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Fear of Flying: Simple Ways to Minimize Anxiety While Traveling

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Many people fear flying. For some it is more serious than others. No matter how much you fear or do not fear flying, nearly everyone could appreciate some simple tips to make your air travel experience more pleasant. Over many years of air travel, both foreign and domestic, I have come up with a few good tips.

  • 1. Keep Your Attention Occupied

As the old adage goes “idle hands are the devil’s playground.” However, in this case, it is an idle mind that can get you into all sorts of trouble. If you have nothing to think about other than the fact that you are flying and you are afraid of it, then you will likely have a very difficult time controlling anxiety. Here are some air travel specific tips to keep you from fixating on your anxiety:

  • 2. Bring Along Reading Material.

Before you board the plane, select a book or magazine that you have been waiting to read and save it for the plane. You can purchase this material before you leave for the airport, or most major airports offer newsstands in most terminals that offer a wide variety of materials. If reading isn’t your thing, then select a cross-word or puzzle magazine.

  • 3. Immerse Yourself in the Digital Age.

If you are fortunate enough to own a portable music player, you can load it up with your favorite tunes to listen to while you are traveling. Many folks find their favorite music to be very soothing, and will allow you to focus on something more pleasant than a long day traveling.

  • 4. Take Advantage of In-Flight Entertainment.

Before you leave on your trip, take a few minutes to check out the amenities your airline offers in flight. Many offer television screens at each seat and a variety of programing ranging from video games, to movies, to television. Other airlines offer satellite radio and in-cabin movies. Remember to bring your own earphones, as not every airline offers them free of charge.

  • 5. Keep Yourself Comfortable.

This tip seems self explanatory, but I have seen people trying to make their way through the airport in some of the most uncomfortable outfits. However, comfort in travel does not only have to do with what you wear or what you take with you. The more comfortable your body is, the easier it will be to keep a comfortable mind.

  • 6. Dress Comfortably.

I cannot stress the value of this too much. You are traveling, not trying to win a best dressed competition. So, dress in nice, but comfortable clothing. Loose fitting clothing, preferably layered, will allow you to adapt to a range of temperature conditions. Comfortable, sturdy shoes, and quality socks will help you to keep a solid footing while moving about the airplane cabin and eventually the airport.

  • 7. Wear Your Glasses.

If you wear contact lenses, you may want to consider giving them a rest while you travel. Plane cabins are pressurized and recirculate air, causing contacts to easily dry out and become VERY uncomfortable. Add to that the restrictions on amounts of liquid toiletries you can bring, and you may find that you are without contact solution to rehydrate them. So, play it safe and wear your glasses instead. That will keep your eyes comfortable and give you the assurance of being able to see clearly what is going on around you.

  • 8. Practice Stress Relief.

With a little planning, stress relief should be relatively easily managed while traveling. I have found many natural ways to calm down during a flight as well as some conventional remedies.

  • 9. Know Where You Are.

When you are situated in your seat, take a moment to note where the closest emergency exit is and how many rows away it is. This does not have to be panic inducing. The key is to absorb it as a fact, and not to dwell on it. Just place it in your memory bank for use in the very unlikely event that you need it. Being reasonably prepared can take some of the fear out of traveling.

  • 10. Practice Aromatherapy.

This stress reliever should be practiced discreetly and with sensitivity for other travelers. If you have the ability to purchase a small bottle of lavender essential oil (most bottles are less than 1 ounce), you can dab a drop or two on your pulse points. Breathing in the relaxing scent of lavender can help calm you very quickly. If this is not a possibility, or you fear this would be too obtrusive, you can purchase a lavender scented pillow or sachet at many specialty bath and body stores before you leave on your trip.

  • 11. Drink Some Tea.

Most airlines will give you the option of having hot water when they are delivering their in flight beverage or meal service. You can take advantage of this by bringing a few tea bags of your favorite variety. The two types I have found to be the best for stress relief are any sort of chamomile tea, and Tension Tamer Tea by Celestial Seasonings, both are herbal teas and contain no caffeine. You can purchase these or other sorts of herbal teas at most supermarkets. Do not discount this tip, it has calmed many anxious moments for myself and others.

  • 12. Take Some Sleeping Pill.

If you are prone to motion sickness, you need to be prepared. Taking Dramamine or another motion sickness medicine has two benefits. First, it helps keep you from becoming sick to your stomach. Second, it can help make you sleepy, and if you can sleep through your flight, you won’t be worrying.

When all else fails, there is one other thing that can help allay your fears. If you suddenly become fearful, look at your traveling companion and the other travelers in your compartment. If they all seem to be calm and relaxed, then you have nothing to fear. Remember, the cabin crew on your flight is highly trained and there to assist you. So sit back and enjoy your flight. Your destination awaits you!

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