How to stay sane during travel delays

Reading time: 3 minutes


There’s nothing quite like the excitement of packing for a trip and heading to the airport for a much-anticipated holiday. You’ve checked in and headed dutifully for the departure gate with plenty of time to spare … only to find your flight has been delayed. As deflating as delays are, there are ways to get through them without letting it ruin your mood. Follow our lead and sail through your next delay, no matter how many hours at the airport you have to endure.

Get stuff done

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that delays happen, and acceptance is the best antidote to anger. Make a plan to use your time well – get ahead on your emails, do some life admin, cross some items off your mental to-do list (especially the ones that have been there a while) and call those family members you don’t call nearly often enough.

Treat yourself

Delays are the perfect excuse to do a little shopping, or to have a leisurely glass of wine and a meal (don’t question the time of day – it doesn’t count in airports). Buy yourself a new book or magazine, and relish the chance to slow down and take your time while you’re choosing. And just think, getting out of rushing-around mode now will make it that much quicker to slip into holiday mode when you do (eventually) get there.

Entertain the kids

It’s easy staying sane when you’re travelling solo, you may well be saying, but what if you’re heading overseas as a family? Preparation is everything when kids are involved. You’ve no doubt got the basics covered – loaded the tablet with movies and games – but colouring in, craft activities and games will come in handy for the younger members of your crew. Exploring the airport is key when it comes to killing time with kids. Some airports are better than others when it comes to kid-friendly activities. At Changi Airport in Singapore, for example, kids of all ages love the Butterfly Garden, there’s a free 24-hour cinema, and kids over seven can ride the world’s tallest indoor slide (it’s four storeys high). Plus, there’s an entertainment deck for gamers and an incredible indoor garden complete with mazes, canopy walks and a waterfall. If you have to be stranded at an airport, the place to do it is at Changi! If the airport you’re spending time in is not nearly as fun, it’s time to get creative. Do an airport scavenger hunt, ride the train between terminals, or play some games as a family.

Feel better

If your flight is delayed on a stopover, and you’re already feeling grimy and tired, dedicate some of the extra time you suddenly have to freshening up. Brush your teeth, wash your face, and find out if there’s somewhere you can take a shower. Many airports even have spas offering massages and facials. Failing that, track down a massage chair or find a comfortable chair or lounge where you can put your feet up and meditate. Not really into meditation? Try it anyway. Download an app or do a quick search on your music streaming service – you’ll likely find just the meditation you need to turn your day around.

Take turns

If you’re travelling with others, take it in turns to stay with the luggage. The other person then gets to wander the airport and browse the shops unencumbered. Take the same approach if kids are involved. Give the other adult a breather by taking the kids for an hour (or even 30 minutes, if they’re the energetic kind). This is the time to get proactive about looking after your wellbeing. If you know taking some time to yourself will make you a more patient, positive parent, do what you can to make that me-time happen.

Plan ahead

Anticipating airport delays as almost inevitable can take the edge off that feeling of disappointment when they happen. Packing healthy snacks, essential toiletries and a change of clothes will get you through the lengthiest of delays, and don’t forget your travel pillow and oversized scarf. If your plane is delayed for more than a few hours – or, worse still, cancelled – having the option to bed down on the airport floor with a pillow and makeshift blanket can b a godsend. To really get some quality zees while you wait, pack an eye mask and earplugs or noise-cancelling earbuds – just in case.

Travel Insurance

Delays can be one of the most frustrating parts about travel. It’s worthwhile understanding what you’re covered for in the event of an airline delay to avoid any surprises. Learn more about what you’re covered for and when. cover kicks in.

Cover is subject to the full terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions outlined in the Product Disclosure Statement.



I grew up in the US, Germany and Australia, so it feels more foreign for me to stay in one place than to move around. Since then, I’ve called Boston, London, Seattle, Brisbane, Madison and Sydney home for study and work as a journalist, travel writer and photographer. I specialize in adventure travel, social issues and interiors/architecture. Home is now an 1890s cottage in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. I traveled to my seventh continent last year – an action-packed expedition to Antarctica – and have memories galore of my travels. Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies, galloping with gauchos in Chilean Patagonia, trekking through Japan, and camel riding in Jordan are among the most memorable. My least favourite travel hiccup was being stranded in Cameroon when I should have been winging my way to Paris for a little me-time. You win some, you lose some.


Top tips for staying safe on European beaches

To ensure that you have a safe, enjoyable time, we've put together our top tips for looking after yourself on ...



What’s the difference between driving in New Zealand and Australia?

If you're planning on going across the ditch on holiday, we've put together some New Zealand driving advice for ...



8 wacky hotels from around the world

Travel insurance provider, TID brings you the weirdest and wackiest hotel accommodation from around the ...