For some people, the idea of relaxing on a plane can seem impossible. How can you relax when you’re hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet above the Earth? But there are steps you can take, both physically and mentally, to turn a plane ride from a white-knuckle experience into a pleasant one—or at least one that’s no more than mildly uncomfortable.
Start by learning as much as you can about how planes work. Many times the discomfort of flying comes from the unfamiliar sensations. You may find a measure of calm by studying the plane’s systems, the conditions that cause turbulence, the causes of the sounds you find frightening, and maybe most importantly, the many design features that allow planes to continue to fly, even if something goes wrong. You can also trust in the training and experience of the professionals in charge of the flight.
Mental tricks can help you relax during your flight as well. Some people benefit after familiarizing themselves with the imagery they’ll see by putting a photo of a plane interior in a prominent place before their flight. Others find something to lose themselves in while in the air, like a good book or a movie, or thoughts about something that’s important to them. You can also try to slip away from the experience physically, by wrapping yourself in comfortable blankets and using earplugs and eye masks to block out the sensations of plane travel.
Alternatively, you may be able to relax a little more by turning to the people around you for support. Traveling with a helpful companion or loved one can make a big difference. Some people also feel more relaxed after getting to know the crew of the plane a little bit. Airline crews are often busy, but if you have time to chat with the flight attendants or the pilot while waiting at the gate, you may find that your impression of the flight changes in a positive way.