Home Travel Tips from a Travel Writer to Overcome Your Fear of Flying

Tips from a Travel Writer to Overcome Your Fear of Flying


Travel is my passion – in fact, it’s my profession. I find myself in the air at least once a month, whether it’s a quick trip to the US, destinations in the Caribbean or Mexico, or longer hauls to Europe. I’ve been fortunate to explore countries like Japan, Greece, Spain, Ireland, France, Curacao, and various Caribbean and Mexican locales, both for work and pleasure.

However, what many people don’t know is that I suffer from aerophobia – a genuine fear of flying. I joke about it, but the reality is far from humorous.

In the days leading up to my flight, irrational fears take hold – what if this flight ends in tragedy and I never see my family again? The night before departure is fraught with anxiety, leaving me lucky to get even a couple of hours of sleep. Returning flights evoke similar thoughts – after such a great trip, could this be my last? The night before is often sleepless, filled with worry.

Strangely, I genuinely love the whole experience of flying – the sounds and scents of airports, even the novelty of airplane food with its tiny compartments. The anticipation of arriving at a new destination, meeting colleagues face-to-face, and immersing myself in new cultures and accommodations exhilarates me.

Adding to the irony, a significant portion of my family and friends are pilots and flight attendants. They’ve patiently explained flight mechanics and safety statistics, yet my anxiety persists. Anxiety, after all, thrives on irrationality, which lies at the heart of my struggle.

Knowing many share similar fears, I’ve discovered personal strategies that help me face my fear and board that plane.

Upon arriving at the airport, I take a moment to observe the departure/arrival boards. Seeing the multitude of flights operating safely helps put my fears in perspective. Plane crashes are exceptionally rare, despite anxious thoughts suggesting otherwise.

Rather than waiting anxiously at the gate, I prefer to stay active. Walking around, browsing shops, and indulging in a glass of wine with snacks while I work on my laptop keeps my mind occupied.

Informing the flight crew of my apprehension when boarding has been incredibly beneficial. They’re accustomed to nervous flyers and have often checked in with me preemptively during turbulence or stressful moments, offering reassurance and support.

Consulting with my doctor has also been crucial. She shares my irrational fear, which oddly comforts me. She prescribed lorazepam, although its sedative effects make it less suitable for short flights when I need to be alert.

Ultimately, focusing on the positive aspects of travel helps. Reminding myself of the destination – whether it’s a sunny vacation spot or a long-awaited adventure – shifts my attention from fear to anticipation. Once on board, I take deep breaths, enjoy distractions like movies or drinks, and focus on the experiences awaiting me at my destination.