Travel Tips: Plane Anxiety
I can only think of one plane flight when I really thought “Dear Lord, please, just let this end safely. And quickly.” And a good portion of that was my fault (too much whiskey the night before a flight which had a layover in the notoriously turbulent city of Albuquerque was not smart). Fear and anxiety toward flying has not really been something I’ve had to deal with. My first flight was before I was a year old and my mother had a career has a flight attendant, so maybe traveling was in my blood. But a conversation with a good friend the other day made me realize there are lots of people that don’t share my excitement at boarding a plane; for them, it’s not the gateway to a great adventure or a means to see dear friends, it’s a torture chamber floating 30,000 feet in the air. So to hopefully help her (and maybe you!) I researched some tips for easing flight and general travel anxiety.
Pinpoint the source of the fear: Is it the confined space? The height? The fear of crashing?
Educate yourself: Once you know the rarity of plane crashes or mechanical issues, you may feel more relaxed. Remember, news coverage can make it feel like these problems are constant, but it’s “newsworthy” because it’s an unusual event.
Be prepared: Learn about emergency procedures & protocols before you take your trip, so you feel ready in the (rare!) event something does happen.
Create a soothing pre-flight routine: While you listen to your favorite music, close your eyes & visualize a smooth travel experience from the drive to the airport to a safe departure from the plane. Associate something you like (the music) with flying to help calm you.
Wear comfortable clothing: If you feel your pants are too tight or your sweater is itchy, you won’t be able to relax.
They’re here to help, trust the flight crew: Flight attendants are there for your safety, that’s their main purpose; acting as in-flight wait-staff is secondary. When you board, let them know about your anxiety so they can check on you throughout the flight.
Get moving pre-flight: Physical activity releases endorphins which make you feel happy. Taking a brisk walk or getting some other form of exercise prior to your flight will flood your body with positive hormones and help relieve stress.
Take control: When you begin to feel anxious or tense, take charge of your body. If you feel your muscles tense, contract them. Tightening then releasing one muscle group at a time reminds you that you are in control of your body. Also pay attention to your breathing; a couple deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth forces you to focus inward, instead of what is going on around you.
Bring a distraction: Try headphones & music to keep out ambient noises that may trigger stress, or load favorites shows on your iPad.
Avoid the jitters: The day of your flight, try to stay away from caffeine or sugar, which may contribute to a feeling of anxiety. Stay hydrated with plenty of water the day before to keep your body from feeling stressed due to dehydration.
Front of the bus: When booking your travel, try to select a seat toward the front of the plane, where turbulence may not feel as strong.
Easy does it: If you have not traveled in a significant amount of time, don’t try to overcome your fears with a Trans-Atlantic flight. Try a few shorter flights first so you can train yourself to employ your relaxation technique in more manageable durations.
And when possible, travel with someone you trust who is sensitive to your stress.
We hope these tips help you travel safely and stress free!
Love & Travel,
The Escape Artists