How I Handle Flight Anxiety

I have a lot of irrational fears, one of which is flying. Even though I know planes are way safer than cars (or even walking!) I still get white knuckles on every flight. I know I’m not the only one with flight anxiety. So I’m hoping this post will help some of you deal with YOUR flight anxiety.


1) Get there early – Reduce any additional anxiety by getting to the airport early. If I’m rushing to my gate, then I’m already anxious before I’m even on the plane! Get to the aiport with plenty of time so you’ll have time to sit and relax before boarding.

2) Be prepared – Ok this tactic is a little unconventional, and my boyfriend thinks I’m absolutely crazy for this. But I like to be prepared for emergencies. So when I board the plane, the first thing I do is locate the emergency exit doors. I even touch every seat between the closest door and my seat, just in case the plane were to fill the smoke, I would be able to count the seats to find the door. I also touch the life jacket under my seat, and that makes me feel better too. And I never take any kind of sleeping aid, so I am always fully alert, in case anything happens. All of this stuff, although a little unconventional, helps me calm down.

3) If you get a choice, avoid the small planes – Anyone with flight anxiety can agree that turbulence makes our hearts drop. Well, smaller planes make turbulence feel 100x more extreme. If you have the option, choose a larger plane, and avoid the additional turbulence.

4) Have a good playlist – I got a new phone a few days before my last trip, and totally forgot that I didn’t have any music saved to it yet! I didn’t realize it until I was in my seat, and at that point it was too late. And I never realized how much music calmed me down during take off until I didn’t have it. As soon as we landed, I downloaded all my favorite playlists on Spotify. While some people prefer classical music or something calming, I prefer upbeat, happy music. I will post my flying playlist here! It’s nearly impossible to be anxious listening to this playlist. Just make sure if you’re listening to Spotify, to download the playlist before you board.

5) Deep breaths – As cliché as it sounds, it’s a cliché for a reason. It works! When I feel myself start to get worked up (usually during take-off), I start taking deep breaths. In through my nose, out through my mouth. But, I always am aware of the people around me. I don’t want to freak anyone else out, so I try to stay tactful and discreet even if I’m panicking a little on the inside.

6) Close the shades – I don’t know about you, but it especially freaks me out when the plane is tilting and all the sudden I’m very aware that the plane is almost sideways. Not only does it make me anxious, it makes me a bit motion sick. Closing the shades helps me forget that I’m 39,000 feet in the air, sometimes sideways.

7) Picture the plane landing – Whenever there is turbulence, I close my eyes, and I picture that we’re inches off the ground, and the plane is just straightening out to land. This is much easier to do when the shades are closed! It’s easier to think about a shaky plane inches off the ground, than a shaky plane thousands of miles off the ground. I’ve never been one for “visualization”, but this is one situation that I am an advocate.

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Please NEVER let your flight anxiety get in the way of your travels. There is so much of the world to see, and so much of it is only accessible by plane. Next flight you take, try some of these techniques, let me know how it works out for you! Happy flying!

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28 Comments

  1. I’ve been on many planes throughout my life, but my flight anxiety is fairly new (within the past two years). I feel like getting older has made me more anxious in general, lol! I really like the idea of counting the rows between your seat and the emergency exit, I may have to try this next month!

    • omg SAME! I grew up flying a ton, and my flight anxiety just started about two years ago. Weird how that happens. Thank you for reading!

  2. Love this! I’d never had issues with turbulence until I took my first small plane ride and it was just like nopenopenope. My mom always told me to look at the flight attendants, if they’re freaking out, you should too.

    • Thank you! I had never rode a small plane until two-ish years ago, and now I try to avoid them at all costs! lol. The flight attendant tip is a great point too. Thanks for reading!

  3. Traveling over 30 years in my life I think I mastered it, I can see the difference traveling with friends who don’t frequently travel, they struggle in a lot of things

    • It’s so funny, I grew up flying a lot, and I didn’t develop flight anxiety until a couple years ago. I hope these tips can help some of your friends!

  4. OMG! Travelling is crazy. This is an awesome list of tips. I find myself doing all of these tips except for the last two. For some reason, I love looking out of the window, because it calms me. And I love the rush I get from the landing. Lol.

    • I can only look out the window once we’re steady and way above the clouds. But when we’re taking off or landing? nononono. It freaks me out so badly when the plane tilts hahaha.

  5. Since I live in Des Moines, Iowa, avoiding small planes is pretty much impossible. But I’ve found that getting to the airport early and planning ahead have been huge in managing my flight anxiety. Lots of deep breaths and some good music (or a distracting audio book) are a must. Great post!

    • Ooo that’s rough! Tiny planes are my nemesis lol. An audio book would be a good alternative to a playlist – I’ll have to try that on my next flight! Thank you for reading!

  6. These are all great tips! I’m terrified of heights so even though I’ve flown loads I always get nervous while taking off and landing. For some reason I’m okay once we reach the maximum height and even out!

  7. I worked for an airline for a quite a while and people would tell us all the time that they had issues. Sometimes notifying the flight attendant that’s in your section can be a relief because they man be able to calm you when you get worked up. I hope you don’t let this get in the way of exploring the world.

    • I never thought of letting a flight attendant know, but that’s a good idea! And don’t worry – I definitely will not let this get in the way of my travels 🙂

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