I'm a Nervous Flier, and These 9 Products Ease My Flight Anxiety

Keeping my carry-on stocked with these comforting items has made flying more enjoyable.

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sanitizer, vitamins, charger
Courtesy of Amazon/Mega Babe Beauty

I've been traveling on airplanes since the age of 2, and yet I'd still categorize myself as a nervous flier. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I have a fear of flying — though I still can't quite find peace in the concept of traveling in a tin can thousands of miles up in the sky — but there's always been something about airplanes that makes me feel claustrophobic, which tends to bring on a lot of anxiety and restlessness. Factor in turbulence and the rollercoaster of emotions that come with every takeoff and landing, and it's a lot to cope with.

Over the years, I've developed tons of in-flight superstitions and rituals, like boarding the plane right foot first, only sitting in the back-middle section, and always choosing the window seat, to ease my anxiety. Additionally, I also travel with a book or magazine and make sure to have loads of movies, music, podcasts, and shows downloaded on my phone. There are occasions where these suffice and help me have an enjoyable flight. But that's not to say it works for every flight. There could be an urgent-sounding "fasten your seatbelt" announcement, flight delays, a rowdy seatmate… the list goes on.

While anxiety never really goes away, I've found that keeping my carry-on stocked with comforting items has made a tremendous difference. After lots of trial and error, I've cultivated a range of wellness, tech, and beauty products that ease my nerves and make for a smoother ride. Below, check out my in-flight essentials for anxiety that I never travel without.

Imak Compression Eye Pillow

eye mask
Courtesy of Amazon

Due to my travel anxiety, I have a hard time falling asleep on planes. In the past, I've only been able to successfully doze off if I was sitting in a window seat. But even then, I'd never be able to really fall asleep because of the cabin lights. This compression eye pillow from Imak successfully blocks out light and encourages me to close my eyes without feeling like it's weighing me down. It's a little bulky when lying down, but when you're sitting upright on a plane, train, or car, it's perfect. Plus, the compression aspect alleviates headaches, which always manage to pop up on travel days.

To buy: amazon.com, $14

Goli Ashwagandha & Vitamin D Gummy

vitamins
Courtesy of Amazon

While on the topic of in-flight snoozes, I've found that taking an ashwagandha supplement is a helpful trick for sleeping on planes. The herb is renowned for its ability to reduce cortisol in the body, which makes it a popular calming aid. "It helps the body respond and adapt to stress," Dr. Dominic Burg, a research fellow in biological sciences at the University of Southampton, told Travel + Leisure. "The root extract of Ashwagandha can be taken as an herbal supplement to help relieve the symptoms of stress, relieve anxiety and it can help induce a calm, relaxing sleep."

These Goli gummies are delicious and have 300 milligrams of ashwagandha extract per serving (two gummies), which Dr. Burg says falls within the average dosage for the supplement. (Note: While ashwagandha is normally very well tolerated, Dr. Burg recommends following the serving size provided by the brand, as overconsumption can "start to cause side effects, the most common being an upset stomach.") Vitamin D is another key ingredient, which Dr. Burg notes is depleted when we are stressed. Though the gummies don't always make me fall asleep, I've noticed that they make my mind feel less anxious and my flight more enjoyable.

Pro tip: Dr. Burg suggests incorporating ashwagandha into your routine well before your flight to ensure its efficacy: "If people are anxious in the short term for an upcoming flight or stressful situation, then it is best to start taking ashwagandha a few weeks in advance to get the maximum benefit."

To buy: amazon.com, $36 for pack of 2

Evolvetogether KN95 Mask

navy face mask
Courtesy of Evolvetogether

Living in the midst of a global pandemic is anxiety-inducing enough, and traveling on a plane during one certainly doesn't help ease that nervousness. Making the switch from cloth masks to KN95s has made me feel safer on packed flights, but it was difficult to find one that fit my face and didn't fall down every time I tried to reach for my bag or painfully tug on my ears. I've had excellent luck with the celebrity-loved Evolvetogether KN95 masks, which have a six-ply construction, a double filtration system to block up to 95 percent of airborne particles and bacteria, and soft ear loops.

To buy: evolvetogether.com, $15 for pack of 5

Comrad Companions Ombre Knee-High Compression Socks

socks
Courtesy of Comrad Socks

I went through a period of time where my feet would swell on planes, and for a while I struggled to find a solution. My parents would urge me to wear their compression socks to boost circulation, and I would stubbornly resist. Finally, I tried them and they worked wonders, since I found that my feet swelled less while traveling. When it came time to buy my own pair, I wanted something that was high-performing and breathable without sacrificing style. These knee-high Comrad compression socks definitely check off all of the boxes. I also stocked up on the Ankle Compression Socks, which also offer arch support and have odor-wicking and pain-relieving properties.

To buy: comrad.com, $32

Megababe Squeaky Clean Hand Sanitizer

White and yellow bottle of hand sanitizer
Courtesy of Megababe

In light of the pandemic, I've been extra diligent about carrying hand sanitizer with me at all times. But for travel, I prefer one that won't take up space in my bag and doesn't have a leaky cap. Plus, I don't want it to be overdrying to the point of discomfort. Enter: the Megababe Squeaky Clean Hand Sanitizer. The FDA-approved formula kills 99.9 percent of germs using 60 percent alcohol. But its combination of hydrating sweet almond, marula, and geranium oils counteract the drying effects. And, it leaves behind a lovely lemony scent. I also carry the brand's Squeaky Clean Antibacterial Wipes in my bag so I can wipe down my seat, tray table, and window.

To buy: megababe.com, $6

CND Essentials Solar Oil Care Pen

solar pen
Courtesy of Ulta

My anxiety manifests itself in the form of nail-biting. When I'm home, I use cuticle oil to curb the urge to pick at my nails and soften the ridges. But the full-size one in my bathroom cabinet isn't exactly travel friendly because of its glass bottle and leaky top. For travel purposes, I keep a CND Essentials Solar Oil Care Pen in my toiletry bag to get ahead of my nail-biting. It's formulated with vitamin E and other conditioning oils to nourish, hydrate, and repair the cuticles. I like to use the ritual of applying it as a moment to find my center and do some deep breathing, which works on and off the plane. I also keep Glossier's super-hydrating and lovely smelling Hand Cream close by.

To buy: ulta.com, $13

Apple AirPods Pro

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Courtesy of Amazon

Every flight has that chatty seatmate, snoring passenger, or crying baby. Though these noisy occurrences are to be expected, I've found that they really exacerbate my anxiety. I recently upgraded to the Apple AirPods Pro for their noise cancelation abilities and boy, do they do it well. Having the world temporarily muted around me allows me to sleep more peacefully and enjoy my in-flight entertainment. Their silicone tapered tips stay snug in my ear, and I never have to worry about them falling out.

To buy: amazon.com, $190 (originally $249)

The Ginger People Gin Gins Chews

ginger chews
Courtesy of Amazon

Nausea is another unexpected in-flight symptom that I've experienced. These ginger chews have helped tremendously. They're made with 10 percent ginger and instantly soothe my upset tummy. Since they're chewy, they also come in handy when my ears pop during takeoff and landing. The ginger chews come individually wrapped, so I'll stash a few in my purse, toiletry bag, and carry-on to make sure I have access to one whenever I need it.

To buy: amazon.com, $15

Anker Portable Charger

power bank
Courtesy of Amazon

As I've mentioned before, having in-flight entertainment queued on my phone is a must for my anxiety. But, watching movies and shows for hours at a time really takes a toll on my battery, and I've spent many flights stressing over the decreasing percentage and if I'll have enough of a charge left to call an Uber. Several airlines have implemented USB outlets for in-seat charging, but for the ones that don't, I always make sure to have my Anker portable charger on hand. It takes less than five hours to fully recharge your phone or tablet, has a slim profile that fits easily in my purse, and instantly gives me peace of mind.

To buy: amazon.com, $22

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