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7 travel tips for nervous flyers

Flying make you queasy? You’re not alone.

In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 40% of all people suffer from some form of flying fear—or aviophobia as it’s officially classified. But we’ve got you covered.

Our 7 travel tips for nervous flyers will make your next flight a little bit more comfortable (and bearable).

Remind yourself of the statistics

Once you’ve got your head around the fact that planes fly, which erm, may seem unnatural, it’s worth reminding yourself that flying is indeed very safe. In fact, it’s often said that flying is the safest way to travel. Between 2012-2016, the chances of dying in a commercial plane crash were 1 in 3.37 billion.

And of the 140 plane crashes during this time, only two involved fatalities. Between 2008 and 2017, there was 1 death per 7.9 million passenger boardings. So the statistics are quite comforting. 

Consider exposure and cognitive behavioural therapy 

These two therapies require time and a highly trained professional to administer. They involve retraining your responses to recognised fear and stress triggers. 

In the case of somebody fearful of flying, the patient will be put into a scenario that resembles the factors and environments that activate the phobia. Only the exposure is in a completely safe environment, where the patient understands that no harm will be experienced. Regular exposure to anxiety stimuli can retrain the brain and rewire its response. Clever stuff, huh?

Turn off the in-flight tracker

If you’re flying long haul, you’ll likely have a screen in front of you showing the journey of the plane and its current location. It also details potentially triggering information such as altitude, length travelled, local weather and time to destination. 

Turn it off. 

Watching the status of the plane over a 10-hour flight is a surefire way to drive yourself crazy… and anxious. Pop your headphones in instead and try to lose yourself in a movie, podcast or your favourite album.

Lift your feet up

Making yourself comfortable on a flight is paramount to alleviating any mental discomfort. Be wary of the person next to you, however. Smelly feet could unleash all kinds of other stress and anxieties in your fellow passengers.

Lifting your feet off the floor is also a great way to ease anxiety around turbulence. If the plane experiences a few bumps, you’ll be able to feel less of the impact with your feet up. Many swear it’s an instant relief.

Turn to the flight attendants

It’s always worth letting the flight attendants know that you’re nervous prior to setting off. Most likely, they’ll reassure you and some may even come over during the flight to check on you.

Another tip is to watch them. Flight attendants fly all the time and many of them actually find the experience quite mundane. Looking at their relaxed faces is sure to help make you feel more relaxed.

Practice mindful breathing

Breathing exercises are great for alleviating anxiety. In the run-up to your flight, learn and practice new techniques that will help you to stay calm when stressed.

You could also research and download some mindfulness podcasts before you depart. Having them playing while flying can guide you to breathe correctly and remind you to take deep breaths in and out if you forget or fall off track.

Focus on your destination

A great way to distract yourself from the journey to your destination is to think about your destination. Visualise your arrival and think of all the things you plan to do when you land. 

If you’ve flown before, remind yourself that you made it in one piece and that you will again.

Safe flight! And remember—you’re in good company.

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2022-03-18

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