How to Stay Calm When Flying for the First Time
The thought of flying on an aeroplane can be nerve-racking if it is something you’ve never experienced before, especially if you’re travelling alone. However, making sure you are feeling comfortable, calm and most of all excited for your trip is really important.
While we recently provided our top flight tips for first-time flyers, helping you to prepare for your first time navigating an airport, in this guide we will look specifically at the best methods of calming your nerves before and during the flight itself. From preparing in advance for your first flight to practising techniques that can help you stay relaxed while in the air, carry on reading as we list our top tips.
Preparing for your first flight
Aside from physically flying, a lot of the anxiety you may feel about travelling by air for the first time could well be connected to the administration of preparing for your trip. From ensuring your passport and boarding passes are all in order to organising transport and booking airport car parking, there is a lot to organise when planning a trip abroad. With this in mind, we recommend giving yourself plenty of time to make all the arrangements you need. You should:
- If you don’t already have one, apply for a passport. It is important to note this costs £75.50 to apply for a passport and you must allow 10 weeks for it to arrive after submitting your application.
- If you already have a passport, check it hasn’t expired and has at least six months validity (from the date you will be returning to the UK). If you need to renew your passport, again it is important to plan for the cost and waiting time of a renewal application.
- Check the current entry requirements for your destination. Different countries may require visas or vaccination passes, for example, for you to enter the country. For this reason, it’s always good to check with the UK Government website to check the requirements of each country.
- Make sure you have printed or digitally sorted your boarding pass. Without it, you will not be able to get on the plane.
- Ensure you have organised transport to the airport, or, if you are driving yourself, make sure you have booked airport parking. If you are particularly anxious about your first visit to an airport, it might be worth spending a little more on fast-track parking. This allows you to park close to the airport and enjoy complimentary fast track security passes.
- When your departure date arrives, make sure you get to the airport with plenty of time to spare before your flight. Rushing to check your bags, get through security and locate your gate will only stress you out more, while arriving early allows you to go at your own pace.
How does it feel to fly for the first time?
For many first time flyers, it is simply the fear of the unknown that causes anxiety. Although some people retain a fear of flying even after many safe flights, for others, the experience of flying on an aeroplane for the first time is enough to quash future anxiety. However, before your first flight, what should you be expecting?
There are three things you need to be aware of when planning to fly for the first time. The first is taking off. The best way to describe this is to compare it to when you are in a lift. This is to say, you can feel when the plane’s wheels leave the ground, but you don’t feel unstable or weightless, as some expect.
The second thing to expect is turbulence. Turbulence feels like slight bumps during the flight and is caused by inclement weather. While this can be unsettling to experience, it is important to remember that turbulence is completely normal.
The last thing to prepare for is descent and landing - this will usually start around 30 minutes from your destination. The only thing you need to prepare yourself for during this part of your flight is the possibility of your ears popping. This happens when the pressure builds inside your ears as the air gets thicker. To relieve this pressure, simply suck on a boiled sweet, yawn or swallow. Finally, as the plane comes into land, you will feel a small bump as the wheels touch down.
How to stop worrying about flying
If, after you have made all your preparations, checked your bag, and have made your way to your departure gate, you are still feeling anxious, there are a number of things you can do to manage your emotions. These are:
Although much easier said than done, taking a minute to think about the reasons why you are feeling worried and overcoming them with logic can really help. It may be hard to believe when you are feeling worried at 35,000ft, but the fact is that you are actually safer flying than you are crossing a road, taking a bath or even just walking down the stairs at home. Even though it does not feel like it, flying is incredibly safe - so try to keep reminding yourself of this!
Find ways to distract yourself
Taking your mind off your fears is a great way to relieve feelings of anxiety, especially when it comes to a fear of flying. Before your trip, it’s a good idea to prepare something to keep your mind occupied during the duration of your flight, if you know you are going to be feeling anxious. Download a new podcast or audiobook to listen to, finally get started on the new bestseller you have been dying to read, or even take a laptop or tablet and crack on with some work while you fly. You might be surprised how quickly a flight goes when you’ve been able to keep your mind busy!
Focus on breathing
While it may sound like a cliche, taking deep breaths and focusing on the pattern of your breathing is a great way to calm yourself down and prevent a panic attack. As well as helping to regulate the supply of oxygen in your body, which can help tackle anxiety, deep breathing also helps to focus your attention on something other than your fear of flying. So, if you start to feel overwhelmed or a panic attack comes on during your first flight, breathe deeply until you start to feel more relaxed.