5 Tips to Reduce Anxiety for Plane Trips
Anyone else hate flying?! It’s hands down the worst part of travel. Give me a train any day.
Being on an airplane requires a total relinquishing of control to the pilot and the crew – along with a fight with gravity and the risk of turbulence. I know lots of people who love flying – they like take offs and landings, they like turbulence, and they manage to always feel well when they get off the plane. Well, good for them.
That being said, I LOVE to travel, and living in Canada, flying is a huge part of traveling. In the last six months, I’ve visited three Canadian cities, necessitating well over 36 hours of total flying time and time spent in airports. In Europe, at least two of those trips would probably have been taken by train. Alas, here we are.
Traveling by plane is for me a necessary evil. But if you, like me, suffer from some form of flying anxiety – be it fear of flying, or just a discomfort with the whole airport/small spaces/too many people situation – here are 5 tips to reduce anxiety for plane trips.
Anxiety Tip #1: Make a Good Plan
Flying has become so much less dignified and more stressful recently. Even for a domestic flight, we arrived two hours early to the airport, not knowing what the situation would be at security when we got there. Luckily, it was no big deal- which just left lots of time to stress out at the gate 🤦🏼♀️
To avoid the stress of being there too early- and the panic of being late – plan out the day before how much time you need to get your flight, and when to leave the house. (I frequently mix up the boarding time and the departing time cause I’m occasionally a little out of it!). Usually for a domestic flight, if I’m not checking luggage, I would aim for 60 minutes in advance of the boarding time (11am for a 12 noon boarding time) but recently with long lines at security, 90 minutes ahead of schedule felt a bit safer and calmer. Do what suits your personality best.
Anxiety Tip #2: Pack snacks and a water bottle
I hate the stress of waiting in line for airport food and overpaying once you get there. The line up at the coffee shop this time around was nearly half an hour. I know what foods I find comforting so just pack those in advance! Don’t forget to bring an empty water bottle, and fill it up when you get past security. If you find money to be a stressful part of travel, knowing that you aren’t going to spend at all in the airport can be really useful. Need some ideas for travel snacks? Here are 5 finger foods that travel well.
Anxiety Tip #3: Don’t forget your meds!
Lots of people take a regular anti-anxiety medication, or a per use medication. This seems obvious but don’t forget to travel with those medications, especially when flying! If you need them, you’ll want them to be close at hand, in the bag that sits at your feet (not trapped in the overhead compartment so that you can’t reach them when you really need them!). If you know something else works for you (I know lots of people who take Gravol each time they fly) don’t suffer through without and try to be a hero. Stick with a system that works.
Anxiety Tip #4: Pack and Wrap Carefully
I got back from a trip to Ottawa last week, and on the way through security I successfully dumped my whole container of leftover noodles in sesame oil all over my nice new clothes *facepalm*. This was not helpful for keeping stress levels controlled! To avoid this and other messes, pack nicer clothes and things that are hard to wash in plastic bags within your bag or suitcase. If you can, bring a plastic tupperware container for leftovers, and a tumbler for coffee. Getting onto the airplane with two carry on bags, my leftovers, and my takeaway coffee cup is a recipe for disaster; once I have everything wrapped up, the whole process goes more smoothly – and I don’t end up with piles of laundry to do either.
Anxiety Tip #5: Travel Carry On Only!
This is by far the biggest anti-anxiety trick. The news has been full recently of horror stories of people losing their luggage for days or weeks at a time. Someone I follow on Instagram recently got their suitcase back after 3 months! For this trip to Ottawa, I managed with only a backpack and my purse and it was so much easier than when I usually do it with a rolling carry on suitcase. Highly recommend.
If you don’t feel like you can manage with purely carry on, make sure to pack enough in your carry on baggage that you can go several days without your checked luggage. And if you are checking bags through, arrive even earlier at the airport so you have time to get your bags tagged and processed.
How do you help yourself and your family to have a carefree travel day on an airplane?