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The 10 best apps for keeping calm during turbulent moments

Dec. 24, 2021
10 min read
View of a plane wing and engine above a cloudy blue sky mid-flight
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


Whether you’re dealing with turbulence in the air or on the ground, both literal and emotional bumps can be difficult to handle. Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a stressful travel situation, or you’re dealing with anxiety about being stuck at home.

No matter what’s got you feeling uneasy, consider trying one of these 10 calming apps on the plane, at your hotel room, home or anywhere else the next time you need to find a moment of Zen.

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ChillScape

(Screenshot courtesy of ChillScape)

The ChillScape app is a mix of cognitive psychology, AI-generated music and mesmerizing graphics to create an experience that’s calming, fun and immersive. Each session starts with low-pitched tones, similar to those experienced in the womb. As you pop bubbles, melodies play and the soundscape evolves. Layers of sound are gradually introduced – with frequencies known to stimulate calm and create feelings of euphoria. It's available on iOS for $1.99 and is coming to Android.

Insight Timer

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

With a library full of tens of thousands of free meditations, Insight Timer is great for people who want variety. Meditations vary from just a few minutes in length to more than half an hour and focus on everything from getting rid of anxiety to improving sleep.

It has more than 200 courses (10-day or 30-day) available from mindfulness experts, neuroscientists and psychologists, along with celebrities including Oscar-winning actress Goldie Hawn, supermodel Gisele Bündchen and British actor-comedian Russell Brand.

Course topics include overcoming smartphone addiction, boosting confidence, guided breathing sessions and more. The app also features sections dedicated to sleep, beginners, children, music and other groups or topics, plus meditation timers with interval gongs or bowls.

Download from the App Store or Google Play for online access to meditations for free or pay for the pro package, which includes options to download and access your meditation library offline, additional courses and more for $59.99 per year (a 30-day free trial is also offered).

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Calm

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

With a special section for kids, master classes, breathing exercises and even Calm Body (which offers classes on stretching and warm-ups), Calm is a dynamic app for people who want to maintain a state of, well, calm.

The soundscapes feature nature melodies, lullabies and even special sounds for listeners who need to focus. The sleep stories (ones for kids and another for adults), read by celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, are a fun and relaxing way to unwind before bed, while flying or at any other time. Frequent travelers will appreciate stories from around the world, including “A Rainy Day in Paris,” “Exploring Easter Island” and “A Cruise on the Nile.”

NBA superstar LeBron James narrates his "Train Your Mind" series, volumes one and two. The series were created to emphasize the importance of both mental and physical fitness, allowing him to discuss topics including managing emotions, sleep and maintaining balance.

Download the app for free on the App Store or Google Play. Premium access includes more than 100 meditations, exclusive music and the full library of sleep stories, with new stories added each week, for $69.99 per year (a seven-day free trial is offered).

Headspace

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

Start your Headspace journey by selecting your focus: managing anxiety, sleeping soundly, being more active or trying something new. Based on your selection, Headspace will create meditations and courses to fit your needs.

Travelers will enjoy the “move” section, which includes specific movements and stretches to do on travel days. The sleep radio is another unique feature; it has a full eight hours of sleep audio for serious insomniacs who may wake up frequently and need help getting back to sleep or those fighting jet lag.

Although you can try three basic sessions for free, to get the most out of the app, you’ll have to pay $69.99 per year or $12.99 a month (a 14-day free trial is offered) for the daily meditations, sleep sounds and bedtime exercises. Download on the App Store or Google Play.

Plus, if you’re a World of Hyatt member, you now have access to complimentary mindfulness and sleep exercises in the World of Hyatt app. Headspace Plus provides meditations, mindfulness exercises and even expert guidance from a former monk (and Headspace cofounder!), among other programs. You’ll just need to download the Headspace app and register online using the promo code HYATT first.

Related: De-stress with at-home spa treatments, coloring books and workout classes from your favorite travel brands

Shine

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

Shine has a heavy focus on self-care, helping users fight anxiety and be happier. With daily reminders and guided mental health check-ins, the app also has a large community of followers you can turn to for support and encouragement. You can also share your personal wins, such as how you dealt with insomnia or what gave you a confidence boost this week.

I found the “navigating a life change” feature particularly useful when dealing with quarantine this year. This feature allowed me to access a daily meditation and asked me questions about what I was grateful for that day. Shine also has a special coronavirus care toolkit featuring free meditations and an “ask an expert” section.

Download this app for free on the App Store or Google Play. The premium version, which costs $53.99 per year (a seven-day free trial is offered), unlocks a check-in calendar and gives you access to more than 800 meditations, sounds and sleep stories.

Bloom

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

For an app that offers you mindfulness activities that go beyond the hundreds of meditations and breathing exercises available, download Bloom. Its offerings include moon calendars, daily astrology updates, sleep assistance and a variety of ambient music options for rest, focus and more.

My personal favorite feature is the alternative mindfulness activities, such as mandalas which you can digitally color.

Although you can download Bloom for free on the App Store or Google Play, to get the most out of the app’s features you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $86.99 (a seven-day free trial is offered).

Aura

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

Start your journey with Aura by sharing how you feel today (sad, great, anxious or can’t sleep). Then, tell Aura how it can be of help, by selecting if you’d like to improve focus, find calm, heal, promote self-love, encourage personal growth or more.

From there, you can select meditations, stories, life coaching, music or sleep assistance based on your mood. You can set specific times to receive notifications that will prompt you to check in with the app or get tips to deal with your current mood.

Although you can download Aura on the App Store and Google Play, the personalized mood recommendations and most of the meditations, stories and music are only available for premium users. Premium membership costs $59.99 per year (a free trial is offered).

Oak

(Screenshot courtesy of Oak)

If you don’t want a lot of fuss, Oak keeps things simple (and free).

Instead of offering a million different options, the app gives users a small variety of guided meditations, chime and background customizable sessions, breathing mantras and relaxing sleep sounds. For busy moms, business travelers or anyone who just can’t be bothered to dig through hundreds of different plans, just click “play” and do a five-minute breathing session or a quick sleep meditation before bed, on a plane or during a break from work.

Download Oak and access the library of basic meditations for free on the App Store. A premium course is also available.

Buddhify

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

Buddhify makes it easy for users to select just the right meditation program for the situation, and pegs itself as the “mindfulness app for those who just don’t have time.”

Select your focus area from a wheel with options such as difficult emotions, waking up, sleep, work break, traveling and more, and you’ll then be offered appropriate guided meditations. You can customize your wheel categories too, prioritizing moods or situations that apply regularly to you. Content for kids is also available, and you can give meditations to those in your life who may need it — they can even listen without having the app, or you can listen to special meditations with them made for more than one person.

This app costs $4.99 to download from the App Store or $2.99 on Google Play, giving you access to more than 200 meditations.

Zen

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

With stories, calming music, meditations and transformational programs, you’ll be healthier and happier in no time using Zen. From programs on transforming grief to meditation for beginners, finding health and drum journeys, there’s something for everyone.

You can also read motivational quotes and select daily therapy options, which are meditations based on emotions like worry, happiness or anxiety. Music offerings range from mantras to crystal healing bowls to binaural frequencies — even relaxing sounds for babies and positive music for kids.

Although some of the basic meditations, stories and more are free once you’ve downloaded Zen on the App Store or Google Play, premium access to all of the content is available for $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year (a free trial is also offered).

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023