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Yes, I’m an avid traveler who’s afraid of flying.
Every time my flight starts boarding I feel the knot in my stomach flip and get just a little tighter. My mind starts to race with intrusive thoughts, made worse only with each bump and bounce of turbulence.
Rather than never fly again, I’ve learned how to overcome nervousness. If you’re feeling a little iffy about your upcoming trip, I hope these five tips for first time flyers can help you face your fears!
1. Take A Good Book
Seriously, it seems simple, but I’ve found over the years that airplane movies just don’t cut it. The only way I can really escape from reality and overcome my nerves is with a really good book.
If you’re smack in the middle of an awesome one, put it down (no matter how hard it is) and save it for your next flight. Trust me, you’ll be so glad you did when you get drawn into the story and soon feel the plane touch down without even noticing the flight has passed!
If you need a recommendation, check out this list of my all-time favorite adventure books to get you excited for your trip!
2. Repeat a Prayer or Mantra in Your Mind
I don’t do yoga or meditation, but I imagine this is the poor man’s version of the two.
If you’ve boarded your flight and can’t get the thought of a fiery death out of your mind, pick a short and simple phrase to repeat. This can help fight the intrusive thoughts and anxious feelings associated with your fear of flying.
Anytime you realize your thoughts have wandered from your mantra, simply return them back to it. I often use this method to manage my anxious thoughts when it’s really bad and I can’t focus on a book. Anything easy and repetitive will do – you’ll start to zone out and relax in no time.
3. Try to Sleep
Easier said than done right?
If you’re like me and don’t take sleeping pills, don’t worry because there’s still hope. One of my biggest tips for first time flyers is to take advantage of white nouse. I was NEVER be able to sleep on airplanes until I started listening to it.
Download a white noise app on your phone (they’re free) and blast it into your earphones. It drowns out everything else around you and will help take you out of your current situation and into dreamland.
Classical music can also do the trick, but listening to anything with words that I know and can sing along to usually only distracts me more and keeps me wide awake. If you haven’t tried using white noise to help overcome nervousness while flying, download an app today.
4. Do Your Research
Fear is not always logical, but you can use logic to combat it.
Statistically speaking, you’re safer on your flight than you were while driving to and from the airport. Check out this live radar map showing all current flights. There are an insane amount of planes in the air at any given time, and none of them are going down. Flights very rarely crash – it only seems much more common because the media coverage is so intense when they do.
On top of that, did you know that a plane has NEVER crashed from turbulence alone?
There are so many safety checks in place that Malcolm Gladwell theorizes that seven things have to go wrong at once for a flight to go down. That means even if your pilot has a heart attack while flying into a hurricane, you’re still going to land safely at your destination.
5. Keep an Eye on the Flight Attendants
My final tip for first time flyers feeling nervous about the trip is to watch the flight attendants. Someone told me this years ago and I’ve kept it in the back of my mind ever since.
Hear a weird sound, feel a strange bump, or think you smell something wrong on the plane? It’s probably just your anxiety getting the best of you, but how can you be sure? By judging the reactions of the flight attendants.
They fly every day and are in tune with every function of the plane. If something wasn’t right, they would be the first to notice and take charge. Usually, when you’re busy freaking out, they’re smiling and serving food without a care in the world. Take your cue from them, and don’t worry until they do!
Flying isn’t always easy or enjoyable, but it’s definitely necessary for travelers like me to continue doing what we love. Hopefully, these five tips for first time flyers will help put your mind at ease on your trip and make the journey more bearable.
Let me know in the comments below which one works for you!