Editor’s Note: This story was originally posted in spring of 2019. These travel anxiety tips have helped us tremendously over the years. Since we are currently in the midst of preparing for more spring & summer travels, I wanted to repost these tips with hopes to help anyone else dealing with the fear of flying. — Michelle
Plan Ahead: It helps to not to have to rush. Planning far ahead gives you that time to get excited about your trip, and not feel stressed about plans.
Have necessary medication if needed: Both my son and I have seen a doctor and have been prescribed medication to help us through the flights. Sometimes it is just enough to take that edge off so there is no full on meltdown. (*remember only take these if they have been prescribed by a medical doctor.) Other medications and things I always have in my little travel bag are, Dramamine, nasal spray, gum, decongestant, Tylenol, and suckers.
Pack early: Getting things packed and organized helps me feel better than rushing around last minute.
Research: This really helped my son. He doesn’t like things he doesn’t understand or can’t control. So, sitting with him and reading about how airplanes fly and the dynamics behind it helped put his mind at ease.
Have stuff to do: For my kids this means unlimited iPad time. Flying is the only time they ever get unlimited screen time. It gives them something to look forward to, and it takes their minds off the flight. For me, I always like to have a movie or a few tv shows queued up.
Leave early for airport: We all feel anxious when we are running late, so why not take that out of the equation. Get there early. This gives you time to casually eat a meal, use the restroom, and hit the convenience shops without rushing.
Noise Cancelling headphones: These have helped a lot. My son suffers from auditory and sensory processing disorders, and all the noise on the airplane can make his anxiety worse. The noise canceling headphones have also helped me. It’s nice to have a little serenity in a chaotic environment.
- A Doctor’s Note: Since our son was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and has been prescribed medicine, we wanted to make sure that our seats are never separated on the plane. We asked our doctor to write a letter explaining his condition and that he is to not be seated away from his guardians during a flight. This also helps with my anxiety being that it makes this one less thing for me to worry about.
- Airport Therapy Dog: This is a bonus one if you are lucky enough to be flying out of an airport that provides therapy animals. Some airports have animals in certain terminals that help individuals face their fears before they fly. We are lucky to have San Jose International as our home airport, and they were the first to provide therapy animals. It was pretty amazing to watch my son and daughter start to relax and direct their focus to the dog instead of the upcoming flight.
Mom of two and seeking sanity in the everyday. Let’s chat about family, school struggles, travel, and living our best life. Located in the San Francisco Bay area.
That is such a shame that he had that bad experience. My son has travel anxiety too, but not because of any flying. He just isn’t comfortable anywhere that isn’t home. He really doesn’t like going on vacation at all and I always feel so bad that it’s not the exciting treat that vacations are for the rest of us. Have a great week.
Oh man, that has to be hard. My son gets like that sometimes too where he just wants to be home. He was really nervous about Costa Rica, but I think I may have played it up too much and freaked him out a little. I am learning to downplay our trips, so he doesn’t overthink them. Thanks for reading!