Airports, amirite? Magical places full of love, hope, and dreams unlived.
Let me be clear. I am talking about everything that happens A.S.—After Security. Until everyone has passed this point, it is a shit show across the board, and Ill be the first one to admit that anyone, ANYONE who gets in my way should prepare themselves. But afterwards. Afterwards. After you walk through the metal detector, (probs beeping), sweat as you get your belt back on, (and wonder why you wore a belt to begin with), you zip your bag of liquids back in your bag and look up. You made it. You breeze through the end of the line of the hellish purgatory that is Airport Security, put on all your metal jewelry, and in what feels like slow motion, waltz into the Duty Free shop. You spritz yourself with eight perfumes and put 100 euros creams on every part of your face, grabbing a mini bottle of alcohol on the way out, (precautions). Ok, maybe you don’t do that. But it can’t just be me. Moving on.
Once you get through security, airports just have a feeling about them. There is a certain happiness, perhaps hopefulness, no matter where people are going. A big meeting for their company, visiting a new and exotic city, or going home to the ones they love.
Apologies for my nostalgic musings. I am half-drunk on a plane to Stockholm (see tip #6) and am trying to get my mind off of this slightly annoying jostling happening. Thanks, air pockets.
I have been a semi-frequent traveler since about the age of ten. I remember going on my first “long” flight to Hawaii, and how freaking COOL I thought it was when the plane was bumpin’ around and giving me that “dipsy-doosy” feeling in my stomach. Flash to eighteen years and literally hundreds of plane rides later and here I am: drinking profusely and clenching my teeth as my pulse does its best to jump through my neck. Here it is, folks. True traveller’s confession:
I absolutely hate flying.
The only thing I hate more than flying is the fact that I hate flying. I live nearly 5,000 miles from my family. Discovering new places is my primary goal at the moment and I travel almost every other weekend. But more than all of this, I used to love it! I loved breezing into an airport all important-like and jetting off to a new place every chance I could. But I don’t know what it is, perhaps more than anything it is the awareness you gain as you get older of all the terrible, and usually highly unlikely, shit that can happen to you. All of the sudden flying on a 3oo ton metal flying machine doesn’t sound so fun. Now, I should preface this by saying I am still afraid of flying. Turbulence get me SHOOK (literally) errytime I fly. But these are the things that keep me sane as I imagine my firey end and check out who is going to be next to me and if they would be willing to hold my hand.
1.Listen to your pilot and flight attendants.
This is for real. Don’t tune out your pilot at the beginning of the flight. They will usually lay out how the flight is going to be and let you know if it is going to be bumpy at the beginning, middle, end, or PANIC MODE—the whole way. Yes, it sucks to find out that there will be turbulence but its nice to be prepared instead of thrown off the toilet mid-air. The best pilots will explain any unexpected turbulence right away, too. Oh, and those flight attendants? They have seen it all, so strike up conversation with them. “Is this turbulence normal? What’s the worst you’ve seen?” Before you know it you will be chatting, forgetting the turbulence, and feeling like a total noob for even worrying about it in the first place. (This hasn’t happened to me…)
2. Remember the rule of five
I read this on the app that I’ll talk about later, but when turbulence jolts you, try listing things you notice with your five senses. Think about sight—what do you see? Think about five things you see and say them in your head. Then think about five things you hear, touch, smell, etc. Do another round and this time do four. Continue until necessary. The idea here is to focus on things that have nothing to do with the plane or the flight necessarily and can take your focus off of the bumping around the clouds.
3. Look at the horizon
This one really, really helps me. Even if you aren’t next to a window, just gaze at the horizon line. The plane can jump around but the horizon will always stay steady. Try not to look at the wings. They can handle a shit ton of G-force but they still wobble around every once in awhile.
4. Be someone’s rock
I don’t think anything helps me as much as this does. Over the past few years I’ve developed this annoying and incredibly inconvenient phobia, and my boyfriend has had to take the brunt of it. Poor kid was terrified of flying for years and is only now just getting over it so we are kind of at opposite ends of the spectrum. But one of the most eye opening moments I had was on a flight we took to Lyon that was bumpy AF and people were screaming, the whole nine. Pepelu was trying to be chill with his music and I was just shivering beside him and tearing up. Eventually he said, “ME CAGO EN TODO, PARA YA”. (JESUS CHRIST, STOP IT) This let me know, ever-so-subtly, that he was also freaking out and needed someone to be his rock. Let me tell you, I have never been so calm.
5. Laugh it off
Download some eps of your favorite show to help you laugh it off. On this same Lyon flight I was sitting next to an Argentinian guy who told me about a flight with terrible turbulence—the airline lowered the TVs and started showing funny memes and videos…and pretty soon people were laughing it all off.
6. Do a bit of pre-flight drinking.
I’m not talking about drinking to the point of not being able to find your gate, but having a pre-flight drink or two will relax you a bit and who knows, maybe you’ll even strike up a convo with a fellow flyer. The most interesting people are in airports.
7. Stock up.
This all depends on your airport but I can vouch for Spain on this for sure. Stock the hell up on tiny bottles of wine at the duty free gift shops. They will cost you 2.50 at the duty free shops. TWO FIFTY. The last time I flew out of Chicago I asked how much a glass of wine was and nearly hit the floor when they told me it was fourteen dollars. FOUR-TEEN DOLL HAIRS. Insider tip: drink sneakily on the plane from your own stash. You are technically not allowed to drink your own alcohol. But, you gotta do what you gotta do.
8. Download an app
I recently downloaded the app SOAR and it has some really helpful tools. It has a turbulence tracker, helpful mindfulness tips, and a lot of purchasable videos to teach you about how safe airplanes and flying really is. There is also the “Am I Going Down?” app, which calculates how many years you would have to fly the same flight you’re flying to “expect” it to go down.
9. Take comfort in the statistics
Never forget that flying is the safest mode of transport there is. There is about a 1 in 3.5 billion chance you will die in a plane crash. Walking out your front door is more dangerous, hands down. The reality is that turbulence is a totally natural and in most cases predictable side effect of traveling through the air. But we are afraid, or at the very least, uneasy about it because we don’t understand it and can’t control it or how the airplane reacts to it. But the pilots do and are very well trained to lessen the impact of turbulence when it happens. And BONUS! There is a possibility that we won’t even have to worry about turbulence in the near future due to laser technology that could zap air pockets before we reach them.
*Leaves to go worry about lasers on airplanes*
All great tips aside—I still board every plane and look at the person next to me to assess if they are hand-holding material if this all goes to hell. You know what they say about old habits. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Are you a frequent flyer that is still scared of flying? How do you cope? Please share your tips in the comments below!
2 thoughts on “Get over your fear of long haul flights”
Great read! I struggled with the same issue after a few scary experiences while flying (I became super anxious the day before my flights and always got nauseous while flying because I was psyching myself out)…finally after a few months of this I decided to say “f*ck it!” – I like traveling too much to deal with all that stress. Also drinking before flying helps. haha
Girrrrrll yes. Love my mini wine bottles!