It is now 3 weeks out from Vietnam and I have a confession to make. I am a travel blogger with a fear of flying. Now this fear is more than just general apprehension but about a month or so before I have to fly I start freaking out. I have dreams about the flight, I research the airline and make sure they’re safe, I look at the flight plan because flying over water super scares me.
I’ve always been afraid of heights. As a kid I used to be super freaked out by driving over bridges but oddly had no problems on flights. With age I started to get a bit more nervous flying but nothing that I would call a phobia. That was until a flight back from Dallas about 3 years ago we had outrageous turbulence. I was coming back from Orlando and had been to Disneyworld and Universal Studios and this was the scariest ride I was on. The plane dropped continuously for 5 hours, enough to cause that falling feeling in your stomach. I actually started crying I was so afraid. So that is where this fear started.
When I got back I had a visit with my best friend and told her all about this and she told me about an awful flight from Maui she had that was the same. Her fiancee, who is actually a pilot, told her not to worry because water landings are nearly impossible and if the plane went down they were almost guaranteed to die. This was supposed to comfort her, and she told it to me to comfort me. Shockingly this did not help and now I am just extra scared when flying over water, a great thing since we go to Hawaii every other year and its 7 hours over ocean.
This photo betrays my horror that I am in the air and that is how far land is.
Now that I have confessed hopefully I can share some tips for others who have a fear of flying.
1. The one thing that has helped me the most is going through the take off and in flight experience in my head. Getting ready for the sounds and everything that usually makes me nervous and just preparing for it. Sometimes I will even watch take off videos online just to get situated for whats ahead and how normal it is.
2. On the plane I’ve found a colouring book works wonders in keeping my mind off the fear. There’s something about the mindfulness required that really works for me. It’s meditative and when flying I can’t always meditate since that means “being in the moment” and when I’m on a plane that is the last place I want to be.
3. If you can meditate that is awesome. Have a mantra, whatever it is, and just let it calm you. Focus on the destination. This very much is dependent on how severe your phobia is.
4. Passionflower extract. This is a natural sedative that my boss was giving to her dog with vertigo. She hated me talking about my fear of flying leading up to a work conference so she dosed me with it. This was my first flight after the terror flight and it was actually flying back to Dallas, the same place that the terror flight had come from. This stuff just let me deal, I could tell when I was nervous but I couldn’t actually seem to get concerned about it. The physiological response of the fear didn’t start. It honestly felt a bit like being high, just mellow.
5. Sleep, if you can. I cannot sleep on planes. My body does not like sitting and sleeping, it is wrong and won’t do it. We’ll see if I get over that on the 25 hour travel day to Vietnam. But sleep is the best way to travel on flights. I am so envious of people who just crash and it’s like they’re teleported to a new place. I spend the entire flight staring at them in jealousy and overanalyzing every sound.
6. Talking. Talking is the best to keep the nerves down. Especially if its with someone new who you don’t want to be a phobic lunatic in front of. I find that it distracts me because they’re so calm and my mind is put to other things.
7. Try and think logically. It is not black magic that keeps a plane in the air as much as it may feel that way. Plane travel is very safe. You’re more likely to get beaten up by airline personnel (whatup United) than to have anything go wrong. There are backups to everything and backups to the backups.
Hopefully one of these tips helps my fellow phobic flyers. I would hate if there was someone who was limited in what they could do by a fear. Now let’s get over this and go on some adventures!
Now imagine the end scene of the Breakfast Club right here. Fists in the air. Living our lives.