you have snacks and bottled water with you
  • Post its to stick on yourself to ask people to wake you at the right time
  • Dress in layers as some foreign airports can get too cold or hot

13. Watch movies at the airport

It’s a long wait so why not watch a movie. You will need your laptop and a USB flash drive. At the touchscreen kiosks, you can download your favorite film on the drive and load it on to your laptop. These are not available at all airports in the US yet. Digiboo and iTunes are the most popular ones at the moment.

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14. Enjoy some terminal shopping

Take advantage of samples of lotions and hand creams to hydrate your skin. You are going to need it if you have arrived from a long flight. Zero cost and gives you a chance to explore the whole shopping scene.

15. Relax and enjoy the airport

Head for one of the airport bars and grab a drink. This is great for people watching if you are travelling alone, and can be great fun. Just relax with a drink and help to pass the time. If you are feeling sleepy, you can always crash out for a few hours at a YOTEL pod or next-generation cabin. Not every airport has these but Heathrow at Terminal 4 has one. You can stay overnight for £56. There are also lots of other things to help pass the time such as visiting a spa, getting a massage or even visiting an art gallery. Now, who said airports were boring?

Featured photo credit: Prague Airport/Nicola via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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