Conquering travel anxiety is not as easy as a step-by-step process and for the longest time, I relied on sleeping medicine to get through long flights. Although there is no one-size-fits-all process, there are some steps you can take to walk through the mental game that is flying.
Step 1: Invest in Xanax.
One day I will learn not to lead all things with a joke, but until then, let’s agree that that should never be your step one.
Traveling is one of the most beautiful offerings the world gives to us. For me, there’s no better feeling than the anticipation, and excitement that comes with adventuring to new places, meeting new people, and partaking in new experiences around the world.
However, for many of us traveling comes with its fair share of anxieties, fears, and worries.
I love traveling, always have and always will. But as someone who overthinks her choice of breakfast, flying can be an excruciating activity for me.
Without fail, the second the plane starts moving, the first thing I think is: “That doesn’t sound normal.”
It could literally be as simple as the AC turning on, and I find my mind wandering to places where I think it’s poison coming through the vents.
It’s downright ridiculous, but it happens. Over the years, as I have increased my flight time each year, I have learned that letting my mind run wild while flying, or doing anything for that matter, is a dangerous feat.
Practicing mindfulness while preparing to take a flight, and while on the airplane is so important for me, so I figured I would share some of my personal practices.
Tips for conquering travel anxiety:
1. Speak truth to yourself. And then repeat, repeat, repeat.
This might sound a bit ridiculous, but to me, this is the main and first step that comforts in any situation when my mind starts to run wild. When I start to think the plane is making a weird noise, I reiterate to myself that if there was an off noise, the pilot, the crew, or other passengers would notice it. If I start wondering what would happen if we ran out of gas, I remind myself that this literally does not happen. This step is all about repeating the truth, and reminding yourself of the positives.
All too frequently I hear people saying “don’t think about it, just push it out of your mind,” when it comes to irrational fears. To me, that does nothing except squash feelings temporarily. Instead of squashing feelings, speak truth against the false, and frequent irrational fears.
2. Be prepared.
Before your flight remind yourself of all the fun you are going to have on your trip. If it’s not necessarily a fun trip, remind yourself of why you are going and the intentions behind it. Reminding yourself of the purpose, and keeping it front and center will help ease nerves and get you on your way to conquering travel anxiety.
3. Make sure to bring something that will make the time pass quickly.
For me, that’s my notebook and a good romance novel. I hate flying, but reading and writing are my favorites. These two things allow the time to pass quicker and in good fashion. Flights where I have failed to bring my books or notebooks, usually turn disastrous for my nerves due to so much focus on my anxiety, as opposed to focusing on something else.
4. Have fears that can be eliminated by objects? Bring them.
For me, one of my greatest fears with flying (after dying) is picking up a virus in the airport or on the airplane. For that me, that means I bring disinfectant wipes and make sure to clean both my hands and objects I come in contact with.
It might seem extra, but as someone with a compromised immune system, and someone who has picked up viruses for weeks post-flight, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
5. Calming music ft. noise-canceling headphones.
I’m a big fan of music therapy in general, but this activity can help a lot on planes. I have also heard some people say that it stresses them out more than helping them, so everyone is different! I have a playlist called “Lean Back” on Spotify that features some of my favorite Christian worship artists that helps my heart slow down immediately. You can check it out here.
6. CBD Oil!
My go-to for just about everything these days. I discovered CBD a year ago and started using it religiously this past fall. At first, I used it for muscle tension, but then quickly realized it was helping with anxiety as well, and started using it for that too. I bring single-serve containers on my flights, but you can also buy it in bottle form!
I use this CBD oil among many others.
To someone who doesn’t deal with airplane travel anxiety, this list might seem ridiculous. But to me, this list has saved me hours of a fast-beating heart. There was a time where I would weigh the pro’s and con’s of taking a vacation because of the required flight time, but I am so glad to be over that now.
I still have to focus on these tips when flying, but I am learning how to cope with travel anxiety. You can conquer your fear of flying. I believe that. But as someone who has dealt with it for a while, I still have yet to hit that point in life.
Conquering travel anxiety can be difficult, but I hope that these tips help you help work through it. If you have any others that have helped you, leave them in the comments or send me a DM!
P.S. If you are traveling soon, check out my blog post “Traveling Healthy 101: What To Pack.”