Hello, my name is Isolde MaReisen – and I have a fear of flying! Smiles quietly! I’m aware of the irony myself that as a frequent flyer, you’re a backpacker if… and travel blogger, I actually struggle with fear of flying. However, it has gotten a lot better…
There have been times in my life when I could not board an airplane without beads of sweat on my forehead, damp hands, tears in my eyes and soft knees. Almost paranoid, I walked up and down the airport window to check my plane for potential bugs, broken engines or other defects. My seat neighbors also had to suffer. Whether it was a travel partner or a stranger, I liked to clutch my fingers in fear in their arms and hands when the plane was about to take off. My fear of flying even went so far that I voluntarily gave up a Portugal trip in 2004 to escape flying. Crazy or?
Not flying is not a solution either!
But a globetrotter’s heart beats in my chest. And of course, I’ve always been aware that I’ll never be able to travel to all those faraway places if I don’t learn to fight my fear of flying. To this day, it hasn’t gone away, that sinking feeling in my stomach when I see a plane; the trembling when called for boarding at the airport; the sleeplessness on a long-haul flight. But I have learned to deal with my fear of flying.
This is my fear of flying face – turbulence over southern India.
Maybe you feel like me? Do you also have a fear of flying and suffer every time you board a plane?? Then I hope that my 12 tips against fear of flying will take away some of your fear. Don’t let your fear of flying imprison you!
From fear of flying to fear of flying…
Above the clouds, the freedom must be boundless? Instead of boundless freedom, passengers like me who suffer from "aviophobia" struggle with boundless fear, panic and nausea. Because even if the airplane is called again and again a safe means of transport 10% – 15% of the Germans suffer from fear of flying. Fear of flying can greatly diminish the anticipation of the upcoming vacation.
I, too, have struggled with mortal fear before every flight since my first flight at age 7. But I have learned to deal with my aviophobia and to get my panic under control – my addiction to distance is too big! How I do it, you will learn in the following article. From fear of flying to fear of flying: 12 tips against fear of flying!
(1) Knowledge is power – get informed!
In fact, most people are only afraid of flying because they don’t know anything about planes. In our heads many horror stories of bad Hollywood movies circulate and also the big headlines about airplane crashes in news and newspapers shake again and again to the core. However, the fact is – and I have to keep reminding myself of this: The airplane is considered one of the safest means of transportation in the world.
After scouring nearly every airplane accident statistic in the world and intimately studying the airline blacklist in my paranoia, I was forced to conclude: NOW I am even more afraid! It is simply useless to inform yourself about bad airlines and accidents. This only creates more mistrust and insecurity. For a long time I could list you plane crashes with type of plane and year as well as extent of the catastrophe from the FF. But when asked why an airplane actually flies, I remained silent.
Knowledge is power, also in terms of fear of flying. It’s best to write down all the things that scare you when you fly. Read the right statistics, understand the system and refute your fears with sound knowledge. If you know the facts, you can calm the little fear-of-flying rabbit inside.
(2) Book the right seat!
In my flight paranoia, I have of course also dealt extensively with statistics that supposedly provide information about which seat in the plane is the safest in terms of survival chances in a potential crash. And yes I know, that really goes a bit far&
Sit in front of, above or behind the wings? It depends..
The fact is, there are seats in the airplane that are more or less suitable for fear of flying. If you are afraid of turbulence and undefinable movements and vibrations, it is best to choose a seat above the wings, because here the movements of the machine are felt the least. If you suffer from dizziness and disorientation, then sit at the window, because the view into the distance has a calming effect on your sense of balance. If you suffer from claustrophobia or the constricting feeling in the plane, you should avoid the window seat and sit in the aisle, preferably near the emergency exits. This will give you the opportunity to get up and walk a few steps at a time. Seats in the front of the plane tend to be the quietest. In addition, the constant, visual presence of the aircraft personnel has a calming effect.
No matter which seat is best for you and your symptoms, it’s best to secure it the night before or via online check-in!
(3) Distraction is the best medicine!
If you have nothing to do and you focus on every noise, every facial expression of the stewardess and every announcement of the pilot, you automatically think yourself into a rage. Why does the stewardess look so serious?? Is it normal that the wings of the airplane wobble so? How fast did I run from here to the emergency exit? Stop your carousel of thoughts and distract yourselves!
Take advantage of the airline’s usually extensive on-board entertainment program, read a book, plan your trip, listen to music, get a good night’s sleep or talk to your seatmate. Whatever distracts you – do it! If you don’t have much time to think, you can’t get caught up in the supposed signs of a catastrophe. Personally, I always use long flights to catch up on a few missed movies or to improve my language skills for the vacations. For me, boredom is the first step to the emerging fear of flying. Have a look at my book tips for globetrotters!
(4) Lucky charms allowed!
As a little girl, my little pink stuffed dog Susi accompanied me on every trip. Susi was my mental support, my lucky charm and my ally when I was scared of a flight or didn’t feel like long car rides.
No, of course I no longer travel around the world with a pink fluffy dog, but I still don’t want to do without a lucky charm. I have a pair of lucky jeans that I wear on every long-haul flight. It has brought me safely to the other side of the world so many times that I feel uncomfortable when it is not there. Do you perhaps also have such a talisman? Whether a family-inherited necklace, a lucky cap, a small guardian angel or a personal memento – a talisman works wonders even for adults!
(5) Alcohol is no solution either?
Believe me, the idea with the "courage to drink" I had also already. Drinking a glass of champagne before the flight or a shot of schnapps at the airport bar puts you in a good mood and increases your anticipation of the trip. The problem: alcohol does not help against fear of flying. In fact, it has the opposite effect, because the effect of stimulant drinks like coffee and alcohol increases depending on the altitude of the flight. And who wants to experience turbulence in a drunken stupor??
Alcohol is not the answer, but a nip won’t hurt&
If you still want to have something with you, I advise homeopathic remedies such as valerian or St. John’s wort. They have a calming effect, but don’t knock you out like a club like prescription drugs do. And even if excessive alcohol consumption is not sensible – a glass of champagne before the start makes you relaxed and happy.
(6) Create an oasis of well-being for yourself!
If you are afraid of flying like I am, you should make your flight as comfortable as possible. This starts with the right choice of clothes, to potential relaxation exercises to small treats. Tight and uncomfortable clothing can cause discomfort, as can a tense neck, too little legroom, cold or hunger.
I try to create my personal oasis of well-being when flying. And I’m not talking business class or even first class now. No, I don’t have money for that. I wear clothes that fit loosely and do not constrict me. I pack thick wool socks and a warm fleece jacket, in case I get cold. I always carry a neck pillow to make myself as comfortable as possible. Hand creams or nasal spray also help so that the dry air doesn’t get to me. I am also well equipped with music and reading material, so I don’t get bored. Of course, I also treat myself to some sweets or snacks that make me happy and satisfied. If the conditions are right, I can relax better and have less fear.
If you do feel anxious during a flight, your heart rate goes up, you become restless and your breathing quickens, then simple but effective breathing and relaxation exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation or autogenic training can help. You can relax your body systematically, for example by tensing your muscles for five to ten seconds and then relaxing them again for 20 seconds. Who falls into gasping for breath, should consciously concentrate on selbigen. Put your hands on your belly, close your eyes and breathe in deeply and consciously through your nose and out through your mouth for twice as long. This is how you bring your breathing back to a normal level.
(7) Stress-free on board!
If you suffer from fear of flying, then you should at least avoid any unnecessary stress in advance. This starts with a relaxed arrival without time pressure and ends with the timely packing of your backpack. If you are stressed immediately before flying, you will also be less relaxed about the flight: the plus rises to maximum level, nerves are on edge, and anticipation is diminished. Plan enough buffer for arrival and baggage drop at the airport. If possible, use an online check-in the night before.
Stress-free on board: Don’t rush before departure!
(8) A problem shared is a problem halved!
People with a fear of flying should create allies for themselves. Talk to your travel companion in advance about your fear of flying, they will surely be happy to be a firm shoulder to lean on and a good distraction during the flight. With a familiar person nearby, many people feel much safer in uncomfortable situations like flying.
If you’re traveling solo, let your seatmate or a flight attendant in on it. Stewards and stewardesses in particular are trained in dealing with patients with fear of flying and will make every effort to make your flight easier.
(9) Eating makes you happy (and brave)!
I know this, fear and discomfort also hits me directly in the stomach. Then I feel sick and nauseous and the desire for food drops to a minimum level. But the fact is, getting on a plane with an empty stomach or even hypoglycemia will only increase the feeling of anxiety in the stomach region. Give your body the illusion of normality by eating food and drinking fluids. So he is busy with the digestion, instead of developing anxiety symptoms. Before the flight, light meals such as a sandwich or salad are suitable. Stay away from spicy, hard-to-digest foods or caffeinated drinks!
(10) Take it easy!
Especially on a long-haul flight of 8 hours+, sitting can be very uncomfortable, no matter how good and ergonomic the seats may be. If you fly long distances, you should always move around to relax your body and loosen up. Stretching exercises and circular movements with the feet can be carried out well at the seat. It is even better if you just stand up and walk through the plane every now and then. This promotes blood circulation in the veins, prevents joint pain and improves general well-being. Did you know that in the service area of the flight attendants at the front of the plane, you are often offered delicious juices or even ice cream as you walk around the plane??
(11) Little helpers!
When flying, your body is exposed to a wide variety of unpleasant and foreign influences that do not contribute to your well-being. This will cause you to tense up, make you feel uncomfortable and awaken the fear of flying in you. Therefore, you should be prepared for all eventualities and have little helpers in your luggage:
- Earplugs and gum will help if you’re struggling with ear pain or numbness from pressure equalization during takeoff and landing.
- Lip balm and hand cream can make your flight more comfortable if you suffer from the dry air in the plane like me.
- Blanket and woolen socks will protect you from the cold on the plane, because thanks to the low outside temperatures and air conditioning, you can really start to shiver.
- Compression stockings and blood thinners should be used by all those who, like me, suffer from thrombophilia and are prone to blood clot formation. Let your family doctor advise you on this in advance.
- Travel pillow (z.B. Neck pillow or inflatable pillow) and sleep mask help to get a cap sleep in flier.
(12) Let a professional do it!
Fear of flying can come in varying degrees of intensity. If you can’t win a pot of gold with the above tips and still panic before or during every flight, you should consider professional help. Various airlines such as Lufthansa or Air Berlin as well as the German center for fear of flying offer various seminars and counseling for people with a fear of flying. If you don’t feel like going to a coaching session, you can also try your luck with a book or DVD about fear of flying.
Be small fear of flying! Not flying is no solution either! Think of all the wonderful places in the world that are denied to you because of your fear of flying. If you have a globetrotter’s heart beating in your chest, then I hope that my 12 tips against fear of flying will be of help to you.
How to deal with your aviophobia? Do you have any other tips against fear of flying?? Write me and let’s explore the world together shivering and trembling!
Images: © Doreen Schollmeier / © Thomas Lefebvre – Unsplash.com
Hello, I am Doreen. Travel blogger, sports freak, peak climber, treetop gazer, and mom to a wonderful baby daughter since 2019. On fernsuchtblog.You’ll find valuable travel tips that aren’t in every guidebook, and ideas for adventures off the beaten path.
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Hello, or you do it like me: you don’t fly at all, become a travel journalist and still get to the whole world by train and ship. By the way, a much nicer way to get to know the world than jetting from airport to airport. Best regards, Michael
indeed a very nice method. With only 30 vacation days per year in my dream job, it is very difficult to reach all desired destinations by ship and train. There you have to overcome your fear of flying, if possible.
Keep on traveling and have great experiences. Find your travel reports on dieweltenbummler.de?
Doreen aka Isolde MaReisen
properly. With 30 days a year it will be tight (although there is also a lot going on: z.B. Transsib to Beijing 9 days, still 10 days stay, 9 days back). But that’s why I turned my once normal white-collar life upside down and became what I am and do today.
In short: Fear of flying has determined my life and that was the best thing that could have happened to me. My motto at that time was: If I don’t have time for longer trips, then I have to take the time.
Yes, on my page you can find everything I have done since my first trip in 2000 until today.
Very exciting! Thanks for the insight& Then I’ll take a stab at your website and devour "15 years of concentrated travel".
Only 12 tips against fear of flying oh no
Hello, a very interesting article about fear of flying. The photo of the fear of flying face I can well understand. I have also suffered from fear of flying for years and have tried everything possible to overcome it. Today I think that everyone who suffers from fear of flying has to work on their fear themselves. In the meantime, there are many options, be it relaxation exercises, mindfulness, information about aircraft technology, or coping techniques that you can learn on your own. It helped me a lot to deal with my fear of flying, to work on it and to do something against it. Those who deal with their fear of flying will also be able to overcome it.
geez, kudos! You wrote this great. Since I am a flight attendant constantly trying to calm frightened guests I have also written a blog post with tips and truths from a stewardess- Hope the link is allowed&
Greetings& always happy landings!
Haha – your facial expression is brilliant& I also have fear of flying! I always close my eyes, take a deep breath in through my nose, hold it for 2 seconds and then let go and exhale from my mouth! I do this several times and always say to myself: Everything will be all right! This helps me totally!
Distraction is also quite important, if you put yourself in fear, then it will only get worse.
If it times in the flier "bumps" then I always imagine, hey in the bus, car etc. it also bumps sometimes – Is everything completely NORMAL.
I landed on your blog through the topic of fear of flying! Have had a look at a few posts though – do you travel all the time? So this project is your job?
ps: Congrats on the baby&
i travel a lot even though fernsuchtblog.de not my main job, but only my passion.
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Hello, I am Doreen. Travel blogger, sports freak, peak climber, treetop gazer and since 2019 mom of a wonderful little daughter. On Fernsuchtblog you’ll find valuable travel tips that you won’t find in every travel guide, and ideas for adventures off the beaten track.