15 Best Travel Tips for People Petrified of Flying

Someone recently took to Reddit concerned about their fear of flying and asked, “If you travel a lot on planes, what stops you from being petrified?” They confessed that they wanted to travel and see the world but couldn’t get past the idea of getting on an airplane. Here are the top-voted tips.

1. Consider These Two Things

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One flyer confessed, “It helps me to think two things. Number one, you’re far more likely to die in a car crash on the way to the airport. Number two, if the plane crashes, there is nothing you can do about it anyway. So there’s no sense stressing about it.”

Another added, “Correct. Once you arrive at the airport, you have completed the most dangerous part of the trip, driving.”

2. A Crew Checks Every Function for Every Flight

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Another noted, “A crew checks every function of that plane before every flight. No one does this to your car before every drive. If something goes wrong, they have miles to correct it and no other planes around to crash into, unlike the road.”

3. The Pilot Boarded the Plane

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“The pilot wouldn’t get on the plane if he thought it was going to crash,” one confessed. “I tell myself every time I board. It’s alright once you get on there. Taking off and landing can be bumpy, but the airport is the real pain.”

A second user admitted, “Yeah, that’s my go-to as well… knowing that the pilot, co-pilot, and the rest of the crew are putting themselves at as much risk as their passengers.”

4. A Pilot Responded

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“Hey, I’m a pilot. I can safely tell you the procedures put in place for aviation travel are unlike any other method of transportation currently used. We spend hours doing pre-flight checks to ensure everything is in order. If something isn’t, the flight is either aborted. Or if it doesn’t jeopardize the safety with permission, it can be ok.

Unlike driving your car around with people tailgating you, others speeding past, not signaling, etc., when flying, we have controls for equipment, environment, and us.

Airline flights are monitored and partially controlled by air traffic control, assuring no one will get too close or go off course, etc. Pilots know every in and out of their plane and their team.

We understand our equipment to ensure safe flight and undergo rigorous testing and training to overcome emergency events in unlikely events. I hope this helps.”

5. Exposure Therapy

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One traveler shared, “I used to be highly nervous, fearing I’d have panic attacks. So I would take Xanax with me. Then I took a trip that required me to take off seven times in total, and I was then cured of my fear. Exposure therapy helps—a LOT.” Others agreed the more exposure, the easier it becomes.

6. Pay Attention to the Passengers and Flight Crew

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“Look at the flight attendants’ and passengers’ faces and body language. You’ll see that everyone is calm and relaxed, and it will help,” one suggested. Several others agreed that the flight crew’s energy helps them relax.

7. A Flight Attendant Reassured

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“I’m a flight attendant,” admitted another. “We’re well-trained to handle various situations and catch things before they become a problem. Safety is number one, so don’t be afraid. Fun facts – airplanes can run and function perfectly fine on one engine.

No amount of turbulence will cause a plane to break. Planes are built and rated way above what nature can produce (sorry, movies). That said, our captains avoid turbulence and can see it on the radar. They work together and communicate where turbulence is.

Lighting? Not a big deal. Once again, sorry, movies. Unless it eats a lighting strike sent by Zeus, nothing will happen except for cool special effects, maybe a flicker, and some people gasping.

We can evacuate an entire plane quicker than you cook a hot pocket or a cup of ramen. And, of course, if you’re nervous, tell the first flight attendant you see that it’s your first flight and you’re a bit nervous. They will take care of you.”

8. Know What To Expect

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“Knowing what to expect helps me.

  1. While you’re flying, the clunking noise from down below is the landing gear either retracting (right after take-off) or coming out (just before landing).
  2. Shortly after you become airborne, you may feel the sensation that the plane is slowing down. That’s normal, and there’s no risk of the aircraft losing lift.
  3. Flying through clouds can get bumpy, but things typically get nice and smooth once you fly above them. Bumps are no big deal, though.
  4. Have fun with the journey. Sit at a window seat and try to identify the cities that you’re flying over. I sometimes snap a pic and then compare it to a map afterward to see if I was right.
  5. I usually drink a cocktail and watch a downloaded Netflix show with earbuds. Don’t get hammered, though. I limit myself to one, depending on the length of the flight. If it’s an overseas flight, I’ll have another.

Plane travel is incredible. Just give it a shot and see the world.” 

9. Giant Glider

Chicago, USA - March 27, 2018: Frontier Airlines Airbus A320 with the Jaguar livery approaching O'Hare International Airport.
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“Another aspect is, say, if the engines cut out on a plane, the plane is still just a giant glider. And you can land gliders safely. You’re not going to drop like a stone out of the sky suddenly if they turn off. Pilots are audited annually to ensure their training is still up to date. So there are systems and layers in place to protect you,” another reassured.

10. Think of the Ocean

Ocean City, MD USA - October 6, 2018: Tourists walk along the southern tip of Ocean City Beach on the Atlantic Ocean in late afternoon on a sunny autumn day
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Finally, a traveler confessed, “Whenever we hit turbulence, I think that air is nothing more than fluid, so turbulence is nothing more than waves on the ocean. Some waves are bigger than others, and currents in the ocean push or pull like the air, but boats don’t regularly sink, and neither do planes regularly crash.”

11. Distract Yourself

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If you’re thinking of something other than your fear of flying – and all your flying-related fears – you won’t have time to think about how scared you are! Sure, it’s easier said than done, and different people prefer different methods when it comes to distracting yourself, but it can be a great way to stop your mind from racing.

A few great ways to distract yourself include listening to a podcast (preferably one that makes you think), reading a book, or writing a list of some sort.

12. Learn How to Breathe Through the Panic

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For some people, a fear of flying isn’t just about being a little bit scared, it can actually be a full-on panic attack, and that can be very difficult to deal with. But, in the most simple terms, dealing with a panic attack immediately can be as simple as just regulating your breathing. Even if you’re not having a full-blown panic attack, slowing down your breathing can help you calm down and relax, and it can even be a bit distracting.

So, do some research on some breathing techniques that you can use to calm yourself down if you start feeling super anxious or your fears and thoughts start running away from you!

13. Make Sure You’re Extra Prepared to Travel

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If you’re a nervous flyer, being anxious and stressed out can make things ten times worse. One of the best ways you can help yourself and minimize the stress and fear at the moment is to be as prepared as possible to travel.

That is, don’t leave your packing to the last minute, make sure you have everything you need (especially those things that make you feel more comfortable), and make sure you get to the airport early.

If you do these things, you’re likely to be less stressed and it’ll be easy to relax when the flying fear kicks in.

14. Learn About the Noises that Planes Make

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One thing that freaks out a lot of nervous flyers is loud noises, especially noises that they feel like they can’t identify and seem to be odd. But, let’s be honest unless you’re an expert, you probably won’t really know what any of those noises are – let alone which ones are actually worth being concerned about!

One of the best things you can do is research. If noises worry you, do a bit of reading into the noises that planes make while flying – especially the ones that are common. At the same time, learn a bit about turbulence and why it happens (and how it’s almost always harmless). If you’re equipped with knowledge and understanding, you’ll feel more confident while flying.

15. Stay Away From Fear Mongering Stories

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These days, there are plenty of movies, books, series, and just ordinary stories about horrifying aviation incidents. If you’re not somebody who has an issue with flying, these things are entertaining, in a weird way. But, if you’re a nervous flyer, stay away from these things!

Memories of them will be the first thing to pop into your head when you’re sitting on a plane, and these stories often justify your fears – well, that’s what our fear logic tells us.

Watching these movies and things can also create fear where there was none before, or it can heighten a fairly normal amount of fear to the point where it becomes too much to handle. So, our advice is to stay away from these things!

Many also suggested reading up about airplanes and their safety compared to everything else in your life.

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