4 Tips for Airplane Sickness/Anxiety

"Qantas never crashed"

Despite my intense fear of flying, I have traveled thirty-one times by airplane in my young life.  After my first few terrible experiences with motion sickness, flying quickly became my most-hated experience in life.  For a few years I just refused to fly.  But then, feeling like I was going to miss out on some fun experiences, I decided to find a way to make it through the ordeal.  If you are like me, here is my very first piece of advice:

1.  Take Dymenhydrinate (Dramamine).  I tried every natural option (homeopathic, ginger, seabands, etc.) before I went to the hard stuff.  Dymenhydrinate completely eliminates my nausea.  I used to wonder if the anxiety of flying was affecting my stomach, but it isn’t.  The first time I tried Dymenhydrinate I went through very rough turbulence and was clinging to my arm rests in panic but in the back of my mind I thought “Hmm!  No nausea!”  The only side effect it seems to have is making me slightly sleepy.  I am one who tries to avoid medication at all costs, but sometimes it’s worth it, if you really need it.  And, I think, once or twice a year isn’t going to kill me. 

p.s. Meclizine (Bonine) may work for some people, but I tried it and it made me feel drunk for a full day, plus I still had nausea!   

That doesn’t take care of the anxiety of flying, the cramped cabin, the non-fresh air, etc.  But here are the other “drugs” on my flying checklist:

2.  Bring something (or someone) that makes you laugh.  My best flight ever was when I traveled with my sister Rachel (who is the funniest comedian I know) sitting next to me pretending to be an obnoxious person constantly beeping the attendant.  I laughed my way through take-off without feeling a hint of anxiety. 

I’ve found that the best thing is to listen to comedians because they are attempting to make you laugh every minute.  Even if I don’t think everything they say is funny, once I start the giggles it’s hard to stop them.    Here are some items I’ve brought along to keep me laughing: 

Ray Romano:  I didn’t know anything about this comedian but I blindly tried this on a plane ride to Arizona and it kept me laughing out loud the whole time.  He jokes a lot about relationships.  We have Ray Romano Live at Carnegie Hall.    

Jim Gaffigan:  I think this guy is hilarious!  Much of his humor is about food and overreating.  We have Doing My Time.  We also have two of his stand-up DVDs if you bring along your laptop on the plane:  King Baby and Beyond the Pale.    

Chris Rock:  He does a lot of political and cultural commentary that is really funny.  I recommend  Never Scared.  and  Cheese & Crackers: Greatest Bits. 

Jerry Seinfeld: How can you not love Jerry?  He has a pretty family-friendly social commentary in I’m Telling You for the Last Time.   

Bill Cosby:  The King of Comedy, I’m sure you all agree.  Sometimes stand-up is so contemporary that after a few years it seems very dated.  Bill Cosby somehow transcends time (for the most part).  We have lots to choose from:

Note:  These are all only for adults.  Some of the comedians are slightly more family-friendly than others, but none are, what I would call, completely “clean”. 

3.  Try to get a seat right above the wings.  My grandfather-in-law is a retired pilot and he says this is the best place to sit to avoid the worst of the turbulence.  The wings are sort of the plane’s center of “gravity” where the pilot is controlling the movement, so the front and back of the plane are going to be moving up and down more than the middle. 

4.  Be as comfortable as possible:  comfy clothes, water (you’ll have to buy it after the checkpoint, they’ll confiscate anything in a bottle), snacks and chewing gum (cabin pressure is better than it used to be, but I still get a little popping in my ears).  

And, just for fun, check out a couple of these movies about fear of flying:

The quote I put on the airplane picture is from Rain Man (1988) where Dustin Hoffman’s character refuses to get on the plane.  This is how I feel in the airport too! 

In The Terminal (2004) Viktor (Tom Hanks) is stuck at JFK Airport for days due to red tape in both his home country and the U.S. 

Of course, the ridiculous & hilarious Airplane (1980).  Beware:  a few scenes are definitely not family-friendly! 

The Father Ted (1995) series is a hilarious britcom about three priests on Craggy Island in Ireland.  One episode has an airplane full of priests and it gets quite silly.  Note:  this is the same director as the IT Crowd, a staff favorite which we have highlighted in a few different blogs.

In French Kiss (1995) Meg Ryan’s character has a fear of flying and the only cure she finds is getting angry at the man sitting next to her. 

“Ladies & Gentlemen, the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign…”  

 Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at OWL and is currently humming the song Airplane by the Indigo Girls.