10 Relaxation Tips to Keep You Calm as You Fly On

Flying gives a lot of people the spooks. In fact, 25% of travelers are nervous fliers to some extent. Here's your little relaxation guide.

Fear of flying doesn’t stop many from traveling, but it sure causes a lot of sleepless nights and knots in the stomach before trips no matter how excited a person is about their destination.

For some, it’s turbulence. Hours of shaking and sudden drops down during a flight can make you want to curl into a ball and resent getting on a plane for years to come.

It can also be a variety of other things. Claustrophobia, control issues, news about a recent plane crash or simply the idea of sitting in a metal tube being propelled through the air 30,000ft above the ground. These are all good reasons to be freaked out.

The good news is that there are ways to manage the fear of flying so they don’t affect your desire to explore the world. Read on for some basic facts that might help to calm your nerves.

The numbers work in your favor

  • Your chances of being killed in a plane crash are 1 in 11 million, compared to 1 in 5,000 for a car accident. This makes flying far safer that the drive to the airport.
  • Turbulence has never taken down a commercial airliner. The bumps result from pressure changes in the air and they’re completely normal at the altitude that most planes fly at.
  • Jet engines are much more simple than those you’ll find in a car or even a lawnmower, and the plane functions just fine with only one working.
  • Once you reach 30,000 feet there are about 20,000 lbs of pressure holding the door shut. If that doesn’t keep them closed, nothing will!
  • For every hour of flight time, the plane undergoes 11 hours of maintenance. That’s 55 hours for a 5 hour flight. Remember when your flight was delayed because the curtain between Business and Economy class was not closing? Yes, they were not kidding.

Our 10 step “stay cool” program


If the facts don’t help you to calm down, you can try the following methods to manage your fear during the flight:

  1. Grill the Experts
    If understanding how a plane works will help to calm you down, find a friendly pilot or engineer to corner for a friendly chat.
  2. Avoid Action Movies
    Researching news about plane accidents or watching movies about a hijacking will probably only make you feel worse, even though they might be great for a date on the ground.
  3. Location Matters Even on the Plane
    When you book your flight, let the airline representative know that you’re a nervous flyer. Sitting in the aisle seat close to the front of the plane will mean less turbulence and claustrophobia. It also means easier access to the crew if you need something. If they’re in the loop on how you’re feeling, they will be more than happy to respond to any questions or concerns you might have throughout the flight.
  4. Leave it to the Experts
    You may have no influence over the plane’s performance, but keep in mind the pilot is probably better at flying the plane than you. If it’s lack of control that irks you, remember that you made the decision to travel and you can decide how to deal with the situation at hand.
  5. Don’t Let Your Eyes Wander
    If you have claustrophobia, thinking about how little space is around you and looking at the ceiling will only make you feel more trapped. Focus on a movie, sudoku, a good book or work, and it will help you to distract yourself from where you are.
  6. Think Happy Thoughts
    Whether it’s the beautiful place you’re traveling to, chocolate cake or your last amazing date, teleporting your mind elsewhere when you start to feel anxious will help you feel better. If that’s hard for you, put on a meditation podcast, music or an audiobook to help carry your mind away. If your mind starts to race through “what if” scenarios when the seatbelt sign goes on, re-route it as quickly as you can even if it means counting to 500.
  7. Skip the Caffeine
    Drinking coffee or tea can wind you up and increase anxiety. I’m afraid the same applies to chocolate, even though it sure makes you happy while you’re eating it!
  8. Breathe like You’re on the Yoga Mat
    In my yoga class, I learned that breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth can put you in the zone and help you to decompress. If you do it slowly and deeply, just a few minutes will make a difference.
  9. Take Legal Herbs
    Check with your doctor first, but supplements like Valerian have calming effects. You can also bring a bag or two of herbal tea in your carry-on to sip on in moments of crisis.
  10. Take Flying Lessons
    While this may sound extreme, it worked wonders for me. Flying into the clouds turned into a game and turbulence became a mere drive on a rocky road

Here’s to happier, relaxing flights!

What techniques do you use to calm yourself when flying? We’d love to hear more from you.

About the author

Eva B.

Eva is a NYC based Marketing specialist who spends a third of her time traveling for work and fun. She launched Travelle, an online platform for female business and leisure travelers featuring beauty, wellness and style tips. When not traveling, Eva can be found in NYC writing, photographing, spending time with friends and scheming her next getaway.

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