Everywhere on TV, there are always commercials for exotic vacations in beautiful locations. They really make you want to book a trip, pack your bags, and head out on an adventure. Trouble is, many places require a flight(sometimes two!) So what happens when you need to travel by airplane but don’t like to fly?
I admit, I am not the world’s most experienced flyer. In fact, in the past 22 years, I have only been on planes a handful of times, and all before the events of 9/11. Imagine the shock you get when you have to go through security.
In any case, each time I fly, it gets a little bit easier. But I still get nervous. Last year when we went on our trip, I nearly panicked. We were heading to the Bahamas, and I had booked 2 one way tickets. The woman starts asking me about a visa and I am like what?!? Turns out, I just needed the record locator for our flight back home.
Which I couldn’t find at first.
And I panicked some more.
Thankfully the agent was very patient. Not sure about the people behind me, though.
But now that I have had that experience, I know better. I keep a printed copy with my passport and a screenshot on my phone. Knowledge is power when it comes to traveling, so the more you know, the smoother it goes.
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In This Post
Cut Down On The Stress Factor
One of the biggest things about being afraid to travel by airplane is the fear of something going wrong. There is no other way to put it. So being able to deal with your stress and anxiety before flying will make for a more pleasant flight.
Consider What Your Fears May Be
Are you afraid of a plane crash? Missing your connection? Fighting with another passenger over who really booked the aisle seat? Whatever it may be, own up to it and admit what you are afraid of.
Avoid The News Stories
While news can be a wonderful thing, sometimes when you are ready to travel by airplane, watching the news can do more harm than good. Let’s face it though. Things do happen. It is a sad reality in life. Watching the bad all the time is just going to make it worse.
Don’t Be Afraid To Turn Down “Helpful Advice”
I think it is even worse when family or friends try to “help out” by sending links to articles, or calling you on the phone to report a disaster. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT be afraid to tell them that while you appreciate their concern, you don’t want to hear about it.
Plan Ahead For Airplane Travel
One of the best ways to get over your apprehension to travel by airplane is to plan ahead. Make lists. Look up information. Make sure you have everything in place before you step foot in the airport. Being prepared cuts down on anxiety. Trust me.
Research Your Luggage Allowances And Costs When It Comes To Checked Bags & Carry-ons
Check with your airline to find out what you need to know when it comes to luggage. What is the max size? How heavy can it be? How many suitcases are allowed? Knowing this ahead of time can prevent panic at the airport when it comes to luggage size, weight, and the number of pieces.
Some places have a seasonal limit on the number of luggage each person can have, depending on the location the are heading to or coming from. I found that out when I was doing research for our trip. Who would have thought there are seasonal limits?
Plan Your Carry-On Accordingly
If your carry-on is your main piece of luggage, there tips you should consider. Not sure what they are? I shared about traveling with a carry-on only. If you have a carry-on as an addition to your checked bags, keep in mind what you have in it.
Remember The Liquids Rule For Airplane Travel
One of the most important policies you need to read and understand is the Liquids rule for travel by airplane. I am sharing the link to the TSA website since they are the authority for this rule, and should be used as you ultimate reference.
Read Up On Going Through Security Checkpoints
Last year, I got flagged for a special screening because my shirt tied at the bottom. It isn’t something I would have thought of, but the TSA agents take it very seriously. That is their job. So know what the process is, plan accordingly, and dress simply to avoid any problems.
Remember that laptops & any camera equipment must be taken out of your carry-on to be scanned separately. It is a lot of stuff to keep track of, so when packing, you may consider leaving one or all of these items at home.
Don’t forget to take change out of your pockets, and place your cell phone in with your shoes. So, in this case, less is more.
Pro Tip: Never let your passport out of your hands. Keep it on you as you pass through security. This also goes for your driver’s license(if you are traveling domestic) and boarding pass.
Know Your Destination’s Flight Time
Does it bother you when you think of a long flight? Consider finding a flight that breaks up the journey or travel the night before for one leg. Your layover is a great tool when you aren’t sure you can handle a direct flight.
Be Mindful Of Layover Times
Speaking of layovers, one of my flight nightmares is missing my connection. Make sure you budget enough time between your flights if you have to have a layover. You never know if you will miss your connection if your original flight is late. For me, I never book a flight if the layover is less than 120 minutes.
Some airports can be a nightmare, you never know how long customs is going to take. By planning your layover wisely, you will find you have time for a bathroom break and a meal break before your next flight.
Consider getting Global Entry. You can skip long lines, have TSAPre ✓ , and not have to take off your shoes. For more information, you can read about Global Entry more. For the price, it is well worth it. Friends of ours have it, and we will be working on getting that very soon.
Look At The Airport Map If You Have Not Been There Before
If you are worried about getting lost when finding your gate, take the time to check out an airport’s map. You can see where you are going to be, what is in that vicinity(bathrooms & food), and where you need to go.
It’s All About Your Seat
Sometimes the best way to decrease fear when you have to travel by airplane is to pick the right seat. I always take a window seat because I need the horizon for a point of reference. I like to see where we’ve been and where we are headed.
If you need to move about to feel less anxious, or are super tall, the aisle seat is probably better for you. Keep in mind though, if your seatmates have to use the bathroom, you are the one always getting up.
And if seat placement doesn’t mean a thing to you, then the middle can be for you too. Look at these options before you book your flight and choose your seat.
Pay Attention To The Safety Briefing
A flight attendant’s primary job is to continuously ensure passenger safety. It is important that you listen to the flight attendant when they tell you to fasten your seat belt and turn off your electronic devices.
If a flight attendant is asking you to do something, it is recommended that you immediately follow his or her instructions and ask questions later.
Part of the apprehension about flying is the fear of the unknown. By getting the proper information, you will cut down on the stress about how to travel by airplane.
Today will be my first solo flight. Generally I fly with my husband, so if I forget something, he can remind me. Now I am on my own, but planning ahead has made it easier. See? It is all about the plan!
Have The Proper Tools To Travel By Airplane
Another way to make airplane travel relaxing is to treat it like a car. No, I am serious. Have a soft blanket, maybe a travel pillow too.
Start With A Good Pair Of Noise-Cancelling Headphones
My husband swears by these when we fly. A quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones are worth their weight in gold, especially on an extended flight. You won’t hear your seatmate(as in me)snore, the sounds of the engines won’t be as intrusive, and it helps keep you centered.
Just remember, if you see the seat belt sign or the flight attendants all moving around, check to make sure they aren’t making announcements about landings or food service.
Have An I-Pod With Your Favorite Tunes
To go along with your headphones, you should have an I-Pod full of your favorite tunes or even podcasts to listen to. Have soothing music. Have hard rock. Whatever helps calm you down is the way to go!
For me, when we are heading to Jamaica, it is ALL about Bob Marley! Gets me in the island mood and distracts me from the flight itself.
Don’t Forget A Good Book Or Magazine
As a bookseller, I will always recommend a good book to distract you. Grab your destination guide. Lose yourself in a steamy romance. Thumb through a magazine you have been wanting to read. This is the best time to get up on all your media since there really isn’t anywhere to go or anything that needs to be done.
Think About Comfort Items
As I mentioned above, comfort items can help make a flight better. Bring them from home so the familiar scents comfort you. Snuggling is always the perfect comfort mechanism, no matter what your mode of travel is.
Some items to consider are:
Avoid The Alcohol(And Caffeine If You Can)
As tempting as it is to drink your way through a flight, that is probably not the right decision if you are nervous about flying. You may find yourself more keyed up and unable to relax. Save this treat for a future flight when you are more comfortable with your travel by airplane.
Consider A Light Snack Instead
Grab a snack in the airport after you pass through security. Or, you can wait for those wonderful cookies they serve on the plane. One bite of those and I am instantly in vacation mode.
Drink Water Or Juice
Staying hydrated is a great way to maintain your balance. Having a small glass of juice also helps keep your blood sugar even, and you are less likely to become anxious. Don’t go overboard, though, or you will be busy waiting to use the bathroom.
Medicate As A Last Resort When You Travel By Airplane
Some doctors prescribe medication for flying. If at all possible, try to avoid it. You don’t want to be groggy when you need to be alert. This is especially important if you are flying solo. You need to be aware of your surroundings, cognizant when filling out forms, and alert enough to follow directions should the need arise.
Visualize Your Destination
Anxious about your flight? Close your eyes and remember where you are going. Picture yourself on that beach or cruise ship. Remember the wheres and whys behind your plane trip.
Know What To Do Once You Reach Your Destination
Now what happens once you land? You may find yourself anxious about the next steps. You can cut down on that by finding out what you need to do before you leave your house. Check with your hotel if they have a shuttle & how you are supposed to contact them. Investigate where you can find taxis or other transportation. Getting all these details ironed out before you leave home will help make your flight more relaxing.