My sister is a nervous flyer.
Having traveled with her, I know that the experience can be downright stressful. The logistics can bring on panic attacks and overwhelming anxiety.
But you don’t have to let it stop you from exploring. If you come prepared with a few packing essentials in your carry on travel survival kit, and a little bit of research, your mind can be put more at ease.
Here are some of the packing essentials I’ve used to help my sister, and hopefully they can help you, too.
Activities and Distractions
It’s important to keep yourself busy during a flight to keep the panic from rising. After my sister’s first panic attack on a flight home from Puerto Rico, we started packing a handful of distractions to keep her hands and mind busy during takeoff and landing, the two things that bring on the most panic.
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- Coloring Book– They’re not just for kids! I got this one from a store on a whim, but there are even coloring books made just for anxiety relief. Color Me Calm and the Mandala Coloring Book are two great brands because they have lots of detail to color. And don’t forget coloring utensils! I like the Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils. (Check out the Color Me Calm book, the Mandala Coloring Book, and the Crayola Colored Pencils on Amazon.)
- Play Doh or Kinetic Sand– These toys are others that were originally created for children, but have additional uses. Kinetic sand feels like regular sand, but you can sculpt it into shapes and it stays together. And Play Doh can be purchased at any toy store or even made at home! MohDoh is another product that brings together aromatherapy and a molding substance. (Check out kinetic sand on Amazon.)
- Music and white noise– Create a playlist on your iPod to play during the flight with calming tunes or white noise. Download some classical or instrumental music for your trip. On my playlist is some Simon and Garfunkel, Jose Gonzalez and Adem. There’s even a White Noise app that will cover up the plane noises so that you don’t get concerned. Get some noise canceling or high quality headphones to go with it.
- Knitting and Crocheting– It’s not just for your grandmother! You can bring your knitting and crocheting needles on the plane, so take along a ball of yarn in your bag. This will keep you focused on not dropping loops and keeps both your eyes and hands busy.
- Books and Movies– Obviously books and movies are great for keeping you entertained. Download a few books on your Kindle so that if you get bored, you can try another one. I also have games like Solitaire downloaded onto mine. And a few movies will help as well, especially if you end up on a plane with no entertainment system, as I recently did from London to Atlanta!
Aromatherapy and Homeopathic Remedies
Certain scents, like lavender and eucalyptus, can have calming effects on the mind, so you can bring aromatherapy oil or mist to spritz your pillow. It’s also a good idea to bring homeopathic remedies and medicines that make you drowsy to help you sleep through the flight instead of staying up and continuing to be anxious.
- Rescue Remedy– I’d heard great things about this product, so I bought a small vial to test out on my flight to London. It’s made up of five different flowers and herbs and is used for anxiety, mouth sores and dozens of other ailments. (Check out Rescue Remedy on Amazon.)
- Tiger Balm– We’ve discussed it in the past, but in case you didn’t know, Tiger Balm cures just about everything! Sniff the tub to calm an upset stomach and anxiety or put a little under your nose. It’s also great for achy muscles and mosquito bites.
- Sleeping Medicine– I also pack something to make me drowsy for longer flights so that I can either sleep or just feel calmer. Dramamine and melatonin are usually what I pack.
- Paper bag– If worst comes to worst and you find yourself breathing rapidly, the sound of breathing into a paper bag, even if it’s an air sickness bag, can be calming.
If you pack all of these items, you should be prepared for your nerves on the flight. But you can also get to the airport early so that you have plenty of time to prepare. Research what type of plane you’ll be flying so you know where the emergency exits, galleys and bathrooms are located.
You can board the plane last so there’s less time waiting around with people crowding the aisles. Pick your seat in advance so that you can get an aisle seat. And if it’s a long haul flight, skip the meal and go straight to sleep. If it’s a shorter flight, have an adult beverage to settle your nerves.
Any other tips for nervous fliers?
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