Travelling the World When You’re Terrified of Flying

I’ve basically talked myself into my fear of flying. I used to find the airport and the flight to be such an adventure and nearly as exciting as the trip itself, but a few bouts of turbulence and some rough landings have left me shaken up. ‘But, you have more chance of dying in a car crash on your way to the airport than on the plane’, I hear you say? Zzzzz, please. If you’re scared of flying you’ll know rationalisation doesn’t help – here are my five tips for surviving flights (there’s just no way around them I’m afraid)…

1) Don’t sit at the back
I thought this may have been in my head, but a cabin crew member confirmed it for me – if you sit near the back of the plane then you experience way more turbulence than those in the front. I’m not sure exactly why this is, and if I think about it too much it makes me feel a bit queasy. So make sure you complete the online check in ASAP so you can choose seats at the front for a smoother ride.

2) Don’t forget your headphones
A necessity on any journey, but especially useful for drowning out engine noise on the plane. I freak out at every totally normal change in sound or volume – if the engine revs I’m convinced there’s a problem, if the noise dies down I think the engine’s cut out and we’re about to drop from the sky (once again, this is worse when sat at the back). Much easier to just turn the volume up and pretend it’s not happening…

3) Distract yourself with something light
If you can’t sleep, watching something (nothing heavy!!) is really the best way of passing time. I watched half a series of Friends on a flight home from Qatar which kept me laughing and took my mind off things a bit. I also watched a lot of Planet Earth as there’s no sound quite as calming as David Attenborough’s voice. Most long haul flights have decent viewing options, but for shorter flights you could always prepare by downloading some funny podcasts in advance.

4) Bug the cabin crew
My boyfriend gets so fed up with me doing this, but it’s literally their job to make you feel comfortable, and they’re more than happy to do so, so keep chatting to them if it makes you feel better. I get their attention to ask about every bump, sound, or seatbelt warning – I already know it’s nothing to worry about, but it’s a lot more reassuring coming from them. Just seeing how relaxed they are and knowing they’ve experienced every wobble 1000 times chills me out a bit.

5) Just get drunk!
If all else fails, this is my most foolproof method, though perhaps not the most responsible. If you’re on a long haul flight with free food and drink, be sure to take full advantage! On my flight home from Bali, I was ordering two vodkas at a time to try and send myself to sleep, I have no shame (I also downed three cans of lager at the airport shop before boarding, classy). I still didn’t manage to sleep once over the whole 18 hours of flying, I’m so envious of these people who can sleep anywhere?! But it definitely worked to take the edge off my nerves…

Do you have any tips to get over flying anxiety? Please let me know!

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