5 Tips for Overcoming your Fear of Flying

When creating the mission statement for Passports to Life, I thought about what I wanted to accomplish with my site. I came up with the following:

Inspire wanderlust through photos, videos, and posts and to prove that world travel is within everybody’s reach.

Originally I thought “being within everybody’s reach” was a statement about the financial feasibility of travel, but today I received a message on facebook. I realized that some people may have the means and desire to travel, but have fears or qualms about travel that put it out of their reach.

I have several family members who have a fear of flying that get panic attack symptoms at the slightest sign of turbulence.  If you have a fear of flying, know that you are not alone as it is estimated at up to 40% of Americans have some sort of anxiety when it comes to flying.

Overcome your fear of flying

Let me qualify that I am not a psychologist, nor do I know a whole lot about the inner workings of the body’s fear and anxiety mechanisms. The following ideas are just my thoughts on how I would try to help a friend or family member overcome this fear.

1. Distract yourself

fear of flying
In Flight Entertainment Screen

Almost all flights have WiFi and entertainment on them now. Throw on a movie or TV show and get lost in it. There is usually a good selection, so choose something you’ll enjoy and act as if you were in the comfort of your own home! Bring some soothing music with you and use it to relax or meditate yourself into calmness.

2. Learn about how flight works

Hard at Work Making Sure You are safe
Hard at Work Making Sure You are safe via Adobe Stock

Knowing the basic physics about how a plane flies may help your mind from racing to the image you remember from any movies with severe (unrealistic) airplane turbulence scenes. It’s important to know that the lift created by the airplane wings allow fairly smooth gliding even without the thrust of engines. Commercial airplanes are very meticulously maintained, serviced, and are inspected before and after every flight. If your fear is turbulence, think of it as potholes in the road. Turbulence is just pockets of unsteady air in the otherwise smooth sky.

3. Start Small

About a 2 hour flight from Charlotte to Miami via Google Maps
About a 2 hour flight from Charlotte to Miami via Google Maps

Your first flight when you’re trying to overcome your fear of flying shouldn’t be from New York to Abu Dhabi. Start small, take a flight from the Northeast down to Florida, Fly from California over to Las Vegas! These flights between 1 and 3 hours will ease you in to becoming more comfortable on airplanes. Once you have a couple short flights under your belt book some longer flights – east coast to west cost, east coast to Europe, or south east to Latin America. Keep gradually increasing your flights until you’ve caught the travel bug and are comfortable with flying.

4. There’s an app for that

The Valk App
The Valk App

There is an app called Valk that helps you through the moments that make you anxious while flying. For $3.99 you will always have an “in-flight therapist” to help combat your fear of flying. The app was created by the Valk foundation with scientifically backed methods of combating fears. The foundation boasts a 98% success rate in helping patients overcome their fears.

5. If all else fails, have a drink

Champagne with a view from The Pier Lounge
Champagne with a view from The Pier Lounge

When that beverage cart comes around grab a glass of wine. The depressant attributes of alcohol with help the Central Nervous System calm down. A calmer mind will lead to less anxiety and a more peaceful flight. At the same time you should avoid coffee or other drinks with caffeine as they will have the opposite effect on your CNS.

 

These are just a few tips to help you overcome your fear of flying. There are plenty of other resources on the web. If you have overcome your fear of flying let me know how you did it in the comments below!

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