Battling an annoying and completely useless fear of flying?
Yeah, I know all about what that’s like. I have been doing that for more than 15 years, somewhat dependent on the form of the day – but always there. This is why I have a few great nervous flyer tips for all the nervous flyers out there!
Having nerves, or fear of flying is very common, and different people have different hang-ups about the flying that they find difficult. Some struggle with the take-off (like me), some have fear of turbulence, and others again fear flying over water or feel claustrophobic in the plane.
More useless waste of energy probably is unheard of, because once in a plane there is nothing you can do about anything, but accept your current situation. And you want to travel, right?
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I Have Experience In Flying With Fear
I, you see, am sometimes spending most of my flight time in a state of extreme vigilance. Listening for sounds out of the ordinary, prepared at any time to raise the alarm at dangerous issues the flight crew might not pick up on.
Ready to assist the pilots on the flight deck in an emergency should they require my assistance. Yep, I know. But that is what I am doing.
So how do we deal with this issue, people? Well, if it were easy, I would have gotten rid of mine years ago. But as a frequent flyer with a well-developed fear of flying, I have also developed some coping mechanisms over the years that might help you too.
If you cannot get rid of it, there are things you can do to deal with it, manage and live (and fly) a little easier with it. Here are my nervous flyer tips!
1. The Power Of Flight Statistics
First of all, implement the science of statistics. The fear of flying is irrational, BUT not completely rooted in fantasy. Because sometimes flights do go wrong. It is not like, say, a fear of alien invasion, which is one level up on the scale.
But still, when it comes to flying, statistics is ON YOUR SIDE.
I bet you do not get into a train or bus, or your car, obsessing over whether this means of transport may well end in death and devastation during your journey. Yet, the statistical odds are a lot worse for all of the above.
Trains and buses get into trouble a lot more often than planes. And you are not a better driver than average (like 80% of drivers tend to think, again; statistics). It is a lot more likely you will get yourself into trouble, or meet an idiot on the road.
Statistically, there is a one-in-5.3 million chance of you at some point being in a plane that encounters severe trouble during your lifetime. That means you could fly every day for 14.716 years before anything should happen. You have a better chance of winning the lottery, twice! So, keep that in mind from the start.
2. Some Crazy People Fly For A Living
The next thing is that some people do this for a living. Some people, the flight crew, get into this death trap every day of their life in order to work. And if the risk really was what your gut tells you, the mortality rate of flying personnel probably would be a lot higher, and recruitment levels lower.
Thing is, they also know a lot more about aerodynamics than you probably do, and still choose to do this for a living.
I tend to tell myself that they too, want to get home for dinner, and their risk analysis probably is a lot more qualified than mine. I choose to trust them.
3. Take A Fear Of Flying Management Course
Take a fear of flying course! At your nearest airport there most likely are courses or fear of flying classes either organized by an airline or a travel company. Or search for an online fear of flying course if you are not near an airport.
I have taken such a course, and although it did not remove my flying issues completely, it did help me manage my thoughts a little. Now my head works more to my advantage than the opposite when flying.
They tell you about aerodynamics, mental training, and physical exercises that might help. Some places you go inside a plane to learn all about it, or even go for a short flight! All these little things help you in the right direction.
4. Fear Of Flying Therapy
There are therapy options if you have a serious problem, for example, that you refrain from traveling altogether due to your phobia.
One therapy form you may try is hypnotherapy. The idea is that it connects to the unconscious, and aims to change our thoughts and behaviors associated with the flight.
Through suggestion and relaxation techniques, hypnotherapy is said to help you to become a more relaxed, calmer thinker, and help you to feel safer and in control of your fears.
I have not tried this myself, but Sara Gallo who runs the blog The Five Foot Traveler explains in this interview with Jessie from Jessie on a Journey how she overcame her flying phobia. Take a look to see if it is for you!
5. Move Around A Bit On The Flight
Get up and walk a little during your flight! This may seem irrelevant as a tip at first glance, but let me tell you why this is a good idea.
When YOU are moving around the plane, you will actually pay LESS attention to all the potentially devastating sounds and movements of the aircraft.
Your senses are busy moving you and your body around, and this will diminish your focus and ability to pick up on, evaluate and assess all the sensory information that takes all your capacity when you are sitting still.
And look out the window every now and then, it just might be beautiful out there. Takes the edge off. Give it a try!
6. Tell The Crew Or Your Next Seat Neighbor
If you have a really bad flying day; tell the crew. This somehow makes things feel a little better, and also gets you some nice attention and TLC during your flight (even if you fly economy).
I have had flight attendants sitting next to me for parts of flights, holding my hand and with great skill and compassion making me turn my mind towards more happy thoughts!
I have also held the hands of strangers next to me (pre-covid of course), and once I even ended up sitting next to a Christian missionary who said prayers out loud for me the entire flight.
Took my mind off things for sure, and was kind of helpful. Did not change my religious point of view though, but I was very thankful.
7. If All Else Fails – WINE (Or Yur (Legal) Substance Of Choice)
If all else fails, you always have wine – or your self-medication substance of choice (within the legal sphere of course).
My idea of what hours in the day drinking is acceptable changes dramatically when I am in an airport waiting to board a plane.
If it is a shitty fly-day for me, I head for the bar at 06:28 in the morning if I see it fit. No shame, no regrets.
8. Lastly – Always Remember WHY You Are Flying
And lastly, keep in the very frontal lobe of your mind the WHY, why you are taking this flight!? At the other end of this flight may be great adventures, new friends, or business opportunities! Or maybe beaches, long-lost family, and excellent shopping?
Whatever lies on the other end of your dreaded flight highly likely is worth it. Something you and your LIFE would be missing out on just because your nervous system is having a go at your normal sense of reason.
Mind over matter everyone! Educate yourself, face your fears, have a drink, and laugh a little at yourself to take the edge off.
And invest in some things that make you feel cozy and comfortable, like a small blanket, a scarf, a travel pillow, or some of these travel essentials for anxious flyers recommended by another anxious flyer!
Enjoy your flight – and this foto of a secluded beach somewhere in Costa Rica <3
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Here is also my 2022 travel shopping advice for gadgets and clever things that makes your traveling easy peasy breazy!
Read more from The World By Hege about travel resources & hacks simplifying your travel planning.
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