How To Enjoy Traveling When You’re Afraid to Fly

We all know that flying is the safest way to travel, but fears aren’t usually rational.

Being afraid of getting on a plane puts a serious damper on a trip. My fear used to be so bad that instead of being excited about a trip, I’d dread it, and my entire time there was ruined in anticipation of the flight back.

Based on my vast experience with the fear of flying :-), here are some tips I put together to help you enjoy your trip.

Before Boarding

The key is to relax your body as much as possible. Easier said than done, right?

Don’t drink caffeine

I love my morning coffee, but an early morning flight is the one time I don’t run for my steaming cup of goodness. Not only does it make me more jittery, but I want to make sure to be as sleepy as possible on a flight, which will naturally help take down the stress a notch.

Consider the Best Time To Fly When You Book

I like to fly first thing in the morning because I tend to be noncaffeinated and tired (read: relaxed) AND it’s the best way to avoid stressful delays. However, I also enjoy traveling at night because it’s easier to sleep on the plane. Find what works best for you and try to book accordingly.

When booking, consider whether or not you will be able to get to the airport with time to spare. This includes layovers. Being late to catch a flight does NOT help our bodies stay calm. 🙂

On The Flight

Pick Your Best Seat

Aisle or Window?

I always sit on the window. However, my mom, who isn’t crazy about flying either, avoids the window. She hates looking out at how high in the sky she is. Here’s my thing: I am FULLY aware that I am flying. Not looking out the window doesn’t mean I forget this fact. But what looking out the window does do for me is relax me.

Being up in the clouds is peaceful, and during turbulence, seeing how level the plane actually is by looking out at the horizon makes me feel better.

Front or Back?

If getting off and on the plane quickly is a goal, sit near the front.

If turbulence bothers you, pick a seat over the wing, as that is the most stable place on the plane. Avoid the back, where it’s bumpiest.

Both Feet on the Floor

I like to sit with my feet up and crisscrossed (is that weird?). It never fails that when we hit turbulence I immediately unwrap my legs and put both feet on the ground. There is something grounding about having both feet on the floor.

Meditate, practice deep breathing

Take a few deep breaths. Remind yourself to breathe (you’re holding your breath on flights, I know you are!). There are some great meditation apps out there that may help.

Make the Flight as Enjoyable as Possible.

Keep busy. Distract yourself. Get out that book or watch one of your favorite comedies.

Look to the flight attendants for reassurance, or other calm passengers. Telling the flight crew can be helpful, too. “I have a fear of flying. Do you know if turbulence is anticipated on this flight?”

I feel better when the pilot comes on, but it doesn’t always happen.

Some Extra Help

If you need a bit more help, talk to your doctor about getting an anti-anxiety med that you can take right before you fly. My doctor has prescribed Xanax for me for flights in the past and OMG it’s been a life-saver.

While my fear has gotten WAY better, it’s still an ongoing struggle (oh, that turbulence!). I’d love to hear from you- what strategies have you found helpful? Comment below!

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