Calling all nervous flyers – we have some good news. We’re not going to try to convince you that flying isn’t scary. We know it’s not remotely helpful to say “there’s nothing to worry about” or “flying is the safest mode of transport”. If you’re a nervous flyer, you probably know all that – and you’re still nervous. We’re not going to try and change your mind.
What we are going to do, though, is offer you some useful tips. We’ve come up with eight simple hacks that might just make you feel a tiny bit better about the whole getting-on-a-plane thing. With some preparation, your flight will hopefully seem a little less scary – and you can focus on the holiday that’s waiting at the end of it.
- Be organised
If you’re nervous about flying, the last thing you want to do is arrive late at the airport, as this will only increase your anxiety. Allow plenty of time – including some wriggle room for traffic or train delays – to avoid getting in a fluster. Then, once you’ve gone through security, you can distract yourself with some retail therapy, or find a spot to get in the zone before your flight. You could even book access to an airport lounge, as these tend to be much quieter than the main seating areas.
- Avoid alcohol
For nervous flyers, it might be very tempting to have a glass or two in the airport to take the edge off – but it’s best not to. Drinking alcohol may initially make you feel calmer but, once you’re on the plane, you’re likely to feel worse. Caffeine is another no-no, as it can make you feel jittery and increasingly anxious. Instead, drink plenty of water. Fancy some food? Before you order, read up on the foods you should and shouldn’t eat before flying.
- Speak to your cabin crew
When you board the plane, tell the crew that you don’t like flying. They’ll be very experienced with nervous flyers and will be happy to talk to you about it, or answer any questions you might have. It’s always best to let them know how you’re feeling from the start. That way, if there’s any turbulence, for example, they’ll often come round and talk to you, to explain what’s happening and why you’ve no need to worry. Remember – they fly every day, so they do know what they’re talking about.
- Take your own headphones
While a lot of airlines provide headphones, especially on long-haul flights, it’s a good idea to take your own – just in case. Try making a calming playlist before your flight, so you can zone out and tune in whenever you like.
- Practise breathing exercises
It might sound clichéd, but breathing exercises are a massive help. Breathing slowly and deeply slows down your heart rate, which makes your body feel less tense. There are plenty of apps out there to give you a helping hand, or you could simply breathe in for five seconds and breathe out for five seconds. Try doing this for at least three minutes – your mind and body will feel much more relaxed.
- Drink chamomile tea
As we mentioned, drinking coffee or alcohol will only heighten your anxiety. But chamomile tea actually has the opposite effect. It’s naturally low in caffeine, and the bioactive ingredients within the chamomile flowers will help you feel calmer. Pack a couple of teabags in your hand luggage, just in case your airline doesn’t have any.
- Check the facts
It’s very easy to focus on the negatives of flying. But looking into the facts could help you feel a bit more positive. Why not read about how long it takes to become a pilot? Or how many regulations and checks are in place, to keep your plane in tip-top condition? If your fear mainly revolves around taking off or landing, it’s also a good idea to do some research on what noises normally occur and why, so you know what to expect.
- Pack plenty of distractions
Fill your carry-on bag with lots of fun things to do throughout your flight. We’d recommend packing a book and a magazine, along with some sort of puzzle like a crossword or Sudoku. Or why not take a language guide, and learn some key phrases to use in your destination? If you’re flying long haul, you’ll also have a range of in-flight films and TV programmes to choose from. The flight will soon pass, and you’ll have landed safely in no time.