Ibex How to: Top Ten Ways to Maintain Sanity When You’re Stranded in Airport Purgatory

The obvious response to being stuck in an airport terminal is to gorge on Cinnabons until you pass out on a row of molded, plastic chairs. Upon waking from your cream cheese icing hangover, you’ll stretch your aching limbs and amble off to buy a travel toothbrush and a $6 cup of coffee. Yes, Virginia, you can live on fast food, yesterday’s newspaper and flat beer.

Or, welcome to my life in Terminal B, at Denver International Airport (DEN airport code, but colloquially called DIA).

Flying through the snow-prone, tornado-prone, high wind-prone DIA – or other equally challenged airports – is a crapshoot of the first degree. The best defense in managing your sanity through an unplanned stop-over is preparation.

  • Pack a smile. Nah, we haven’t gone all soft on you. It’s a random airport (life) fact that kindness will get you further than grumpy complaining.
  • Pack a Ziploc baggie of toiletries in your carry-on, regardless of whether or not you have them packed in your check-in bag. Nothing is better than a toothbrush and a face wash after too many hours of stale air.
  • If you’ve forgotten a carry-on dopp kit, remember that apples are nature’s toothbrushes
  • Never take the people mover. For one thing, if you’re already on edge, the repetitive robotic voice announcing the end of the people mover is enough to make anyone snap.
  • Comfort is top priority. We’re not talking sweats and running shoes. We’re talking a pulled together, no-fuss outfit that will look equally good walking into the airport as it does after hours in a cramped seat and an evening sleeping on airport carpet. No wrinkle, odor-resistant, temperature-regulating Merino wool, perhaps?
  • Pack a scarf: the ultimate multi-tasker. It’s a pillow; it’s a warming layer; it’s a cover-up. It’s an ad-hoc slingshot if things get really rowdy.
  • Avoid over-eating. Just because you’re living in the sovereign limbo of an airport does not mean that nachos have magically become appropriate breakfast, lunch and dinner options. You will not feel better. We promise.
  • Over-drinking is out for debate. Sure, it’s an overall bad idea, but nothing says vacation like a Bloody Mary to kick off the day!
  • Have your shoes shined. Five bucks for a demure foot massage and buffed out kicks? Genius.
  • Resist the temptation to shop. Definitely indulge on free samples from the Body Shop and play with every available gadget at the Sharper Image (airport mainstays, no?). Keep the credit cards locked up for anything bigger than fits in your pocket. Remember you may be toting that stuff, along with your other carry-ons for an untold number of future hours. Stay lean.
  • Pack your power cord(s). It pretty much goes without saying in today’s electronic world, but nothing will drive you over the edge more quickly than losing contact with the outside world. Besides, you know in your real life how you feel guilty about not calling old friends or not exercising enough. An unplanned airport stop-over is the antidote to your guilty conscious. What could be more productive than catching up with friends and family while notching hot laps around the terminal?
  • Our last bit of advice is to choose your airport friends wisely: you have NO idea how long you may be stuck with them.

Safe, smooth travels!
The traveling Ibex team