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How to Overcome Fear of Flying

Traveling for the Fearful

>> Over the years I noticed travelling had an immensely positive impact on me. Especially solo travel can push us out of our comfort zone and teach us many aspects of our personalities. It highlights our strengths and weaknesses and helps us develop tools to live a richer & more fulfilling life. I knew I wasn’t the only one who reaped the benefits of travelling for personal development.

This guest post series ‘Travel for Personal Development’ introduces you to others who have, in one way or another, travelled for personal development: be it to learn a new language, to mend a broken heart or to overcome an anxiety. Hopefully it will encourage you to travel more yourself and perhaps even help you to overcome barriers. <<

Meet Kenneth who decided to conquer his anxiety and fear of flying to be able to fulfill his dream of travelling the world!

Udemy

How to Overcome a Fear of Flying? – Traveling for the Fearful!

 

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Travel for Personal Development // How to overcome a fear of flying // Meet Kenneth who faced his biggest fear: to step on a plane and fly! Click on the post to find out how he gradually conquered his fear in order to fulfill his biggest dream: to travel the world!

The one single thing that holds more people back from being happy and achieving their dreams and living the life they want to live is fear. Fear of failure, fear of regret, fear of rejection, etc. Fear is a survival mechanism in the body, it keeps us safe, it keeps us aware, but all too often it keeps us imprisoned. We tend to fear that which we do not understand, that which we haven’t experienced, it’s completely normal.

While some fear might be healthy in some situations (maybe a hungry bear that wants you for lunch, which will strike healthy fear in you), it’s generally just a lack of knowledge in many other situations. The more you learn about something, the less fear you’ll have, and even then, knowledge can only take you so far.

So if you’re like me and want to travel, but have an unexplainable fear of flying, you probably have the same question I did for the longest time; how to overcome a fear of flying?

How to overcome a fear of flying

Growing up I always thought “I’ll never get on a plane, I just can’t do it” and for the longest time I believed it.

Then when I was 25 I ended up being set back further when I began to suffer anxiety attacks. I would be walking from the living room to the kitchen and suddenly be struck by the overwhelming sense of dread, believing that I was about to die. Fear rushed in and flooded my head and took over all my thoughts, ideas, and senses for a moment; loss of hearing, loss of feeling, terrible tunnel vision, and then I would just simply collapse under the stress.

After a visit to the emergency room during one of these episodes I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was told by the doctor who diagnosed me and also was told by my family physician that there is no cure and I would have to take pills for the rest of my life!

How to overcome a fear of flying

Fast forward about 4 years and the opportunity presents itself to travel for work to Wilmington, DE. My boss gives me the option to either drive 6 hours or fly for 50 minutes. After sleeping on it I decided “well, if I want to travel the world, I need to fly!” So, with that thought I chose to fly, besides, a 50 minute flight is probably one of the shortest flights you can take, so it’s a good intro for anyone.

Was I scared? Of course! Did I get anxious during takeoff? Absolutely! It wasn’t easy at all, even after we were up in the air for a half hour I was still shaking in fear, but as we began our descent I felt relieved, and when we touched down I was ecstatic and full of energy because I succeeded in facing my biggest fear.

You might be thinking “well, you had anti-anxiety pills which probably helped”, and you’d be wrong! I tried a few different medications, but I just didn’t like being on medication that alters my mind, so I started learning to face my fear and how to defeat it without simply masking it.

Travel for Personal Development // How to overcome a fear of flying // Meet Kenneth who faced his biggest fear: to step on a plane and fly! Click on the post to find out how he gradually conquered his fear in order to fulfill his biggest dream: to travel the world!

My suggestion on how to overcome fear of flying is pretty simple, break down every decision to fly to make the fear more manageable. When I booked my first flight I kept telling myself “I can always back out of it”. All the way until I’m at the boarding gate and I’m next in line, I continue to tell myself that “I can STILL get out of this, that choice is still available”. Make the small choices to take one more step and remind yourself you can still back out; by breaking it down into tiny decisions, you reduce a lot of the fear in every choice, try not to face the fear all at once.

how to overcome a fear of flying

When you book the flight, just think “clicking the mouse button isn’t scary at all”; and use that with each step of the process, “packing my luggage isn’t scary, it’s kinda fun!”, “driving to the airport can be hectic, but it’s certainly not scary, plus I can always turn around and go back home”. And when you’re at the gate, just tell yourself “a few more steps and I’ll accomplish something big in life”, which should give you that final motivational push! And if you need to, tell yourself “hey, I can always get off before they shut the door, let’s just see if I can sit down in my seat”.

How to overcome a fear of flying

Image via Flickr CC by Cosimo

Am I still anxious getting on a plane? Yes, but it’s different now. I KNOW I can do it, the fears and anxieties are still there, but I know for a fact that I can do it because after that first time is done, I have that ability now. I’m guessing this is how roughly 60% of all flyers can get on a plane, because that’s how many people that fly have the same fear as you; they have done it before and this is just another flight, no flight will probably ever be as scary as your first, because you learn what flying is actually like!

You may find another method on how to overcome fear of flying, but once you do it, it’ll be an accomplishment under your belt and something that’ll stick with you for the rest of your life!

Udemy

 

What about you? Have you recently conquered a fear of flying? What advice can Heart Iconyou give others who may be facing the same challenge? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

About Kenneth

heart-blueKenneth is 30 years old. He was born and raised in Cleveland, OH and has been working in the IT field for the past 10 years and as of last year decided it’s not for him and that he needed to pursue his life-long dream of traveling the world. He’s always highly enjoyed writing, so he figured he would try to combine these 2 things by writing about his travels.

You can follow Kenneth’s adventures on Twitter & Instagram.

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Travel for Personal Development // How to overcome a fear of flying // Meet Kenneth who faced his biggest fear: to step on a plane and fly! Click on the post to find out how he gradually conquered his fear in order to fulfill his biggest dream: to travel the world!

Travel for Personal Development // How to overcome a fear of flying // Meet Kenneth who faced his biggest fear: to step on a plane and fly! Click on the post to find out how he gradually conquered his fear in order to fulfill his biggest dream: to travel the world!

Image via Flickr CC by Cosimo

 

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27 Comments

  • Sam

    18.04.2016 at 07:55 Reply

    So happy to hear you fought for it Kenneth!
    I travel a lot and I’m still saying: I hate flying. I’m not usually facing anxiety at all but I do sometimes in airplanes. What does help me a lot is the thought of the destination. I am trying to calm down and tell myself that even if something would happen, I couldn’t change it and would at least die as a happy person, as someone who traveled the world and fulfilled her dreams. But as we all know, it is highly unlikely to die in an airplane and therefore I rather push myself into the thought of the destination, I’m imagining to be there, I see it, I feel it. I’m reminding myself why I am actually sitting in this airplane. And all of the sudden the smile comes back to my face, its all worth it and not so bad after all. And on long-haul flights unlimited wine consumption might help as well 🙂

    • Serendipity Tess

      18.04.2016 at 17:42 Reply

      I find a glass of champagne works the best – or Bailey’s 🙂 Yum! Thanks for the lovely advice Sam! You made me laugh!

    • TravelingKen

      20.04.2016 at 02:25 Reply

      My first long haul flight was much easier than I thought, I figured I would be freaking out. My very first flight (the one I mentioned in the post) was on such a small plane, we felt every bump and air pocket, but I guess it was a good introduction, it gave me a good sense of “hey, I survived all that!”. My most recent flight was to Narita International in Japan and it was on a 787, smoother than a limousine and enormous in size! It certainly made me forget I was flying many times. Plus the complimentary wine helped a bit! I agree that thinking of your destination certainly helps! I also had downloaded some Japanese lessons to have something to keep my mind preoccupied as well. As long as I don’t let my mind wander, I’m usually alright. And now that I’m in Japan, I still can’t believe I did a 13 hour flight! I thank my younger self (even if it’s only a year back) often for making the decision to get on that very first flight!

  • Dana

    07.05.2016 at 07:04 Reply

    It’s so great you were able to concur your fear and get on that plane! I also have anxiety and take pills to help manage it. However, the more I have traveled and overcome my fears, the less medication I seem to take.

    • TravelingKen

      17.05.2016 at 06:23 Reply

      Thanks! That’s great news about not needing as many meds!

  • Brianna Simmons

    07.05.2016 at 22:10 Reply

    I love that you overcame your fear of flying , especially by breaking your goal down into manageable steps.

  • Vicki Louise

    08.05.2016 at 02:40 Reply

    Well done Kenneth for sticking with it! I’ve never had a fear of flying but I can image it being both debilitating and anxiety inducing – kudos to you for every time you get on a plane and fight your fear! Oh – and the complimentary wine always helps me relax too!
    Vicki Louise recently posted…48 Hours In Berlin: The HighlightsMy Profile

  • Tara

    08.05.2016 at 06:53 Reply

    Overcoming our fears is such an amazing part of living a rich and fulfilling life. I don’t like flying much, but I have other fears that are much bigger. I’m always pushing myself to the limit to make the fears recede. Great post!

    • TravelingKen

      17.05.2016 at 06:28 Reply

      Thank you so much! Pushing yourself is the only way to defeat fear and it’s so rewarding once you realise what you’ve overcome!

  • melody pittman

    08.05.2016 at 09:52 Reply

    I have several friends who are afraid of flying but I never knew just how they felt until I read your post. That is so scary. Glad you were able to overcome and write about your anxiety to share with others. Maybe they will be able to enjoy life a little more now. 😉

    • TravelingKen

      17.05.2016 at 06:31 Reply

      Thank you! The fact that I could possibly help somone is an amazing feeling!

  • Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

    08.05.2016 at 15:22 Reply

    I love that you say fear is what keeps us safe but it also imprisons us. How true and such an interesting paradox. Good for you for standing up to your fears. I’m not a fan of boats, but I will take them if necessary. It has really been something I’ve been working to get past. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie recently posted…6 Ways to Earn IHG Points and Benefit from their Rewards ProgramMy Profile

    • TravelingKen

      17.05.2016 at 06:35 Reply

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad I could create inspiration! Fear is such a weird human emotion especially when there’s no reason for it. I haven’t had too much experience riding on boats myself yet.

  • Christina

    08.05.2016 at 16:34 Reply

    I hope your post is found by those who have a fear of flying and that they are able to follow the steps you have outlined. Being able to fly opens up so many areas of the world. Congratulations on being able to conquer your fear.

  • Bianca

    08.05.2016 at 17:11 Reply

    For as long as I can remember, traveling by plane has always been kind of exciting. There are some parts of the experience that I don’t enjoy, i. e. waiting in long lines; but for the most part I like flying. So it is hard to imagine how dreadful it all seems for you. What I find really admirable is that you have chosen to deal with your anxiety on your own terms and without medication. That is quite cool!

    • TravelingKen

      17.05.2016 at 06:44 Reply

      Thank you! I have a friend who recently flew for the first time and said he loved it and even fell asleep. I was both happy for him and also a bit jealous, lol! My anxiety has been a struggle, but facing it head-on everyday gets better and better.

  • Elena

    08.05.2016 at 20:57 Reply

    So wonderful that you were able to conquer your fear! I know that this is something that many people face and am fortunate to love flying…but it is definitely a real issue for many that would love to travel but cannot get over the anxiety.

    • TravelingKen

      17.05.2016 at 06:53 Reply

      Thank you for your comment! I was very relieved when I first started doing research and learning that having a fear of flying is rather common. I even just learned a few weeks back that David Bowie (so sad about his passing) gained a fear of flying after a stormy flight and stuck to ships and trains throughout the majority of his career, it’s shocking how strong fear can be.

  • Trisha Velarmino - P.S. I'm On My Way

    11.05.2016 at 05:12 Reply

    Congratulations on conquering your fear! It really is true — until we try, we’ll never know. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts!
    Trisha Velarmino – P.S. I’m On My Way recently posted…Should I move to Siargao?My Profile

  • Clark @ Mobbo Blog

    04.07.2016 at 07:36 Reply

    Perfect read! This is just how I like to travel. Thank you for making my thoughts things. Bookmarked & Cheers to the wandering spirit!

    • Serendipity Tess

      24.07.2016 at 11:58 Reply

      Thank you Clark for stopping by! 🙂 Cheers to the wandering spirit indeed 🙂

  • Glen Main

    27.08.2016 at 11:45 Reply

    I agree with you 100%. Sometimes the only way to know you can do something is to just do it. Great to hear that you were able to conquer this fear and the only thing left to do is see the rest of the world. Cheers!
    Glen Main recently posted…Welcome to Napa ToursMy Profile

    • Serendipity Tess

      04.09.2016 at 23:56 Reply

      Thanks Glen for leaving such a lovely and thoughtful comment 🙂

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