How I Overcome My Fear of Flying in Order to Travel the World
People are often surprised when I tell them I have a fear of flying. As someone who flies quite regularly, and often alone, people expect me to be fearless when it comes to the many aspects of travelling.
However, no matter how often I fly, I’m nervous every single time.
What gets me on the plane is the overwhelming desire to travel – this ultimately outweighs any anxiety or fear of flying I feel. I still don’t find flying an enjoyable experience but over the years, I have come up with several coping mechanisms in order to continue doing what I love most; travelling.
Here are some of the techniques I use to overcome my flight anxiety:
Flying is statistically the safest mode of transport; this fact is something that I remind myself of whenever I get nervous.
You wouldn’t think twice about getting in a car, but it is a significantly more high risk than flying. I can understand not wanting to know anything about previous air disasters, but I’ve found that learning about what went wrong in the past, measures that are in place to avoid these things happening again and even the basic workings of a plane, all help me to feel better about flying in general.
Let someone know
There’s no need to suffer in silence when it comes to your fear of flying, someone people don’t have any issues with flying at all and therefore may not be aware that you’re suffering.
If, like me, you’re not a fan of take-off, let whoever you’re travelling with know. This way they can chat to you and keep you distracted until you’ve calmed down. Once a friend of mine and I chatted for the entirety of a 1.5-hour flight from Copenhagen. We were just talking rubbish by the end of it and we were possibly annoying the people behind us, but as long as you’re not being loud and obnoxious, do what you need to do to get through it.
Knowing what sets off your anxiety and fear of flying will help you to manage it.
Often the anticipation of fear feels worse than the fear itself. If you hate turbulence, acknowledge this beforehand and prepare yourself, you’ll be surprised how calm you feel when it’s happening. As above, if you do a bit of reading up on how much turbulence a plane can withstand, you will realise that a tiny bit of turbulence is perfectly normal.
Something that has always comforted me was a story my Uncle once told me about turbulence on one of his flights – it was so bad that the drinks trolley hit the ceiling! Knowing that turbulence can get to that level and everything still be fine has helped reassure me ever since.
Visualise the destination
The reason you’re putting yourself through this anxiety is ultimately the reward at the end – the destination.
Remind yourself of how you will feel when you step off the plane in a new place, or somewhere you’ve been before and love. Think about all the things you’re planning to do whilst you’re there. For me, whilst I still find flying nerve-wracking, I know I will continue to do it because otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to travel as much as I do and travel is the thing I love most.
If I’d let my fears hold me back, I wouldn’t have been to half the places I have and I wouldn’t have anywhere near the number of experiences I do.
Overcoming a major anxiety is no small feat. No matte r how silly it may seem to someone else, there is nothing wrong with patting yourself on the back for getting on the plane. If you think of each flight you board as a step towards conquering your fear, it will make each one feel like an achievement. Plus, if you want to treat yourself to something once you arrive - do it! A glass of prosecco, a new perfume, a burger? Whatever you want. Remind yourself that you have overcome a big hurdle, even if it doesn’t appear that way to someone else.
Ultimately, if you have a fear of flying don’t feel bad about it, it’s very common. Thousands of people go on cultural exchange programmes to summer camp every year and a strong percentage have worries when it comes to flying. It's totally normal and if you're going through an agency such as Camp Leaders, Camp Canada or Adventure China, don't be afraid of speaking to the team, who will know exactly how you're feeling and will reassure you ahead of your big trip.
But there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored! Don’t let it pass you by, get on the plane.
About the author
Lucy Jones is a travel writer whose passions include solo female travel, affordable travel and New York City. Follow her travels via her Instagram @lucyelizabethfaith