I’m Afraid of Flying Right Now. How Do I Fly Sober?

You might want to avoid traveling, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Maybe you are moving, or maybe you are part of an essential staff that needs to fly. Whatever the reason, you might no longer view flying as the safest way to travel. Fear of flying — and the health risks involved with flying today — can send your mind into a panic state.

Amid all of this, you need to look after your own health and recovery. You might be starting to justify that the only way you can endure this flight is by being drunk or high, but you also know that is not an option in recovery. Here’s what you need to know about preparing for a flight, and the things you can do to keep yourself safe and sober.

Be Prepared

The first step of embarking on any endeavor is to prepare. Whether you are flying for a company or booking yourself, it is recommended that you research the current policies of the airline. Find out what their safety protocol is and read reviews from travelers on how well they were executed.

Are they taking measures to refuse travelers who are unwell? Do they have spaced seating? Are they enforcing face masks and other ways to protect yourself? This kind of research will educate you to make a more informed decision, and could also help ease the anxiety of needing to travel.

On the Plane

While it might feel like you are trapped in close quarters with other travelers, there are ways that you can influence a healthier flight. Many health specialists suggest choosing a window seat, which places you further away from the aisle where foot traffic passes by. This little buffer can go a long way in protecting you from coming into physical contact with another passenger.

Next, bring your own sanitizer and wipes. While airlines reassure that they are following guidelines by cleaning air crafts more frequently, always assume it has not been cleaned. Wipe down your seat, tray, armrest, monitor — basically everything that you will be interacting with.

If you want to put more space between you and other passengers, consider upgrading. While a first-class seat might not be financially feasible, you can express your concerns to your employer and they might be understanding and honor your request. If you are flying by yourself, it still might be a good investment.

Air Quality

Most airplanes are outfitted with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particle Arrester) filter. This filtration system is said to eliminate 99.99% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria. Combine this with sitting by a window and your chances of breathing in unwanted bacteria will decrease.

Cabins are also very dry — because of this, your mucus membranes dry out which can decrease the effectiveness of your nose filtering out bacteria. One suggestion is to bring nasal spray with you. The nasal spray will help moisten your mucus membranes and have your natural bodily filtration system working at full capacity.

Stay Sober

You have learned by now that associating drugs and alcohol with overcoming fear has never and will never be a good idea. It does not work in the long run. If it is your health that you are worried about when flying, understand that being intoxicated and/or under the influence of drugs compromises your health greatly.

Because you are at a higher altitude, the effects of drinking and using drugs will hinder your ability to breathe, which will cause you to need to breathe quite frequently and more heavily. This not only impacts your cognitive performance but compromises your immune system by limiting the air and circulation your body needs to protect you against airborne bacteria.

Practice Safety

While there are likely to be safety measures enforced while traveling, you can never be too safe. Provide yourself with multiple masks and gloves, so you can refresh your line of defense before and after leaving the airport. Be sure the gloves are disposable so you won’t have to bring them home in a pocket with you.

Be mindful of the number of times you need to touch your face and avoid earbuds — your ear canal brings bacteria into your body and earbuds are often the overlooked culprit for why many get sick. Finally, pack light so you are not waiting in a crowded baggage area.

Use Common Sense

A little common sense will go a long way in protecting you. Don’t eat or drink anything offered to you by the airline. If you can avoid it, do not use the airplane restroom. Sanitize or wash your hands before handling any personal belongings. When you arrive at your destination, use your cleaning supplies to wipe down handles, switches, remotes, phones, and toilet seats.

If you are staying in a hotel, shower only. If you do not have access to a washer and dryer, try to keep your traveling clothes away from clean clothes — you can tie them up using a simple grocery bag to add a layer of defense. Always make sure your hands are clean when you put on and take off your mask.

Regulate Anxiety

In the days leading up to travel, your anxiety could be getting the best of you. This anxiety could interfere with your life and even lead to negative thoughts and behaviors. You want to exercise self-care at this time. Reach out to your doctor or therapist and talk through your stress.

If you are going on a work trip, talk to your employer and tell them your concerns about the upcoming flight. Is the flight absolutely necessary? Could there be some compromise so you don’t have to fly?

Your health and recovery should always come first. Not only will others need to be sensitive to your needs, but you need to listen to and be sensitive to your own needs as well.

If you have to travel but know it goes against your better judgment, you are likely feeling overwhelmed and perhaps incapable of managing other areas in your life. If you have considered using drugs or alcohol to combat these stresses, seek help immediately. True Recovery offers 24/7 support care and we are determined to get you through these trying times. To learn more, call us at (899) 366-6528.