I am a woman traveler, and if you are afraid of flying, like me, you have probably searched for articles, videos, talked to many people trying to overcome it and get on with your life traveling normally. But also, you have probably bumped into the same repetitive information, over and over, information that don’t respect your brain and won’t help you move on.
“It’s the safest transport in the world! It’s safer then taking a lift! Aircrafts are prepared for turbulence, it’s super safe! Millions of people are flying at the same time, how many accidents we hear about it? Just breathe! Just relax, try to enjoy it! Think positive!” We know that already, surprise me with new information, please.
And that is why I’m here. I’m here because I’m still looking for answers, looking for minimal soothing feelings to help me fly when I need to. I’m here because I understand our fear is irrational and we can’t just relax, because the palm of my hands won’t stop sweating if I tell them turbulence doesn’t crash planes. But I have some tricks that work for me most of the time and I’m willing to share, so here it is…
- Know Your TriggersI chose this one to be the first because it’s important for you to know what sets you off. In my case specifically is turbulence, I mean, I’m nervous during the whole process but if there’s no turbulence I can even sleep. So, is it take offs, landings, noises, turbulence, the whole pack, why not? Just try to bring your fear to the conscious part of your brain so you can start working with it.
- Listen to Loud MusicYou can choose the music you like to hear, obviously, but not necessarily relaxing songs. I don’t usually enjoy relaxing songs, it’s not something that makes me comfortable. On planes, I like to hear music that pumps me up, music that I know the lyrics, that I can airband to it, that make me happy. But the main reason for it is that external sounds won’t make me paranoid. Planes are very noisy and when the wings retract, or when this or that happens, I don’t hear it. Believe me, this tip is top of the crop.
- When in Turbulence…Okay, the main reason I absolutely hate planes is my turbulence fear. And it’s a done deal that every flight has at least a little bit of turbulence because planes need to deal with air disturbances, otherwise they wouldn’t fly at all. I have some cheats, the main one might seem a little weird, but… The least contact you are with your seat, the least you’ll feel the turbulence. If the pilot hasn’t turn the seat belt signs on, go to the bathroom. Walking, peeing, washing your hands, making funny faces in the mirror relaxes me a lot. But if the seat belt sign is on, go back to your seat and buckle up. The only problem turbulence usually bring is for people that wasn’t buckled and that 2/3 people are flight attendants, haha.
- Choosing your seatPersonally I prefer from the middle of the plane to the end and aisle seats. But why? Well, over the wings is where the plane is less shaky, has more stability. And now you’re gonna think I’m crazy, but, when after take off the plane is still going up, the nose of the plane needs to go down when reaches the altitude stipulated for the flight, leveling off for cruise. And the butt goes up. So I prefer the going up feeling of the adjusting. And the aisle seat is because I like feeling free to go to the bathroom when needed, for instance. Although I really enjoy checking the geography from above, mixed feelings, I usually go random and deal with what I got.
- Have a Notebook With YouAs soon as the seat belts sign are off, I get my notebook and start writing about absolutely everything that comes into my mind. So basically what I do is put thoughts on paper. Oh yeah, old school pen and notebook, no laptops. What time did the plane took off, how many minutes until the sign went off, if the service has started, what am I going to do when I arrive at y destination, how are the passengers, I even write some jokes. Time flies by (I’m so sorry, haha) when I write, really… I do the math on how long has it been since the take off, how much still for landing, because I can’t read when flying, I can’t watch a show I haven’t watched yet, because I can’t pay much attention.
- Google Maps Works On Plane ModeCause it’s GPS, biatches! So you won’t need internet to check where you are, and I absolutely love maps and scales, and I’m checking on it the whole time when the flight does not provide that information. If you are a geography lover like me, you’ll love to know where you are so you can look for Alps or Lakes, depending from where to where you’re traveling to. And that can be a fun time spending on a plane, it is for me. I mean, as fun as I can get out of that, haha.
- Flying Alone Or AccompaniedI prefer flying solo. When I’m with someone I’m afraid I’ll pass my nervousness to the person that is with me. It seems that when I have a friend or a lover with, I open myself to my fear, and many can think that is good but I prefer keeping it to myself. Being a discreet chicken, to sum up. But at the same time, if I’m caught on a turbulence, I like to talk to strangers and I have met people that were really nice to me. I tell them with a I’m sorry face that I’m afraid of flying and I throw the responsibility to the person to prove that he or she is a nice human being and it will tell me all the info I already know: everything is gonna be fine. If it made sense it wouldn’t be irrational, right? Either way, you should know what makes you feel better and try to work with it.
- If You Have Money And I have to say this is not my case, but if I had money, this is what I would probably do. First of all, get upgrades, just because. Second of all, order drinks, why the hell not? Attend a fear of flying course might help, but what I think it could help is taking a flight lesson. And I would love to know personally how things work, this I would do without blinking. Also, choosing your seat nowadays can cost you extra, so I’ll leave this one here as well.
- Avoid CaffeineI already never drink coffee, makes me feel really bad. But if I’m flying, I avoid all types of drinks or even foods that are stimulants, such as Coca-Cola, teas, chocolate, matcha, guaraná, açaí, some pain relievers have caffeine, nothing very sugarish. All these substances take me off of my right mind when my fear is taking over, enhances my physical discomfort and it’s harder for me to being able to relax. What you could do is substitute those with natural muscle relaxers, I’m not into medications or pills, I like to have my mind ready if I need it. My favorite ones are passion fruit juice and chamomile tea.
- KNOWLEGDEKnowledge is power, so they say. The thing is, I’ve stopped trying to overcome the fear and I embrace it. I know what makes me flip and I’ll slowly work on it and I must say, it doesn’t work every time. It just doesn’t. But I’ll challenge you to understand the movements the wings do, very similar to birds movements when they are also taking off, landing, breaking. To know what are the noises of air conditioning, wheels retracting, motor sounds. To be honest, I prefer not hearing anything but to some people might be nice demystifying the noises. It’s also important to know how turbulence works, the 3 types, knowing why traveling during the night is probably when you’re getting less turbulence, for instance. Getting a better understanding of the flying process is important and will empower you to face your fears knowing rationally that what you are felling is irrational.
I’m a very strong advocate for therapy as well, it didn’t help specifically on my fear of flying but it did help me be a good perceiver of feelings and problems in life (and how to deal with them too), so that is something I always suggest and support. I also want to approach the matter in other very quick way. I know that if you are looking for articles that will help you overcome a fear, you are not very interested in perceiving your fear in a different way, a way that could even be useful, to the environment, for instance.
Flying has a huge environmental impact and we’re living in an age where if you don’t take environment issues seriously you are somehow contributing to the problem. With the cheap flights, flying has become extremely popular. Thousands of planes cross the sky every day and the carbon dioxide released is humongous. Even cars are better than planes in some occasions. What I’m saying is, if you can avoid it, it’s better. We are grown ups and it’s time we accept responsibility for our actions!
We can have an open chat on the comment section below or if you would like, feel free to send me a DM. I have been dealing with this for longer than I wished for but I’m finally working my way through it and I wish I could help in some way.