We all have fears. Be of bugs (me) or spiders (me) or not having solid ground under my feet (also me), there are some fears we can face and some we just try to live with. But what happens when your fear directly impacts your work? Like a fear of flying, and you are…say… a travel blogger? After all, we travel for a living. Well, we found a few travel bloggers the world over who have that exact fear. Check out how they overcome that obstacle and their tips for fear of flying.
I was six weeks old when I took my first flight from New York City to Kingston, Jamaica. I remember is spending a lot of time during my childhood hopping on planes between Jamaica, New York City and South Florida. I took countless flights and collected multiple stamps on my first passport.
To celebrate my graduation from medical school, I went to Jamaica to relax and spend time with my family. On my return flight the captain announced we were flying through thunderstorms and may experience some turbulence. Some? Before I knew it the plane started shifting from side to side, the lights were flashing on and off, the oxygen masks had fallen down and dinner trays were sliding into the aisles. Flight attendants stepped over the trays, trying to get to their seats in the back of the plane. I promised God that if I returned home safely I would never need to fly again. We did make it home safely. I attended my graduation and became Dr. Nadeen White. I kept my promise to God for two years. I had developed a true fear of flying.
Initially, I tried relaxation techniques, taking Benadryl before a flight and having a drink during the flight, none of which worked. I finally shared my fear of flying with my doctor who prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. It allowed me to more effectively use my relaxation techniques and get on long flights to places such as Athens, Greece and a return trip to Hawaii. Over time, I have been able to take less or no medication. Do I still get nervous before flights? Yes. Do I instantly wake up with anxiety whenever we hit bad turbulence? Yes. Do I wear headphones or ear plugs to block out the sounds of the engines? Yes. Do I look around to see if anyone else is in a panic? Yes. But I refuse to let a fear of anything prevent me from seeing the world.
I’ve had an insane and irrational fear of flying ever since I first went on a plane. And the craziest thing is that I have no idea why! Just last year, I fly on a plane 16 times and I have never had any bad experiences to cause this fear. I’ve never experienced severe turbulence or scary landings. I know that my fear is all in my head and that’s all it is. However, I do blame the media just a little bit for all of their scaremongering.
If you do a quick Google search it will tell you all about how you can overcome your fear of flying and it will list a ton of classes you can take. What I do when I’m about to fly somewhere is actually very simple. First, I let the aircrew know as soon as I board the plane. They are always very understanding and will usually do everything they can to look after you, even if you’re not flying First Class! I also try to strike up a conversation with the people sitting next to me; this is what has helped me the most. I even had a girl offering to hold my hand once when I was scared! Besides that, all you need to do is just relax. Keep your mind occupied. Watch a film, read a book, do a crossword puzzle. Think positive thoughts and have a drink (but do not get drunk because that will have the opposite effect). You’ll be fine.
My fear of flying is rooted in a deep misunderstanding of physics. Whenever I’m hurtling through the air, miles above ground, all I can think about is “Holy crap I’m hurtling through air miles above ground, how is this even happening?!” I should have paid attention in science class. The fact that a 3,000-ton object can stay in the sky for 12+ hours will forever blow my mind (I won’t be signing up for space travel any time soon). With my feet firmly on solid ground, I can look at flying from afar and think, “Wow, that’s amazing.” It’s just when I need to get on a plane myself that the fear kicks in.
I get vivid nightmares during the nights leading up to a flight, so by the time I’m at the airport I’m usually sleep deprived and scared–not a great combination. The good news is, the anticipation is always worse than the actual flight. Once I’m settled in my seat, a complete sense of calm washes over me, and I try to enjoy the situation for what it is: A phenomenal product of human innovation (although it’d be nice if they could upgrade the air conditioning, already). Don’t get me wrong–I don’t sleep a wink and my heart drops every time there’s slight turbulence–but the important thing is, I ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ My fear is irrational, energy-sucking and terrifying, but I don’t let it hold me back from doing what I love most: travelling. I wish I had more pragmatic advice, like ‘read this book’ or ‘take this pill’ and your fear of flying will be gone forever. But sometimes you just have to look your fear straight in the face and confront it head on, nightmares and all. It’s always worth it when you arrive at your destination.
I am a frequent flyer, and I have been on numerous flights since I became a full-fledged traveler. “Fear of flying and you?” is what my friends and family ask me whenever I tell them stories about my nervous moments during the flights. I have been afraid of heights since childhood and actually it is this fear combined with sitting inside a flying object thousands of feet up in the air, that makes things worse for me every time I step on an airplane. Even in my “About Me” section on my blog, I’ve said “I am the guy who is sitting next to you holding on to the hand rest tight”. The slightest of turbulence makes me so nervous that I start praying to God. Recently I was on a domestic flight within India where I was praying for the entire two hours because it was a very bumpy ride due to bad weather.
Honestly, I am still searching for an effective way to cope with this fear. I’ve had different solutions in various flights, like writing a journal, watching a movie, making plans for my next destination, or thinking about that cute girl I met. The best solution I got was falling asleep and that happens only when I am really sleep deprived prior to boarding the plane. I’ve also noticed that sitting up straight without resting my back on the seat makes me less uncomfortable and I get less of those “I am going to crash now?” thoughts. Talking to a friendly co-passenger or traveling with a companion also helps me a bit. Once during the entire flight, I played with a cute kid seated with the couple next to me. Apart from that I can just say that my faith in God is strongest when I am flying. But these are just a few things what make me feel less uncomfortable during a flight. What I mean to say is, there is no fixed, sure-shot solution to these issues. I find my solutions in different forms or activities and that is what I would suggest to people out there who have a similar or any other fear. Find something that inspires and motivates you or makes you happy; this is true when dealing with any kind of fear. Find that something spontaneous that makes you cope with such situations. Last piece of advice: Stop watching documentaries on plane crashes.
My fear of flying is an anxious lack of control feeling I have while being up in the air. Of course I know that the pilot is much more suitable being in the cockpit than I am, but the irrational fear takes over and it can be hard to shake. Take off and the first 20 minutes or so is probably when I’m at my worst during a flight. Turbulence does make me feel uncomfortable but I take comfort in the fact that the flight attendants are usually still busy doing their duties and it doesn’t seem to phase them at all. I get sweaty palms, can be agitated and I can struggle to hold a conversation. The uneasy feelings can start up to 24 hours prior to a flight.
I am very organised and early when it comes to getting to the airport. At check-in, I always ask for a seat in the front section of the aircraft or the middle. I’ve found that staff are always very accommodating as soon as I mention that I don’t like flying and I’ve been allocated some great seats, even on low cost carriers, that would often come at a charge. Other things I do to help me on flights are wearing noise cancelling headphones, watch short comedy sitcoms or listening to an app which covers breathing exercises and meditation for relaxation. I also use a natural spray called Rescue Remedy. This may just have a placebo effect but I feel better for having it. I’ve read books on the workings of aircraft, but I’ve also watched too many episodes of Air Crash Investigation, so I am probably my own worst enemy. My love of travelling does help me push through, and I can still physically get on a plane, which I hope doesn’t ever change. Lastly, wine often helps, but not always appropriate on early morning flights.
Your Tips for Fear of Flying
How do you handle your fear of flying? Sound off in the comments to share tips for others who may have a similar affliction!