Postcards & Passports

Tips for Fearful Flyers So You Can Travel

At first glance, a fear of flying seems completely rational. It doesn’t seem possible for an object as heavy as a plane, to take off from the ground. However, the more you learn about aviation and the physics of air travel, the more you learn that flying is safer than most other forms of transportation. This might not be a comforting thought, however, to people with a fear of flying. Somehow, the science of physics doesn’t seem to quell the anxiety. If you want to travel but are stifled by your phobia, continue reading for a few helpful tips for fearful flyers.

Understand the Nature of Your Fear

When you can understand more about why you find flying so frightening, you will be better equipped to unpack the fear and confront it. Does being on a plane make you feel out of control? Do the sensations of movement or vibration cause you anxiety? Are you afraid of heights? Do you feel claustrophobic? Do you imagine worst-case catastrophic scenarios? Are you dwelling on a plane accident movie you’ve seen or a news report you’ve heard? Is it the pre-flight instruction that makes you afraid? Do you fear getting airsick? Examine your fear so you can better define it and understand it; then it will be easier to move forward and tackle it — even if you need some help in doing so.

Visit a Therapist

When people find flying too scary to even attempt it, going to therapy is a good option for long-term solutions. Find a therapist who can help you address your fears specifically. They will talk you through your fears and help you address each one with objectives that will hopefully ease your anxiety. Then you can meet your goals for travel without fear.

Set Your Sights on a Travel Goal

It can sometimes be helpful to think of all the places you want to go in order to push yourself past the fear of flying. For example, maybe you have always dreamed of visiting Hawaii and seeing the beautiful nature. There are some amazing resorts in Oahu that you may never get to enjoy if you don’t overcome your fear. Since this once-in-a-lifetime destination is virtually impossible to get to without flying, it makes for an ideal goal to help you manage your flying anxieties. Perhaps it will be motivating enough to have a desirable end-goal in mind.

You could also try beginning with smaller steps. Plan a few short flights that do not go overseas. Succeeding on these initial goals will make it easier to take on a longer journey by air. These tips for fearful flyers help even those who just don’t feel physically comfortable flying. As you make shorter trips, you will learn how to be more comfortable, and you’ll probably pick up new tips just by observing how others deal with flying. Avoiding flying only makes your fears worse.

Take Anti-Anxiety Medication Before the Trip

Overcoming fear of flying might require talking to your physician. He/she might suggest possible medication that will ease your nerves ahead of your journey. Some of these treatments allow your body and your mind to relax and reduce the stress of flying. Maybe just planning to sleep on a plane will help. If you are worried about getting airsick, taking something like dramamine will have the added benefit of making you drowsy.

Plan to Utilize Distractions

We often use distractions with children when they are afraid. The same technique can work with adults. Download an engaging movie to watch, or bring that page-turning novel. Perhaps using noise-cancelling headphones with your favorite music will help bring your heart-rate down. Or start up an interesting conversation with someone else. Having a trusted friend or companion with you is also a great idea. Anything that takes your focus off your fears will help.

Another option is to use breathing techniques to help you stay in the moment. As you think more about your breathing and your own senses, you leave little room for thoughts of dread.

Learn More About Air Travel

Research the statistics and physics of air travel to reassure yourself of its safety. You will be surprised by how much a bit of knowledge can help alleviate fear. If your greatest fear is that you will not be safe, learning about airplane testing, safety records, maintenance and features will certainly alleviate your greatest concerns. For example, did you know an airplane does not need all of its engines working in order to fly? There are lots of back-up systems in place on an airplane. Throw in extensive pilot and flight attendant training, and you sould be able to feel more confident you are in good hands.

If you are afraid of getting sick from other passengers, it will be helpful to understand that airplanes have some of the best air-filtration systems. The air you breathe on an airplane is actually refreshed every few minutes!

Change your perspective

I know that when I was young, there was always a bit of anxiety when I flew, especially if there was any turbulence. My father, who worked as a navigator, would try over and over to explain the concepts of airflow and lift. He would draw pictures and demonstrate with a piece of paper next to a fan. I think that in the back of my mind, I did understand (at least a little) the science of things. It should have been enough to comfort me. What I ended up doing instead was changing my perspective, or mindset. Instead of convincing myself it was impossible for a plane to take off and not be forced into a freefall, I began looking at the entire process as a miracle.

Even now as an adult, I like to think it is rather miraculous that an airplane laden with passengers is able to take off. I’m also mature enough to recognize that there is an extremely low chance of a plane crashing, based on statistics. It really is safer to fly than to drive! But thinking of flying as a miracle means that something or someone divine is in charge, and I find that rather comforting! And being able to see the earth from above is a joy-inducing thrill.

Try Alternative Travel Methods

If you are finding it far too difficult to get over your fear of flying, there are other ways to travel without getting on a plane. They will be more expensive and take longer (like sailing to Oahu) but, if you are willing to save up and take your time, you can still see the world without flying. There are also times when it might actually make more sense to drive.

Using these Tips for Fearful Flyers

Yearning to see the world but feeling trapped by your flying anxiety is more common than you might think. Some of the most well-traveled people experienced a fear of flying in the beginning. You don’t need to resign yourself to limited travel just because you have a phobia. There are ways to either overcome the fear itself or navigate around it. 

I hope the above tips for fearful flyers will give you some “ammunition” to use against your own fears. Please share any additional tips you may have in the comments below. Perhaps we’ll see each other on a plane in the near future!

tips for fearful flyers

tips for fearful flyers

2 thoughts on “Tips for Fearful Flyers So You Can Travel

  1. Darren

    I’m a nerdy engineer so flight safety has never concerned me but I wish the best for my nervous friends because flying opens up a whole new world!

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