For many travellers it is not the strange food, language barrier, or cultural differences that are the most daunting when embarking on a new adventure, it is the flight that it takes to get there. Having traveled with a few extremely nervous fliers (a friend of mine spent our 10 hour flight grabbing my arm every time the plane hit turbulence), I understand that this is a legitimate fear that sadly, prevents many from taking the trips that they long too.
If you are scared to fly (or know someone who is), there should be something on this list that can help you out!
1. Get Comfortable — The more comfortable you are, the more relaxed you will be. Most airlines don’t supply blankets and pillows anymore, so bring your own – inflatable neck pillows are the easiest to pack – and make sure to bring some socks to keep your toes warm as well.
2. Stay Distracted — Bring entertaining books and magazines on board (trashy ones are the best). Music is also a great distraction so pack your iPod (also helpful if the in-flight entertainment system stops working). If you have ear-bud headphones you will be able to keep them on during take-off and landing, headphones that cover your ears will have to be removed.
3. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol — Both of these beverages run the risk of making you depressed, jumpy, and irrational. They will also force you to use the ‘facilities’ more often which will make your flight (and the flight for the person sitting next to you) very uncomfortable.
4. Pack Gum, Water (bottle) and Snacks — I know that I get incredibly irritated when hungry, and many flights no longer serve food or charge astronomical prices for it so, make sure you bring some snacks. Flights also tend to be very dry, so having water (you can purchase a bottle in the airport once you pass through security) with you will help avoid the ‘dry mouth’ that can come with nerves. Gum will help you pop your ears, preventing pressure build up, as the cabin equalizes.
5. Drugs, Drugs, Drugs… — Doctors will prescribe medication to help you sleep if you are a REALLY nervous flyer, but Gravol and even Motrin can often help you sleep or relax.
6. Keep Your Eye on the Flight Attendants — There are some mechanical noises, chimes, and bouts of turbulence that may sound or feel scary but are COMPLETELY NORMAL. My trick in moments that make me nervous is to watch and see how the flight attendants are reacting. If they seem calm then I calm down.
7. Tell the Flight Attendants or the Pilots How You Feel — Sometimes the best way to calm your nerves is to admit to someone that you are in fact nervous. Flight Attendants are VERY familiar with nervous flyers and if you tell them how you feel they will usually go out of their way to ensure that you are comfortable.
The last bit of advice that I can give you comes from my sister, a frequent traveller: