Wednesday 29 November 2017

Flying with Anxiety: Four tips to prevent your phobia from disrupting your travel

Laura shares her tips on easing anxieties associated with flying, so that you can enjoy your travels.

- Laura Williamson

Flying is a common phobia, with 1 in 10 people in the UK experiencing it to some extent. For some, it can be the flight that causes the overwhelming majority of anxiety regarding the trip, even if they have a huge travel adventure organised. For others, flying is so scary that it stops them from travelling abroad entirely. So, as someone who loves travelling as much as fearing flying, here are some of my tips on how to make it (a little) easier:

1) Book the seat you want 

It’s worth making sure, if you can, that you have booked a plane seat that will cause least anxiety. For example, if turbulence has you white knuckling it the whole way, the seats in the middle of the plane, over the wings, usually experience the least turbulence and with back experiences the most. Some people prefer to be sat by the window where they can see where they’re going, but to others that’s a nightmare situation. It can be pricey but also invaluable if it’ll definitely put you at ease. Sometimes, if you tell the flight crew, they can move you if it’s possible.

2) Let the flight crew know 

This may seem embarrassing but, if you’re flying alone, letting plane staff know you’re anxious is worth it. They’re literally paid to keep you safe and happy, so a quick chat as you’re getting on the plane is no bother to them. Usually, they’ll make sure to keep an eye on you; it’s surprising how much a quick chat or “hey, how are you doing?” from someone who flies for a living can help alleviate your anxiety, especially if you have no one else to talk to.

Image Description: Plane flying off into the sunset

3) Understand why things happen the way they do 

Ever been sat on a plane and a weird noise or vibration has put you in a cold sweat? Planes are supposed to make weird noises, and pilots expect minor turbulence and these things can’t bring down a plane. Very few injuries are caused by turbulence, and generally only to flight crew who aren’t wearing seatbelts. Doing research before the flight may help you to understand why things happen the way they do, so there’s no panic about losing the ‘left phalange’.

4) Prepare in advance 

Sometimes the airport can cause more stress than the flight itself. Preparing well in advance can be the best way to alleviate this anxiety; you don’t want to be flustered that you have the wrong visa when you’re already stressed about the flight. The Foreign Office offers information and checklists of essential documents needed for every country. Once you’ve made sure you have your passport, the correct visa, and know what you can and can’t bring into the country, and then you can focus on chilling out for the flight. 

You can follow the FCO on Facebook and Twitter @FCOtravel and on Instagram under @ukforeignoffice for further information and travel safety advice.

Hey, I'm Laura and I'm a history student at the University of Edinburgh. I'm writing for Student Minds to contribute to the conversation surrounding mental health.

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