26 Ways to Reduce Anxiety, Air Sickness, and Ear Pain While Flying

Whether you are going on vacation or heading off on a business trip, flying can bring on feelings of trepidation. It may stem from a concern for your safety while in the air, being in a crowded plane, struggles with air sickness or ear problems, or having to sit for several hours.

There may be a solution.

How to Alleviate Your Anxiety:

You’ve probably heard all about how flying is much safer than driving—and that is true—but it may not help to reduce your fears. If flying produces extreme anxiety, you may need to check with your physician for suggestions on how to combat this.  But know that you are not alone.  Statistics show that over 25% of the population is afraid of flying.  There is hope for overcoming this fear.

If you are putting off traveling to a terrific place because it involves flying, I totally understand.  You can either keep your feet firmly planted on the ground or give one of these simple techniques a try.

Free stock photo of restaurant, landscape, nature, mountain

1.  Try flying on a larger plane versus one of the smaller planes that may fly out of regional airports. You will feel less confined and will not experience as much turbulence.Free stock photo of flying, people, sitting, public transportation

2.  Listening to soothing music, an audio book, your favorite speaker or comedian, or watching a movie can take your mind off your anxiety and help you feel more relaxed. Turn it on as soon as you get situated in your seat.

3.  Avoid caffeinated drinks or alcohol for a few hours before and during your flight. These will only exacerbate your anxiety.

4.  Bring some healthy snacks. If you go too long without eating, your blood sugar level may drop and could contribute to feelings of anxiety.  Foods high in sugar can also make you feel jittery and more anxious. Snack on high protein foods or fruits.

5.  Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid sugary sodas.

6.  Chewing gum may also help to ease your feelings of uneasiness.

Are you a Smoker?Woman Wearing Black Blouse

  7.  Almost all airlines have banned smoking on board. If you are a smoker and would find this stressful, it is recommended you use a nicotine patch or chew gum with nicotine during the flight.  You can also check with your doctor to see if they would suggest any other alternatives such as medication.

Reduce Ear Pain and Combat Air Sickness:

8.   If you struggle with air sickness or pain in your ears, check with your physician for their recommendations.Areal Photography of Air Plane Flying Above With Clouds during Daytime

9.  Book a seat toward the middle of the aircraft over the wings. You will experience less turbulence. It will be noisier, so bring noise canceling ear plugs.

10.  To reduce ear pain, try some air pressure regulating ear plugs. These are specialized ear plugs that lessen the symptoms caused by flying (EarPlanes work great). 

11.  Ask your doctor about prescribing Transderm Scop patches. This is a prescription patch that helps prevent nausea and vomiting. Check on possible side effects or medication interactions with your doctor. Be sure to remove them when you land and drink plenty of water since the patches cause you to become more dehydrated.

12.  Try using a travel wristbands for motion sickness (check out SeaBands).  Some people find that these work great, while others do not see any noticeable improvement.  Adult Pack

13.  Over-the-counter motion sickness pills (like Dramamine).  The downside is that some of these can cause extreme drowsiness. Try a non-drowsy formula to eliminate this problem.

14.  Chewing on ginger gum or taking ginger pills can help settle your stomach. You can also try eating soda crackers and drinking ginger ale.

15.  Avoid eating any greasy or spicy foods before your flight.

Making Your Flight More Enjoyable:

16.   If you like to get up a lot, choose an aisle seat.

17.  If you are planning on using your laptop on board, make sure you have a seat that has a power plug.

18.  Bring some earphones and your favorite tunes and listen to music. If the person next to you is a talker and you prefer to be quiet, stick your earphones in, and they’ll think you can’t hear them.

19.  Rent a movie (or bring your own) on longer flights—this can make the flight go a lot faster.

20.  Bring an eye mask for long flights so you can get some sleep.

21.  Pull out the items you will need before you store your luggage in the overhead bin. Pulling out your bag and digging through it during the flight can be an annoyance to those around you.

22.  Combat dehydration and fatigue by drinking plenty of water before and during the flight. The air in the cabin is much dryer than the air on the ground. That leads to a dry throat, nose, eyes, skin, and causes exhaustion.  Drink about 8 ounces of water each hour. You can purchase bottled water on the other side of the security checkpoint, or you can purchase it (or get it for free on many flights) on board the aircraft.  Dehydration while flying can cause other physical problems a day or so after you land.

23.  Alcohol and drinks with caffeine actually absorb water out of your system, leading to dehydration. Be sure to drink more water or juice to compensate for this.

24.  Changes in altitude oftentimes cause swelling in the abdomen, so wearing loose fitting clothes will help you stay more comfortable. If you get cold easily, bring a light jacket or sweater to wear in the cabin.

25.  To help you get some rest during the flight, bring ear plugs used to block out sound.

26.  Move around the cabin or do some exercises while in your seat to stretch out your muscles and reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis. If your feet and ankles have a tendency to swell during long flights, try some support stockings. These will help your legs feel lighter and reduce the heavy feeling.

Most of all, I sincerely hope you have an enjoyable flight!

Free stock photo of people, sign, traveling, blur

 For more travel insight, check out my book:

Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad


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