Fear of flying? Tips from an experience expert
How can you write for a travel website but also have an intense fear of flying?! I’m proof that it’s actually possible. For years, I’ve been enduring every airplane journey with sweaty hands. But somehow, I’ve been managing to power through!
I always feel immensely torn at the prospect of flying to a vacation destination. As soon as I’ve picked a place, booked my ticket, and found my perfect accommodation, I too get excited about the upcoming trip – but there’s just as much anxiety as well. Looking forward to the destination while dreading the journey to it; it’s an exhausting combination sometimes.
Fear of flying: my personal tips
I did not want to let my fear of flying stop me from travelling – as much as I question my sanity every time I find myself aboard an airplane. Throughout the years, I’ve collected a very useful set of tips, from books, from a psychologist, and from simply trying myself. They’ve been immensely useful to me so I’d love to share them with you too!
1. You’re not alone!
35 percent of people has some kind of fear of flying; the intensity and reasons behind it differ from person to person. So when you board that plane, look for those other people who have a similar combination of excitement and complete panic in their eyes. At least you’re in this together…
2. Share what you feel
Don’t hesitate to tell your travel companions or even the plane crew about your feelings of fair. The crew has been trained particularly to comfort those who are scared of flying. They can calmly tell you what turbulence is and make sure you don’t exaggerate what’s actually going on. They’ll make you feel safe!
3. Your own “First Flying Aid Kit”
Fill this personal box with things that will make the journey and your own fear more manageable. In my case, I will not fly anywhere without chocolate, a magazine, a book of puzzles, a bottle of water, and cabaret shows on my phone. And it’s even better to have a travel companion that can comfort you when needed – but you don’t necessarily have to stuff him or her into your box as well.
4. Take care of your body
Don’t drink too much caffeine, because this will actually give you a more anxious feeling. Drink plenty of water, bring some snack veggies along with you, and refrain from eating junk food. If your body feels balanced and comfortable, you will too!
5. Breathe in, breathe out
Whenever you feel afraid, your breathing will grow faster and move higher up your chest. Try to focus on your belly when breathing, and try to steady the pace of inhaling and exhaling. I like to use an app (like Stop, Breathe, Think) to help me with keeping the pace.
6. Take a course or read a self-help book
If you are really too scared to board an airplane, an actual course to deal with fear of flying might be a good solution for you. You will get a focused, intensive training program with a dedicated team, and you will most likely experience a “therapeutic flight” as well. In the Netherlands, such courses are organised by institutions such as Stichting Valk and Onbezorgd vliegen. Even virtual reality could help you conquer your own fears (see the video below). A lighter, more accessible version of this is to read a self-help book. In Dutch, there’s a book called Over vliegangst en hoe je ervan afkomt (“About fear of flying and how to get rid of it”) that I can wholeheartedly recommend before your next plane trip.
7. Visualise your destination
Distract yourself from your feelings of anxiety and think about where you’re headed. Visualise your destination and focus on all the beautiful new adventures you’ll be able to experience soon because you managed to get yourself onto an airplane!