How to deal with Flight Anxiety
Updated: May 6
You wouldn’t think someone suffering from flight anxiety would love to travel. You’d expect them to avoid flying all together, but that was never an option for me.
I grew up flying every year. My parents are divorced, so every summer I would fly to North Carolina to see my dad. At first I was fine. I was the 7 year old that couldn’t wait to get on the plane.
But as I became more aware of the dangers and the tragedies that can affect passengers, my anxiety began to build. I was able to manage on any flight less than 2 hours but much more than that and I would be waiting for something to happen. That’s why I love window seats. My logic was at least I could see what was happening (as if seeing the wing burst into flames would be comforting).
I’ve been on countless long haul flights and have assembled my 5 most valuable tips to get you through the fear and anxiety you may experience:
Night flights are your new best friend
If you have a long trip coming up try to book an overnight flight. Getting on the plane around 8 o'clock is ideal because you can sleep through a majority of it and wake up in the morning at your destination.
Bring melatonin or other pills to help you sleep
I have a little difficulty sleeping on flights so I’ll usually take melatonin, z-quil, or dramamine with my meal and be asleep within the hour. Pick up a pillow, as well. They really do make a huge difference.
Never forget headphones, and try to pick airlines that have in flight entertainment. Websites like setguru.com provides information on the plane type including information on the best seats, wifi options, and in flight entertainment. If you're flight doesn't have, snag a book to fill some time.
Focus on your breathing
If you feel the anxiety start to kick in during turbulence, focus on the flight attendants and your breathing. You’ll most likely hold your breath so focusing on slow and controlled breathing helps calm down your body. Also, remind yourself that the flight attendants experience this every day. You may not be able to control the turbulence, but you can control your reaction to it.
Let the flight attendant know
If you’re on a flight by yourself, it may help if you let someone else know. They are there to help you and if things get rough, having someone aware of the situation may come in handy.
By no means are these professional tips, but they’ve helped me get through 13 hour flights and visit countries thousands of miles away. I have been able to manage my anxiety but for others who may experience it more intensely, I recommend getting professional advice.
Safe Travels xo Sam