Tips for Nervous Flyers

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Here’s irony for you: my favorite thing is travelling, but my biggest fear is flying.  I envy those that pass out before the plane ever leaves the ground. I am not one of those gifted magical creatures. I’m more than just nervous – I’m anxious, jittery and fearful.  But after all these years I’ve finally developed a strategy that calms my nerves, and although I’m still scared as hell to get on planes, I overcome it and at some point relax on flights. If you’re anything like me, maybe you can benefit from some of these tips.





Curbing nervous flying starts at home before you even head to the airport, from packing properly to anticipating your needs during flights.  The key is to minimize stress.  Don’t skip this section, it might make a world of difference!

  • Don’t overpack.  In fact, if you can travel without checking a bag, I highly recommend it!  Think about it: you’re eliminating one irritating line from the process (two if you count picking up your bag at your destination).
  • Wear comfortable clothing.  Note that I did not say yoga pants…but if that’s what makes you happy, then you go Glen Coco.  Wear something dress casual that you feel good in.  I usually fly in a fit and flare dress with pockets.  Because pockets are magical!
  • Allow plenty of time to pack and get to the airport.  I live in Houston and traffic here is every-day normal.  If a bug farts within a 10 mile radius of one of our freeways, it’s over, pile-ups everywhere.
  • Limit caffeine consumption.  Because it makes you jittery, duh.  In fact, hydrate.
  • Eat something.  This may seem intuitive, but people get “hangry” for a reason.
  • Take medication if you need to.  Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor that you’re afraid of flying.  I take something mild yet effective, and only when I fly.  It doesn’t make me stupid or anything, it just chills me a bit.  Take Dramamine if you’ve EVER gotten sick on a boat or flight.  I threw up flying into London last year, so every single time I fly now, I take Dramamine whether I think I need it or not.  I also suggest taking Gas-X.  Because pressure.





Remember when you were a kid and your parents packed games or movies for long drives?  This is the same thing, just on a more grown-up level.

  • Tablet loaded with your favorite movie/show/book.  What makes you happy?  What do you read or watch over and over?  Bring that.  For me, it’s Pitch Perfect.  I watch that movie every single time I fly.  Sometimes the whole movie (or movies), sometimes just certain parts.  It makes me happy and distracts me from you know…being in an airplane.
  • Adult coloring book.  And colored pencils, of course.  Why didn’t I think of this sooner?  Combining this with Pitch Perfect keeps my mind and my hands busy.
  • Noise canceling headphones.  Not just noise reducing, but noise canceling.  Eliminating all that engine/wind sound goes a long way!  I found mine on Amazon (Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B SVIS Noise-Cancelling Headphones).
  • Smartwater.  Hydrate, remember?  I buy this water simply for the bottle design.  It fits perfectly in the side pockets of my carry-on backpacks and doesn’t make that annoying crinkle noise every time I touch it.  Also, please don’t depend on the flight attendants to serve you water in those tiny cups every half hour.  That’s actually not their primary responsibility.






  • Sit in an aisle seat.  Seriously.  I don’t need to stare at clouds or compulsively open and shut the window cover like Annie (Kristen Wiig) from Bridesmaids.  What I need is to have the freedom to go to the bathroom without having to straddle two strangers on my way out of the row.
  • Order your wine/beer/liquor two at a time.  You don’t have to drink it all, but it sure is nice to have it if you want or need it (and to not bother the flight attendants).
  • Watch something and color something.  I strongly suggest (from experience) not choosing anything overly dramatic or scary.  Because you’re trying to stay calm, remember?  See above.  It’ll make you feel better.
  • Drink green tea towards the end of the flight (or after the flight).  This will help drop flight bloat and the warm liquid will feel very nice.




Happy travelling!


1 Comment

  1. Mike says:

    Good tips! The tablet with movies/ shows works wonders for distraction… And it makes time go by.

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