I love to travel and I hate to fly—ah, the proverbial catch-22. As a child, I would squeeze my father’s hand every time the plane hit an air pocket or the wings moved—to this day he still complains that I successfully dislocated every bone in his hand. When I became older, I replaced my dad’s hands with overpriced glasses of wine from the airport bar. So, not only would I wind up at my destination with a pounding headache, but I’d also be about 20 dollars poorer.
Photo: Ana Santos
What’s an anxious traveler to do? There are no quick fixes to quieting travel anxiety, but there are tricks and tips you can adopt to make your journey less frightening. Here are my five favorites:
1. Get a good night of sleep. You may think that pulling an all-nighter before your flight will ensure that you’ll spend your flight in dreamland, however, exhaustion amplifies emotions. If you’re an anxious and tired flier, you’re flight will be even less pleasant. I also suggest limiting your caffeine intake prior to getting on the flight.
2. Crossword puzzles or other games that require quiet attention. If you’re busy trying to figure out what twenty-three across is then your mind will have less room for distracting you with your fear of flying.
3. Visualization. When I’m on a plane and feeling anxious, I tend to think of about my destination, imagine myself relaxing there and play out positive scenarios in my head. It sounds kind of cheesy, but it does have a calming effect on the mind.
4. Pass on the alcohol. You might think that a few spirits will help you relax and enjoy the flight, and it might at first. But a lot of anxious fliers are anxious because they feel that they don’t have any control. A few drinks will amplify this feeling.
5. Education. Learn about airplanes and how they work. If certain noises scare you, feel free to ask the flight attendants what they are. Believe me, they deal with anxious fliers all the time. Although it is not often talked about, the fear of flying is a lot more common than you think.