The JJs List Blog

Tips for the Anxious Traveler

Posted by on February 18, 2020 - 1 Comment

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By Sarah Armour, Business Assistant

Travel by air can be very stressful for anyone, especially for people who have anxiety. Crowded airports, a lot of stimuli, not having control, and canceled flights, for example, can be overwhelming for someone with anxiety.

Even though I am an experienced flier who flies on my own, I am often nervous about flying and sometimes have a panic attack, especially when things don’t go as planned. On a recent trip from California, my flight was rerouted because of a maintenance issue. Instead of flying into LAX, which I’m familiar with, I had to fly into Denver. I had never been to Denver before and had to navigate this new airport. To make matters worse, the weather was snowy with only 1% visibility. Then, once I got on my flight to Chicago, I learned the plane needed to be de-iced.I felt trapped in my seat while we were stuck on the tarmac, which made me very anxious.

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I watched movies and took lots of deep breaths until we were up in the air. Once I was able to get up and move around, I felt much better.

There isn’t anything you can do to get rid of anxiety altogether, and there is nothing you can do to prevent a panic attack. However, there are some things you can do to deal with the fear that comes with anxiety. I want to share some of the strategies I use to de-escalate my anxiety. I hope you find them helpful:

  • Talk to the airlines: 
    • Let the airlines know if you are anxious about flying.
    • Let the flight attendants know what seat you are in and/or if you want their reassurance during the flight or not.
    • Ask for help.
  • Distract yourself: 

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    • Watch movies, listen to music or podcasts, or play a game on your phone. Make sure you download them before you leave home in case you don’t have access to Wi-Fi as you travel.
    • Read a book.
    • Work on crosswords or coloring books.
  • Breath and Meditate:

    Sarah Armour

    • Let your panic attack pass without judgement.
    • Practice diaphragmatic breathing to help calm your body down. This means taking deep breaths in and out using your diaphragm.
    • Download meditation apps, like Insight Timer or Calm on your phone before you travel. These can help ground you and focus on your center.


1 Comment

Sharon Purdy says:
Mar 03, 2020

Thanks for sharing these helpful ideas, Sarah. Your experiences can help the many of us who get anxious in airports and on planes.

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