So I travel, like a lot. My life has been one airplane ride after another for the past 5 years, with the last year and a half being the climax of it all. My long distance relationship completely altered what my life looked liked, and somehow I’ve become one of those frequent flyers who just know how to travel.
Previous to my relationship, I hadn’t been on a plane since I was 11 years old and I can still remember the anxiety I had about flying. I had no idea if the seats would accommodate me, and the concept of being IN THE AIR scared the literal heck outta me.
Not to jinx myself (I’m knocking on wood right after I write this sentence), but I’m traveling again soon and the usual anxiety is coming up. There are some steps I typically take to prepare myself for a flight, and since its been ages since I’ve touched base on that, I figured I’d cover it here! Ps, I’m not going to include any photos of airplanes because I know (at least for myself) that sometimes seeing airplanes can cause anxiety. So, without further ado, lets get started!
Think Ahead: I used to basically try to ignore the fact that I was going to be a plane for the better part of 3 years. It was my way of coping, but whenever the big day would come, I’d start to panic. I’d start to feel underprepared and worry about how I was going to handle being in the air. Thankfully, I usually fly with the same airline so the fear of not fitting wouldn’t worry me as much, but I remember those feelings when I first started to fly. Let those fears and worries you have come to the surface, and then knock off them off your list of concerns by figuring out ways to deal with them. I promise, it’ll save you so much anxiety!
Go comfortable: Ok, so sometimes I’m still tempted to dress up for the airport but I talk myself out of it (most of the time). You guys, layovers are the worst and sometimes you have to bolt it to catch your next flight. Nothing is worse than thinking “oh my god, why did I wear this?” when you’re running to catch your next flight. Even if you don’t have to worry about catching your layover, there’s still lugging around your suitcase, waiting in long lines, long walks to terminals, security and sitting for a couple of hours in an often uncomfortable and tight space. Don’t do yourself a disservice and wear uncomfortable shoes and clothing. You can always change when you land! I really love wearing a very comfortable and stretchy pair of leggings for the flight. Torrid makes some of my favourite leggings, and they even have some printed leggings if you wanna go a little bit cute.
Pack some entertainment: It seems pretty obvious, but sometimes we don’t really think of this. Typically, if you’re on a longer flight, they’ll have entertainment built into the seat in front of you but you can’t always count on that. I’ve had many a flight where that wasn’t an option for me and I’ve been left twiddling my thumbs until we land. When I was a kid, my mother packed cross words and other activity books for us because our options were limited. However, now there are endless options! Did you know that you can download videos from Netflix and it’ll be available to watch offline for 48hrs or so? If you’re into podcasts, collect a bunch to catch up on! Bring your laptop to get some offline work done (perfect for influencers flying for business). Maybe even pack some face sheets and give yourself a little spa treatment while you listen to your favourite music! You can even download a bunch of games (I love Juice Jam) on your phone, and I find those eat up my time really well! Or you really can go the old school route and buy a bunch of crossword books from the dollar store for entertainment as well!
Bring Noise Cancelling Headphones: I learned this tip sort of recently, and mostly as a fluke while traveling. My boyfriend gifted me a very cute pair of noise cancelling headphones a few Christmases ago, and I started packing those for my long trips. I started to realize that my anxiety levels would decrease a bit whenever I’d wear them on the plane. I’m super sensitive to sounds, and like many other people, sudden and extreme noises can make me panic. Having something to help cancel out the overwhelming sounds and ground me can be really, really helpful! This tip might not apply to everyone, but at the very least, having something that cancels out the chatter and lets you focus on whatever it is your doing can be beneficial too. Regular earbuds just don’t fade out the background as well for me, but they might be enough for you. I’ll come to a healthy balance and suggest headphones overall! Ps, I just stumbled on this article breaking down what different sounds mean on a plane and I’m about to familiarize myself for peace of mind. I’d suggest it for you, too!
Do your research: Believe me, I know how scary it is to type in “flight anxiety” into google and Youtube. I stayed far, far away from googling my fears for years until one night (after bothering Gilbert with my extreme anxiety for hours), I just did it. My GOD, was it a breath of fresh air. There is an abundance of information at your fingertips from pilots, flight attendants, passengers who are facing their fear and more. I’ve watched people tackle their fear and used that to tackle mine as well. Often times, they’ll break down what turbulence means, and the logistics behind it. I’m still not a care free, non-nervous flyer like a lot of the people I encounter on flights but it’s nice to come equipped with the knowledge of what’s really happening. Ps, this can also relate to researching your airline, too. What are their rules and restrictions on seating. Are their notorious for overpricing airline seats for heavier passengers? Which airline is the most accommodating for fat flyers? I don’t have all the answers for you here, but I think its highly beneficial to know a little bit about their airline you’re flying with.
Get yourself a seat belt extender: Did you know that you can ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender? I typically ask the flight attendant who I first see for a seat belt extender before sitting down. I’ve made myself really comfortable with the idea of asking for the space and supplies I need to ensure my comfort on a plan, even though this was a hard one to do at first. I never wanted to draw attention to the fact that I couldn’t fit the regular seat belt, but after not being able to get it buckled, I just had to. Flight attendants are their to ensure your comfort and safety on a flight, and seat belt extenders are their to help fat flyers feel more comfortable in a seat. I’ve never, ever been met with anything but kindness and discretion when I ask for mine. However, if you just can’t bring yourself to ask, you can go about buying your own. They run relatively cheap on amazon and they even have a bunch available for prime shipping if you need it asap! Whichever way you decide to go, just know your comfort is paramount and you are allowed to ask for what you need to make your flight more comfortable for you!
Pick your seats wisely: Sometimes airlines can charge you extra for picking your seat early, and often times more space means more money. In a lot of cases, throwing some extra money at more room or early seat selection can be the difference between discomfort and smooth sailing. Personally, I like sitting by the window for shorter flights because I know I won’t need to get up and I like having a place to rest my head. However, if I’m on a longer flight and stuck in a 3-4 seat section, I refuse to sit by the window. People will recline into your lap and make an already tight fit even tighter. I’m also notorious for having to pee ever 1-2hrs and being stuck is the last thing I want to deal with. When I was traveling home from England, I sat by the window without realizing what it meant for my accessibility. When it came time to use the washroom, I could barely get out and had to bother the row in front of me to push their seats up. Thank goodness my boyfriend was the only one sitting beside me, or else I would have had to bother my row, too. In the case that you really just can’t afford to get more leg room, try to check in early enough to pick your seat.
Keep your essentials on you: Originally, I was going to break down all the stuff I think you really need to have on you for a flight but that just seemed like too much work. Instead, I’ll just compile a list of essentials I think I need to have accessibility to on a flight. For starters, having gum and/or water is mighty important to me. If you haven’t been on a plane in awhile, your ears will pop as your take off, land and sometimes while you’re cruising. Let me tell you, this can be painful as hell if you’re not prepared. I can still remember the most painful ear pop I had and how unprepared I was for it. Pack some gum, and double check that you have easy access to it before boarding. I like to grab a water bottle near my gate because I find my mouth gets really dry. If you don’t want to spend money, ask for one as soon as you can. Pack some pens, just in case you need to fill out a customs form. Make sure your headphones are in your bag. Put some deodorant in your bag too while you’re at it. I almost always sweat during the whole process of traveling and I like to refresh when I land. I like to pack a squishy toy as well because it helps when I’m feeling anxiety and I need something to distract from that. Jot down a list of things you think you’ll need or want easy access to while you’re in the plan. I swear, making sure you have the option to grab what you need easily can lift plenty of anxiety off of your shoulders.
Consider Anxiety Medication: First and foremost, I know this isn’t something everyone is comfortable with. For years, I really tried to handle the anxiety on my own but I often found myself thinking “I wish I had something to calm me down” whenever I’d feel overwhelmed mid flight. I finally spoke to my doctor and she prescribed me a very low dosage anxiety medication. Honestly, I only take my meds when I feel like I really need it and I actually haven’t in awhile. But lets be realistic, sometimes we just need the extra help. I can’t give you much extra guidance or help other than “ask your doctor”. Just know, its ok to go this path if you need it!
Talk to someone about your anxiety: Whether you find a friend or loved one to vent to before hand, or confide in the flight attendant, its important to talk it out. Often times, I’ll mention to a flight attendant that I’m a nervous flyer and have them warn me of the flight is going to be turbulent. Typically, they’re well aware of what to expect while in the air, and they’re happy to relay that information to me. Additionally, I’ll have my typical “I’m so nervous about flying” conversation the night before and I can’t tell you how nice it is to be put at ease. People aren’t always assholes, even though on flights they can be, so trust your instincts ask confide in people around you and your life. It can make an incredible difference!
You’re allowed to be there: Much to the disbelief of asshole flyers, you’re allowed to be on the flight. If the airline sells you a ticket, allows you on the plane and lets you sit in your sit, you’re good to go. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had people complain, move or look at me funny when they sit next to me. In fact, I’ve caught them texting about me as I’m sitting beside them! But guess what? It’s not my problem. People will complain no matter what you do, say or look like. So keep your head up and know that you’re allowed to take up the space that you do!
I think thats it for all the tips I have! I could probably go on and on and on, but I wanted to keep this as short and sweet as possible. If you want to check out my (very old) Youtube video about flying tips, I’ll link it here! With that being said, I really hope this list was helpful and I’d appreciate any tips you might have for me!