Let me start by saying I love going to new places and seeing the world… but what I don’t love is having to fly to get there! Which is a bit of a problem really, isn’t it?! Love exploring, hate flying! But I try not to let it stop me travelling… after all I wouldn’t be much of a travel blogger if I didn’t travel, would I?! So, what do I do to try and keep my fear under control… well I have a few methods which I find help me:
Understand what is going on
Over the years I have tried to read about flying and understand why/how it works… and, more importantly, why does the plane sometimes make sudden noises that make me jump and grip the seat arm, for example. And I found a pretty good book a few years ago which I read before I go on a long flight… Flying Without Fear by Captain Keith Godfrey. It explains the sudden noises and movements the plane makes as well as the activities of the onboard crew. And I have found that this has really helped me to keep my fear under control.
Keep yourself occupied
I find keeping myself occupied – whether that is reading, watching a film, eating, etc – stops me over-thinking everything that happens. If I can keep myself occupied for most of the flight I definitely don’t worry so much about being thirty-odd thousand feet up in the air!
Try and relax
I know this one is not easy! I try and do some deep breathing when I get on the plane and whenever I start to feel the panic rising (which unfortunately often happens without warning). There is usually a relaxation channel available in the onboard entertainment system – give it a listen. If I can take control of my fear before it completely takes hold I can sometimes overcome it… but it doesn’t always work – sometimes it’s too late.
Watch what the crew are doing
If there was a serious problem with the plane the cabin crew would not be wandering through the cabin serving drinks or selling duty free, would they? I know this because when I was on an aeroplane and there was an issue the crew stopped the inflight service immediately and disappeared! Shortly afterwards there was an announcement and we made a speedy return to our departure airport (the back-up oxygen supply had failed and we were closer to our departure airport than our destination airport hence turning round and heading back). So if the crew are wandering through the cabin looking relaxed all is well…
If, like me, one of your main issues with flying is claustrophobia, try and book a seat with extra legroom (the relatively small cost involved makes this worthwhile for me). I find that having a little more space around me helps me to feel more relaxed. If you can, upgrade and get yourself a heap more space… I was lucky enough to travel back from New York in 1st class (we upgraded using airmiles) and it was the most relaxing flight I have ever taken. There is just so much more space and the cabin is vastly more relaxing – largely because there are fewer passengers crammed into a similar amount of space as there are in economy. Obviously, this is not always feasible due to the high cost of upgrading, but I find this really helps me enjoy a flight (well, almost!).
Similarly, I like to have a window seat if possible. Looking out of the window and seeing the ground below me is reassuring somehow (this makes no sense, I know)… I struggle more with flying at night when I can’t see anything outside.
Hmmm, this is a tricky one! Some people swear by having a couple of drinks to ‘steady their nerves’ before getting on a plane. Personally, I prefer to avoid it on longer flights as, if not, I tend to find I get really dehydrated which makes me feel even worse… imagine having a panic attack and a hangover simultaneously and that is how it feels!
Finally… If your phobia is more extreme, it may be time to visit your doctor or check out some of the ‘fear of flying’ courses on offer. Several people I know have done courses and have found them extremely helpful… I’ve thought about it and maybe before I tackle a REALLY long flight I will do one… I’ll let you know all about it if I do!
To be honest, I am usually ok on short flights – I struggle with anything over around 4 hours. Unfortunately, as I said before, my main issue is claustrophobia and I am yet to conquer that fear. But I’m hopeful that I will one day soon! We have family who have just moved out to New Zealand and we would love to go and visit them but, at the moment, I don’t feel I could manage such a long flight… but I will one day I’m sure!
Are you a nervous flyer or do you enjoy it? Any advice for this of us who struggle in the air?