Flying is a huge part of travel.
Even though the statistics are much higher for getting into a car accident than flying in an airplane, for some of us stepping on an airplane and soaring high above the clouds is still scary, and you’re not alone.
According to the Washington Post, about 40% of the general U.S. population reports a fear of flying.
Whether you’re trying to overcome your own aviophobia or heading on an adventure with someone who is an anxious traveler, here are 12 ways to combat traveling with the fear of flying.
First things first, don’t rush through the airport.
How does this help the fear? Rushing through the airport in fear of being late practically invites other anxieties into your space. The feeling of being flustered doesn’t simply go away when you sit in your seat, it takes some time to calm down.
Don’t rush, but don’t spend too much time at the airport.
While you’re sitting and waiting in the airport, the fear of flying can really manifest and grow. So don’t let that happen!
Distract yourself with a puzzle, a TV show, a book. Just don’t spend too much time waiting by the gate. If you are waiting for a while, spend your time in an airport lounge.
Fake it til you make it.
What?! What do you mean? What we mean here is sometimes, mind over matter really works.
You can tell yourself you’re okay, that you’re not afraid to fly and think about what other people who aren’t afraid to fly might be thinking. This might be difficult at first, but if you really put your mind to it – we know you can do it!
Remember the safety protocols.
Remind yourself of the safety protocols that all airlines have to follow and the employees that are hired specifically to keep you safe. These are the TSA workers, the airline staff, the stewardesses, the pilots, all of the above!
Each airplane is checked thoroughly before each flight. If anything is wrong, the flight is delayed and the problem is fixed or a new plane is brought in.
Familiarize yourself with the aircraft.
If you can familiarize yourself with the aircraft either while you’re booking your seat or with a quick Google search, this could help calm you or come in handy later.
If you find your fear is creeping in, pull out a picture of the map and remind yourself of the exits. Take a minute to read the safety brochure in front of your seat. Remind yourself of safety procedures too.
Have a drink.
If having a glass of wine or a drink helps calm you down, then we say have at it. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink in the airport or on the plane to help keep you calm. Drink responsibly and enjoy yourself.
Yoga or meditation might be a part of your everyday life, or it might not be. However, meditation is a powerful way for you to bring yourself back to the present moment and remind yourself that everything is okay.
Meditation calms the breath, centers the mind, and ultimately relaxes the nervous system in the body – these are all things that will help you with your flying phobia.
Grab a super comfy pillow to help you sleep.
Your flight will be much more comfortable if you can comfortably sleep. If you’re able to relax and fall asleep, then the flight goes by much faster. Thus, you will essentially sleep your way through any fear of flying you have. We like the sound of that.
Avoid media or movies that feature plane crashes, etc.
As a reminder: avoid any sort of story or movie that features a plane tragedy. This will only make your fear of flying worse so be careful!
Call a family member or friend before the flight, and talk about what you’ll do or where you’ll be.
A good way to dismiss your fear of flying is to get super excited about the reason you are flying!
Are you visiting friends? Studying abroad? Going on a year-long journey? Whatever it may be, consider calling someone who isn’t traveling with you and sharing your excitement. It will be comforting to hear a familiar voice before your flight, but also, it will get you even more excited, which might eliminate your fear completely.
Are you dreaming of the sunshine? Of European hikes and waterfalls? Of spending a week with your long-distance bestie? There are so many great things to think about!
Consider getting online and talking to someone.
The Internet is an incredible resource for all kinds of feelings: happiness, sadness, anger, and yes, fear. Consider downloading an app where you can talk to someone about your fear and get through it together. A few apps to check out include Flying Calmly, which tells you about airplane turbulence, and SOAR Conquers Fear of Flying, which provides a turbulence and weather meter, has safety info, back-up system info, and has a coach to walk you through the flight step-by-step.
Check out the 8 Steps to overcoming your fear from the ADAA.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America lists 8 steps to help you overcome your fear of flying. They might help you realize some important details that will help you overcome your fear. Read each step and get the details here.
1. Latch on to triggers that set you off.
2. Step onto the airplane with knowledge.
3. Anticipate your anxiety.
4. Separate fear from danger.
5. Recognize that common sense makes no sense.
6. Smooth over things that go bump in the flight.
7. Educate fellow fliers on how to help you.
8. Value each flight.
Now that you’ve seen our list of ways to help overcome your fear of flying, what do you think? Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment below!
Psst! Don’t add any additional stress to your travels with lost luggage, check out guide of what to do with stolen, damaged, or lost luggage.
My first commercial airflight was from near Westpoint Miss to Denver. Was the bumpiest flight I have ever had…I loved it. loved the weightless sensation in my stomach like good roller coaster.
Thanks, Tom! Love that feeling too!
A fear of flying isn’t something to be ashamed of; if anything, this article shows that there are many different fixes to the issue at hand. I definitely agree with catching some rest on the flight, especially if you’re traveling at night or have to catch a red-eye. It definitely helps.
That’s great to hear. Thanks, Robert!