If the thought of being trapped in a giant metal bird 30,000 feet in the air with a bunch of strangers makes your palms sweat and your throat close up, you may be one of the many people who have a fear of flying. Known as “aviophobia,” nearly 20 million Americans say they suffer from it to such a degree that it actually affects their work and social lives.
So what’s a wanderlusting aviophobe to do? You could stick to road trips and boat cruises, but cars can only take you so far, and cruise ships are for old people. If you’re tired of staying grounded while your family and friends zip from one fantastic locale to another, here are some ways to help you get over your fear of flying once and for all.
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Learn Your Triggers
The first step in facing any fear is identifying what it is that’s triggering you. Is it the take-off, turbulence, or landing? Is it linked to a fear of heights knowing you’ll be thousands of miles up in the air? For many, it’s simply the thought of having a panic attack in the skies where there’s no escape and a cabin full of strangers watching you. Knowing what triggers you means you’ll be better equipped to manage your fears when your anxiety is low and weather the storm when it’s high.
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Know the Stats
Did you know that your chances of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 11 million? To put that in perspective, your chances of being in a fender bender are much higher, which means that the most dangerous part of your trip is likely the drive to the airport. You also have a better chance of being bit by a poisonous snake, being injured in a freak fireworks accident and becoming a pro athlete. Should that last one come true, you don’t want to end up puttering around the country in a coach bus like famous aviophobe John Madden.
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Plan Your Trip
By planning out your trip in advance, you can cut down on a few factors that might worsen your anxiety. Try to book a direct flight to avoid the stress of changing plans and waiting around in an airport. Book your seat early and choose one over the wing where the ride is typically smoother, or one on an aisle so you don’t get claustrophobic. Choose a daytime flight instead of a red eye so you don’t feel like you’re hurtling into a terrifying black abyss.