Butterflies Before Boarding – How I Cope As A Nervous Flyer

Why do so many of us struggle with air travel? I like to think the human condition acknowledges just how insane it is that our tiny bodies are catapulted into thousands of miles in to the air. It’s not natural, it’s physically impossible to do effortlessly, we’re not made for it… and yet, here we are. In the past four years I’ve traveled to more than fifteen different countries around the globe, and all that being said, I am STILL absolutely, 100% a nervous flyer.

I look at the girls who are fabulously collected, relaxed and asleep before takeoff with such jealousy, I’m sure my eyes actually turn green. How can anyone be so chill before takeoff? Meanwhile, my heart is racing at the speed of light, I’m constantly checking my phone for reassurance that there is some time left before the wheels leave the ground, I’m listening to relaxation music at full blast. Yep, I’m that girl!

Regardless of how much of a nervous flyer I am, I have picked up on a few handy tricks to find some zen before, during and after boarding. Here are some basic tips I’d like to pass along to my fellow nervous flyers!

Flight Attendants Should Be Your Emotion-Regulators

It always blows my mind to know that there are thousands of men and women who spend their work days thousands of miles in the air. Knowing that there are capable, professional workers who manipulate transportation and accommodation on daily flights around the world gives my heart peace.

So with that in mind, next time you’re in the middle of a patch of turbulence mid-flight, see how your flight attendants react. Hint: they probably won’t AT ALL. Seeing the calm and gracious attitude of the flight attendants midair will give you the zen you need. I once heard a flight attendant say to a passenger: “We all want to get home safe and sound here, too. So don’t worry. I would never, ever risk our lives on a career like this.” This is the quote I go back to over and over again when I’m feeling the anxiety of flying build.

Mindfulness, Meditation

It seems like the cliche suggestion to put out there, but download an app or two that will assist you with finding a moment of mindfulness. There are lots out there. Find some guided meditation resources. Download a playlist of peaceful music, or even create your own “comfort” soundtrack that makes you feel cozy and at home!


What better way to cope with flight anxiety than to not have to cope with it all? So yes, if you can knock yourself out… do it. Whether you time your flights so that you’ll be zonked and ready for some precious shut eye on departure (red eyes can be AMAZING for a nervous flyer!) or you dose up on melatonin or a doctor prescribed medication- do what you need to do. Try to have your eyes closed as soon as you are comfortable and before you leave the boarding area.

Schedule It Out

If sleep just isn’t possible for you… you’re not alone. One of my favorite ways to pass a flight that stresses me out is by creating a schedule for myself. Something about giving myself something to “do” every minute of the trip gives me peace of mind. So, yes, am I the crazy person who schedules each hour with movies, in flight games, reading, close eyes, drawing, magazine reading, etc. in between in-flight meals and snacks? Yes, yes I am! But I’ll tell you what, it passes the time by!

To my fellow nervous flyers, I commend you! We don’t let our anxiety stop you from jumping on that plane and seeing the planet. There’s a great wonderful world we need to explore. We just need to remember that our discomfort is absolutely worth it in the end!  

Do you consider yourself to be a nervous flyer? How do you cope?

You Might Also Like

  • Kristen Slizgi June 21, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    Yes! I can totally relate to this as well–Working in travel requires me to venture off to new and far places as well… which of course is AMAZING, but I too have flight anxiety. Sometimes it can feel crippling but the tips and tools you mentioned here are some that I use too and find useful! I’d add in that podcasts that have story lines to them are great and can help you get your mind focused on following a story rather than the flight/plane etc. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Top
    %d bloggers like this: