I’m scared of flying and I know I’m not alone.
I never used to be scared of flying.
As a teenager I loved it and was lucky enough to live overseas for a time and travel a bit with my parents. There was nothing more exciting than takeoff and landing at the old Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong.
Then one day a few years ago I had a really bad flight.
The kind where the plane drops several thousand feet in a matter of seconds. Lots of people screamed, myself included. The latch on my suitcase broke in the cargo hold. I found myself refusing to get on the connecting small plane. I had my first full blown panic attack. Crying hysterically in the middle of an airport was certainly not my finest moment. That was the beginning of my love hate relationship with flying.
I refuse to let the fear get in the way of my love of travel any longer.
I still keenly feel the anxiety starting to build up a week or so out from a flight. I talk myself out of flying each time the suggestion comes up. I then come up with many reasons why it is still the best option, for one it’s the fastest way to get anywhere.
I have a saying that helps me. I use it like a mantra.My desire to get to my destination is stronger than my fear of the journey. Click To Tweet
I’d like to share with you some of the techniques I’ve tried to help me get through a flight.
Just a small caveat: This is not a replacement for medical advice.
My top 10 fear of flying hacks
- Mantras: like the one I shared above. Repeat it over and over in your head when you feel the anxiety building.
- EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as Tapping): it’s better used prior to flying but I’ve used it while up in the air. Don’t bother worrying about what other passengers think of you tapping on various points of your head and body. If it helps use it.
- Rescue Remedy Bach flower essence: I find the lozenges most helpful as sucking on them helps unblock your ears too. These won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and I’m fine with that. This list is what I’ve found helpful, feel free to try it or not.
- Lift your feet up: getting my feet off the floor during turbulence really works for me. I don’t physically feel the plane move as much beacuse I’m moving more too. Holding on and being super rigid just accentuates the bumps. Go with them instead.
- Reiki: you can do self healing once you’ve had your level 1 attunement. Even just the simple fact of having my hands on my belly help to calm me. Try it, even if you aren’t a Reiki channel.
- Meditation: I use apps to help me get to a place of inner calm quicker. Load your faves on your device before you get in the air. In a pinch I’ve meditated to the easy listening music channel on the in flight entertainment.
- Travel with a companion: having someone else to talk to and support you is great. If they aren’t already aware, just let them know you have some anxiety around flying. It’s probable they have some level of anxiety too.
- Choose your seat wisely: check out Seat Guru, pay extra if you need to so that you aren’t stuck up the back of the plane. Sitting over the wings toward the front of the plane tends to be smoother. Don’t book the window seat if that is going to make your anxiety worse.
- Visualisation: this ties in nicely with my mantra. I like to focus on building a strong picture in my mind of the places I will see and experience once I get to my destination.
- Anxiety medication: I really try to moderate my use of them, But if you have prescription medication, use it…don’t try to be a hero, it often doesn’t end well in my experience.
This list is not exhaustive and there are other options I haven’t needed to resort to but wouldn’t hesitate to if need be. Things like seeing a psychologist or a hypnotherapist. I’d be keen to hear if any of you have tried seeking professional help for fear of flying and what the results were.
On top of the anxiety around flying I’ve always suffered from travel sickness. Not only do I have to talk myself into flying I need to deal with the discomforts of motion sickness.
Here are some of my tips and tricks. I use these in tandem with the anxiety hacks above.
My top 10 motion sickness hacks
- Hydrate: drink water, recycled air is drying. You should be drinking a couple of litres of water a day anyway. Avoid soft drinks, they are not as hydrating and will just make you go to the bathroom more.
- Sit somewhere your vision is not obstructed: I’ve found sitting face up to a wall in a plane makes me feel far worse. Being able to see the horizon really helps give you a reference point particularly on buses or trains. Once again use Seat Guru.
- Acupressure Wrist Bands: I swear by these. Put them on half an hour before take off and leave them on until you get to your destination. During turbulence, push your fingers onto the bead like protrusion so it further presses onto the acupressure point.
- Ginger: lollies, tea or even crystallised chunks. Ginger is a well known natural anti nausea treatment.
- Ditch the caffeine: even as a die hard coffee addict I will admit that caffeine is dehydrating, so on flights I pack my own herbal teas. You don’t even need to ask for hot water, they will brew slowly in cold water and sometimes a cooler drink is better than a hot one raising your temperature when you already don’t feel well.
- Deep breathing: slowing down your breathing drops your heart rate which then activates your parasympathetic nervous system.
- Get some air: turn the air vent towards you or use a hand held fan. Air moving over your face can help to alleviate the nausea.
- Travel sickness tablets: sometimes you have to bring out the big guns. If you get more just a little nauseous you might want to grab some medicinal help. I’m okay flying without these most of the time but don’t ask me to get on a boat without them!
- Don’t drink alcohol: it will dehydrate you and it’s a depressant. It might make you feel more relaxed initially but the longer the flight the likely worse you will feel.
- Splash cold water on your face: this can also help to make you feel less flushed and nauseous.
I’ve tried getting around flying and the alternatives haven’t always turned out any better. Like hiring a driver to get us from Penang to Kuala Lumpur who turned out to be a serial tailgater and exceeded the speed limit by more than 40 kilometres per hour. I’ve never used my passenger breaks more enthusiastically. He was super proud of getting us there quickly. We were just grateful to get there alive. One thing for sure, next time I’ll just get the plane!I'm changing FEAR from standing for False Evidence Appearing Real to Face Everything And Relax. Click To Tweet
Facing your fears head on are not easy but I’ve found the gains far outweigh the short term pain, real or imagined.
If I had not kept getting on planes and working through strategies to change my experience of flying I would have missed out on a great many things:
- Skipping off to Thailand for my 40th birthday
- Attending Nana’s 90th birthday in Adelaide.
- Celebrating my Nephew & Niece’s wedding in Far North Queensland
- Returning to Hong Kong to explore the places I loved as a teenager
- Falling in love twice over with the beauty, food and people of Malaysia.
We are busy dreaming up plans for our next trip. Who knows where but I’m willing to bet it includes at least one plane ride!
From my heart to yours,