When You’re Stuck in the Airport - This American Girl

airplane view


I’m sitting here in the airport in Florida

my first time on US soil in six months

surrounded by English speaking humans and hot dogs

in culture shock

exhausted and overwhelmed.




I have already been traveling for over twenty-four hours

I have not slept

and my flight does not arrive in New York

until tomorrow.


Exactly when will I sleep?

Hm, I’ll get back to you on that one.


nicaragua volcanoes


Normally I spend my time in airports working.

It’s a distraction free space to write.

But when I’m this exhausted

work is entirely out of the question.


With the bright lights

screaming children

and overenthusiastic Jamaican Patois

I’m in the Caribbean satellite terminal

sleep is too.




So exactly what should one do

when stuck

for hours

and hours

in an airport?


caribbean ocean from airplane


Could you relax?

Could you enjoy where you are?


I know, I know.

It’s not easy.




But in the cold stale terminal

for hours upon hours

with no sleep at all

I have somehow managed

to settle in.


So here is my advice to you

when you find yourself trapped

in the stress inducing walls of an overcrowded airport.


Costa Rica view


Give yourself a massage


Ok bear with me. You’re going to have to get over your social anxiety here. It takes some security to not mind being the weird person in the airport rubbing herself or worse yet holding her hands in prayer then administering reiki. But let’s be real, when you’re wearing the same clothes for two days and your pores are leaking coconut oil could it get much more embarrassing? Your body now more than ever needs healing touch.


But if that’s too attention inducing…


liberia from airplane


Do restorative yoga


This might solicit glances and will instantly label you as the weird hippie in the airport. Especially when you’re in the United States. Just smile and say you were in Costa Rica and people will understand.


My favorite restorative pose, which can be done easily in an airport, is lying on my back with my legs extended up the wall. This pose increases blood flow to your heart and to your brain while stretching out your hamstrings. Ok, people might think you’re strange when they see you laying on the dirty airport carpet next to the vending machine, but you’ll feel so good it won’t matter.


If you must center yourself more discreetly…


airplane view


Watch a meditation video


I’m positively obsessed with yogaglo.com (they did not pay me to say this, I’m not nearly cool enough for that) which has thousands of yoga and meditation videos for only $17 per month. It’s perfect when I’m traveling but also when a very specific need that may not be addressed in a public yoga class.


For instance, after I discovered that my flight was delayed by three hours making me miss my connecting flight which added two days of travel time to my itinerary, I went through the YogaGlo meditation archives and found one intended for centering during difficult transitions.


With headphones in and eyes closed most people will assume you’re napping to music.


airplane view


Buy a book and read it


Do you find that you don’t read as often or as much as you’d like because you don’t have time? Well guess what, you ain’t got ish to do and Hudson News can’t wait to take your money. Read something.


airplane view


Watch movies


This is a great time to be decadent. You’re likely feeling weary and depleted and anything that makes you feel swaddled and nurtured is good. Try to detach from needing to feel productive. Staring at your laptop trying to complete an assignment while your bloodshot eyes struggle to stay open isn’t productive anyway. Give yourself rest and care so that you will be healthy enough to work when you do get out of this prison.


airplane view


Eat something indulgent and enjoy every bite of it


Particularly when you’re stuck in the far corner of Little Jamaica in the airport in the deep South, it’s hard to find healthy or remotely delicious meals. Yet there you are, hostage, paying $5 for a bottle of water. Do your best to get some protein and veggies, but there is no shame in putting away donuts and an ice cream bar.


airplane view


Don’t be surprised if after all that self treatment you never want to leave.

Just kidding.


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