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How I Cope with a Fear of Flying

So this is probably a real oxymoron for a travel blogger, but I have a fear of flying. Not extreme in that I need meds, but enough that I’ve considered the meds! I don’t have a real reason for my fear of flying. I guess it’s based under the idea that it’s not logical for a metal tube full of moving people & things to fly 30,000 feet in the air across oceans. Now I’m freaking myself out just typing that!

So, since I’m writing this before getting on a 16 hour flight to Africa, I wanted to share how I cope with my fear of flying. Perhaps it’ll help you too!

How to Cope with a Fear of Flying - #travel

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Logic: Air travel is the safest mode of transportation and becoming safer. If I wanted to have a fear, it should be of driving or running along a street. A NY Times article quoted an MIT professor who studied air travel and he determined that, “flying has become so reliable that a traveler could fly every day for an average of 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash.”  Well, okay.

More Logic: My father-in-law spent 600 hours in the air last year. That’s a lot of time spent in an airplane. And things have been all good for him on all those flights. And he’s been traveling like that for many years before last year.

Stress Management: While in the air, I find it helpful to have some stress coping techniques. Imagining calming events or places can help. Also, doing a body relax where you think of relaxing certain parts of your body and work your way up/down/out. For example, deep breath, relax your fingertips, now hands, now arms…. You get the idea.

Stay Busy: I always try to pack some books and magazines that can help distract me from focusing on the flight. If you’re a reader like me, you know how getting hooked into a well-written story can make the world fade away. This trip I’ll be working on some fun blogging things, too.

Prayer: This is actually a huge one for me personally. I pray the days/night before the trip, I pray on my way to the airport, I pray on the plane before takeoff, and I pray during the flight (especially if we hit bumps), and I pray when I reach my destination. For me, putting my faith in God brings me comfort.

Sleep: I am not a napper, so this is a hard one for me. However, as one leg of my trip leaves early in the morning, and one leg is 16 hours long, I think sleeping my cares away will be a great option for dealing with my fear of flying. This is where those meds some people take come in, they help you relax enough that you can fall asleep. Or just relax so you’re not worrying.

Anyone else have a fear of flying? What are some of your coping techniques?

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Cameron E

Friday 8th of January 2016

I'm so glad I stumbled upon your site. I leave for South Africa in about a month and am dreading this 16 hour flight. I used to love flying until a flight I took a couple of years ago had bad turbulence. I wish I could shake the fear but any time that plane shakes it comes crashing back! I've considered anti-anxiety meds for my upcoming flight, but have also just considered NyQuil (figuring if I could get a solid 6 or 7 hours of sleep on the flight, I might be able to deal with the remaining 9ish hours. And of course I pray. I love that you included that in your calming techniques. I loved hearing I wasn't alone in this fear! Hope you enjoyed your travels


Saturday 9th of January 2016

I definitely enjoyed my trip! And, you might look into over the counter sleeping pills (benadryl) instead of the nyquil if you want to sleep on the flight. I have a fried who has had luck with that. :)


Saturday 27th of December 2014

I will be flying to Johannasburg with my 7 year old daughter, my husband and my parents at the end of the month and I am having quite a few anxiety attacks about it. I am on an anti-anxiety med and also take Xanax when I fly but what gets me the MOST is the weeks leading up to the flight. I try to just pray and pray but when I see so many articles about planes going missing or whatever they do, it terrifies me!! I am so glad that I came across your post because it's exactly what I am dealing with...even the same Atlanta to Joburg flight!! I try my absolute hardest to not let my anxiety show because I don't ever want my daughter to be afraid!! Hope you have/had fun! Thanks!


Saturday 27th of December 2014

Hi Kim! I'm so glad you commented! I had a wonderful trip, and safe and smooth flights. My father-in-law spent most of last year flying that route of Atlanta to Jo'berg about every month and he's flown many more trips than that in his lifetime. It's good that you're aware of how your reactions can influence your daughter and I too try to make sure my kids don't pick up on my fear. They've been flying since they were babies and now love going on airplanes. I know it's so easy to worry because flying seems like such an unnatural thing, but there are thousands of flights every day! It's a very safe form of transportation, outranking driving and even walking I think! :) I'll pray for you too and I hope that you can find some peace leading up to your trip. Africa is an amazing place and I'm sure you're going to have a wonderful trip. Make sure you try and focus on all the great things to look forward to and just ignore the thought of the upcoming flight as much as possible! Wishing you the best and I'd love to hear about your trip after you return home.


Monday 10th of February 2014

Great tips -- my husband has a horrible fear of flying. He usually takes a dramamine, I am going to have to show him your list! :) Thanks.


Wednesday 12th of February 2014

Hope it can help him a bit Laura!

Lauren F

Monday 10th of February 2014

These are great tips. I have so much trouble flying and I get a panic attack every time. The flights with TVs are super helpful to keep me is my 4 year old. Safe travels!


Wednesday 12th of February 2014

All my flights were great Lauren. The return trip I really took advantage of those little tvs & free movies - watched 4 movies! :)

Kimberly H. Smith

Monday 10th of February 2014

I have used all of these mechanisms for dealing with my fear of flying. I should use logic way more though. LOL. I do a lot of praying and reading. One time I was so tired that I fell asleep while on the tarmac and woke up mid-flight. That's something I wish I could do more of too. Thank for sharing, Kimberly. #SITSBlogging


Wednesday 12th of February 2014

I always wish I could sleep more on flights! That would sure be a great way to have the time go by. Thanks for stopping by Kimberly!