A.B. asks from Castella, CA on March 30, 2009
Fear of Flying
Hi Moms! I am planning a trip out to Ohio (where my family lives) in May and am already having anxiety about the flight. It will just be me and my 2 kids going, but I'm not really nervous about traveling alone with the kids, I am extremely nervous about flying in general. I have flown over a dozen times and it seems like I am getting worse every time. I guess my biggest fear is falling out of the sky and having that feeling of your stomach in your throat during turbulence. I would rather spend 36 hours in a car than 6 hours on a plane. It seems to go in stages, too. Some times I will think about flying and be just fine and then there's other times (like right now) that my heart starts racing and I actually can't even sleep. Does anyone have any good advice on how I can get over this anxiety? I don't want to take any meds. because I will be traveling alone with the kids and don't want to be out of it. Sometimes it gets so bad, I would rather not go at all. thanks for the help.
L.A. answers from Sacramento on March 31, 2009
Since your trip is not until may you have plenty of time to talk to your doctor about this. Ask for a prescription of Valium. Take one while at home first to make sure the effects are tolerable and you are able to take care of the children while using this medication. I know you said you did not want to take anything but I can tell you from experience that this is the only way and the only medication that has worked for me. My fear for you going the route of hypnosis and other types of herbal remedies for this trip is that it may seem like it might work, but you won't really know until you are actually on the airplane and that would be too late if it does not work. I'm sure you can't take experimental trips before hand to see what works!
But this is what has worked for me; After you board the plane with your kids and before take off, talk to the flight attendant and tell them that you have taken a prescribed Valium for your anxiety of flying. They are very good about passengers who have these types of fears. In fact they have training on how to deal with us types! LOL They will pay extra close attention to you and your kids during the flight. This is what I have done and it really took ALL the anxiety and most of the fear away. Depending on the strength of the prescription and how your system handles it you should do fine with only one pill. If your doctor prescribes a very low strength you might have to take one and a half (as I did) But again experiment at home first either after the kids have gone to bed or when someone can be with you.
Good luck and have fun,
P.S. On my last flight after telling the flight attendant about my fears of flying she took me and my son to first class! They had the extra room and it really made a huge difference.
M.B. answers from San Francisco on March 31, 2009
I am the same as you but I have learned to pray and then after you pray ask for the peace and faith the prayers will work. If not you will spend the whole trip praying but I read that you also must have faith as well. I am no religious fanatic either but this is what I pray right when I get to the airport (in my head that is):
Dear Father, thank you for allowing us to go on this trip together. Please bless every inch of this plane. Please bless the plane from the time the mechanics check it until we arrive safely to our destination. Please make sure that every hand that touches this plane is constantly checking for safety. Please bless the pilot and crew and make sure they are alert and able to handle every situation. Lord just guide this plane safely to its destination, including take-off, mid flight and landing. Lord please bless that there isn't much by way of turbulance and that the pilot can safely maneuver through any turbulance. And Lord bond together all of the prayers from other people on this plane and if I happen to be the only one praying please let my prayers be strong enough for everyone on the plane. Lastly, please give me peace on this flight so I am able to enjoy my children and let me know that you are taking care of us on this flight and that I completely have faith that you are guiding us to safety. I pray of this in your name. Amen
When I get on the plane, I give my children something to do right before the plane takes off, then I read a magazine until the plane is in the air. Then I relax. I am praying a prayer that this works for you. It gets easier the more you fly. I know this nothing fancy and I don't quote any scriptures, but this has worked for me!
J.R. answers from San Francisco on March 31, 2009
A. - I totally understand your anxiety, as I'm sure others do - it's so common! I think it'd be helpful if you talked a lot to the kids on the plane, explaining things, playing games, etc. Start planning things you can do/play now. Talking REALLY helps. So does knowledge - read up on the normal processes that planes go through when taking off, leveling and then landing - that will make you feel more comfortable and you can use it as a learning experience for your kids. Also think about how incredibly proud of yourself you'll be when you get back home - plan a little reward for yourself, like a new pair of shoes :) Good luck!
P.W. answers from San Francisco on March 30, 2009
I had it really bad after 9/11, so bad that I actually took a BUS to New York City!! from the West Coast. I realized on the bus trip (especially when a sort-of drugged-out and exhausted bus driver kept opening and closing the window all night to keep himself awake) that I was probably more likely to die on that bus.
When I actually had to fly a year later, I took some anxiety meds before and during, and it made ALL the difference. I was fully functional, but felt kind of warm and fuzzy, and having that feeling during flying actually re-edited my mental "tape" about flying and mostly erased the fear.
Meds might be helpful, I think the one I took was Serax. You might want to consider it.
But I'll sure be glad when my daughter's plane lands today on her return flight from Spain. :)
P.M. answers from San Francisco on March 31, 2009
I suffer from flight phobia as well. And I am using a medicine for it. It's an anti-anxiety pill and it simply prevents the fight-or-flight symptoms. It does not make me sleepy or results in a decline in cognitive ability, so I can take care of my children during 10+ hr of flights without any problem.
You can ask your physician about it.
B.G. answers from San Francisco on March 31, 2009
I too have a terrible fear of flying. I am at the worst the first five minutes and then any time there is turbulance. I think a prescription to either Valium or xanas is safe, especially if you have tried a "trial run" before getting on a plane with it.
Neither medication, taken as prescribed, makes you "out of it". The dosage for someone with anxeity associated with flying is very low, and as long as you do not drink alcohol while taking it, the effect is extremely mild. So mild, the only side affect is a lack of anxiety.
I have learned to fly without it (you cannot take while pregnant and I'm not sure of the effect while nursing) but if the option exists, I would much rather fly with it, than with out it.
you could also try homeopathics, such as Calms Forte, or Rescue Remedy. Sometimes people have attested to these over the counter natural remedies as well.
N.P. answers from San Francisco on March 31, 2009
I don't have a fear of flying in general but the stress of flying with kids is just too much for me. Some things just aren't worth it. You have to think about if the trip is really worth the stress and make a decision on whether or not to go. If the thought of passing up the trip brings you instant relief then by all means, tell your family that you won’t be able to attend.
I've passed up on weddings that were on the other side of the country just because I don't want to travel with a two year old and all her stuff just to have her not fall asleep at night because we're in a strange place and then spend the next day exhausted with a fussy toddler, most likely having to leave the wedding because she is misbehaving and ruining the ceremony. The financial and emotional expense just wasn’t worth it to me so I respectfully declined to attend.
I figure when my kid is more independent and doesn’t require so much junk to travel with her, will flying somewhere be worth it. I think the only way I'd get on a plane to fly with young kids is if someone were dying. Even then I'd try and find someone to babysit and I'd go by myself.
If you have an option to drive, and the stress of flying is just tying you up in knots, take more time and make a road trip of it. Plan out stops on the way and make it fun! At least when you're on the road and the kids get fussy you can pull over. If I had the cash I'd rent an RV for extra road trip fun!
S.M. answers from San Francisco on March 31, 2009
Hi - wow, you already have so many suggestions and responses. I am very afraid of flying. I decided rather than stay home, we (me, kids and husband) are going to take the amtrack train back east. Our first stop will be Chicago. If it is a good option for you, check it out.
Have a good vacation.