Thursday, August 22, 2013

Scared of flying? So am I but I got some advice

I have a confession to make: I'm scared of flying. Read TERRIBLY scared of flying, which doesn't come very handy when you come from a small island at least a two hour flight away from continental Europe. The first time I boarded on a plane I was barely two months old and I really used to enjoy flying when I was a child. I even have fond memories of the tasteless meals I was served on planes. But as grew up so did my flying phobia and the moment the airplane close its doors I start getting anxious, almost panicking. People usually tell me in a very casual way that flying is safe, the safest mode of transportation actually, but that doesn't help. Fear is something irrational and as much as people might try to explain you the reasons and facts why you shouldn't be afraid, the fear monster won't let them sink in and you'll remain as scared as you were before. Unless you come up with a few reasons yourself to conquer your fears. Being afraid to fly has never prevented me from flying and over the years I've developed my own strategy to relax while on a plane. Most of the time I'm fine and sometimes I even enjoy myself up in the air as I did when I was a careless seven year old girl. Until there's the slightest movement, that's it. Then I find myself gripped to my seat, clenching my teeth and on the verge of crying. But as I said, most of the time I'm fine. So if you need some advice to help you enjoy the terrifying experience of flying, take it from me.

Sleep, sleep, sleep: this is probably the most simple tip I could give you but it works wonders ... if you're the kind of person who can sleep no matter where or when. I usually manage to sleep at least a couple of hours on a plane. If it is an early flight I simply close my eyes as soon as I sit down and it doesn't take me a long time to slip into slumberland. Otherwise, I turn on my iPod mid-flight, plug in my earphones and let the music lullaby me.

Read, read, read: even if you manage to sleep a couple of hours, that won't usually cover a long-haul flight - not even a five hours flight - so having something to read will always take your mind away from any worries you might have. I always buy some magazine, light to carry and packed with images, as I rather flick through the pages and get some fashion inspiration than diving into the pages of some dense read. Also, I usually carry a destination guide with me to read a bit about the place I'm going, even if I've been there before.

Visualize the happy ending: especially during the take-off I tend to close my eyes and picture the airplane landing safely. I also think of all the fun things I'll do during my holidays or when back at home and try to anticipate the joy. I see myself swimming in the ocean, giving hugs and enjoying the food I haven't tasted for a while. And as I usually have a travel guide, I read it during the flight and make a mental list of all the places I'd like to visit and try to imagine them.

Learn how aircrafts work: I was once sat beside a guy who was passionate about aircrafts and aviation. He had taken many courses on aircrafts dynamics and how motors and turbines work (all that technical stuff, you know) and he was more than chatty so he didn't stop talking for five hours. He would explain  every sound or movement the plane did and while that made me nervous at first, I've eventually realized that knowing what's going on around me helps to control my anxiety. Now I listen and know that the plane is still speeding off to get to a higher altitude or braking to maintain its speed when up above.

Realize that it isn't called an accident for nothing: seldom, an unfortunate event that wasn't bound to happen occurs, though most of the time it doesn't. Or as the mathematical geek in me would say, landing safe is an event with probability one - which means that it will ALWAYS happen - though some time it might not happen because of the Law of Big Numbers. Whichever way you shape it, what it all means is that flying is safe, and statistically proven to be the safest mean of transportation. But wait, isn't that what everyone says? Yes, but while someone's empty line might not help, you can always find the right words for you and rephrase them in a way that will work for you. Then make it your mantra and repeat it as you fly safely.

I hope all this advice helps. I just got to Tenerife a couple of days ago and the first thing I did in the evening was going for a swim. And it felt so good!
Do you love or loathe flying? Any advice to make flying a more enjoyable experience?
Safe flights and happy travels!
Have a lovely Thursday!


  1. Even after being a crew member on military aircraft for a few years, I still have some anxiety when flying. I rely on deep breathing and falling back on my knowledge of the physics of flight to keep me calm. Your techniques are all great. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Wow, I've always thought that aircrew members would have it a lot easier and always made the assumption that people who choose a profession on board of an aircraft is because they're fearless and enjoy flying. Thanks for sharing your story and tips :)

  2. I am the same as you- such a curse when I love to travel! I can definitely say that education about flight has helped me the most.

    Also, this free website changed my life:

    My phrase is "the plane is happiest in the sky, it is where it is meant to be." When I picture the plane resting on air as a solid (as opposed to emptiness)it helps a lot.

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. i've never had a problem flying, because i've traveled extensively (within the US) literally since i was a baby. hahaha my uncle was a pilot, so we traveled to Florida and other states a lot. i've never flown internationally (which is a lot longer flight), but I don't think I would have a problem with that either. however, i can understand how you feel and have had friends like that. it's important to wear comfortable & loose clothing, stay hydrated, eat light and bring magazines/books or something to occupy your time. that's what I would suggest. this was a really good post.

    1. Oh, lucky you, Kim, to enjoy the delights of flying! I've never flown overseas and my longest flight so far is only five hours. But I'm always daydreaming of traveling to far destinations and wondering how it must be like to be in an airplane for half a day or more ...
      Thanks for all the great tips :)

  4. Good tips. I used to be terrified of flying but we did it so often, I got used to it. I usually sleep and read most of the time! And the free drinks help too. :)

  5. Lo confieso...a mí tmb me da cada vez más miedo volar. Recuerdo la ilusión que tenía la primera vez que viajé en avión y en los siguientes viajes pero ahora esa sensación se ha convertido en angustia. Será la edad?Yo lo intento paliar con un buen libro mientras vuelo. Bss, Irene.
    No te preocupes ; estoy segura de que va a merecer la pena.Te espera tu tierra!!

    1. jajaja me alegro de no ser la única! Yo tuve un par de años en los que lo pasaba fatal pero ahora se ha normalizado un poco. Claro, que en los dos últimos años he volado lo mínimo posible. Y si no voy durmiendo intento entretenerme con alguna revista :)
      Que pases un buen finde!

  6. I actually love flying but feel guilty doing it because of the pollution. I try to travel by train as much as possible!
    Thanks for commenting on my blog :-)

    1. I also try to travel by train whenever I can and I really like it! I know that planes are one of the biggest polluters and feel guilty about it but at the same time I tell myself that the plane is scheduled to fly anyways, so I'm not sure whether skipping a plane or two really makes a big difference ...

  7. I can't imagine, it must be difficult to have this fear especially when gifted with a passion for traveling. I hope the love to discover a new place will triumph over this fear. I love flying, especially that moment when the plane jerks upwards upon take off.

  8. hehe that's actually the scariest moment for me. So far, I have never stopped flying because of my phobia and I think the more I fly the easier it gets. But in the last couple of years I have flown only a couple of times per year so I almost forget how it feels to be up in the air from one flight to the next one.


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