Coping with flying

I have a fear of flying and have sadly turned down some great opportunities to see the world and meet great people. Eventually I decided that the risks paled in comparison to the regret I would have in later years.

I started off quite enjoying flying, my first flight was in 1996 from Bristol to Ghana (6.5hrs) via Amsterdam (1hr).

After that I did the USA (6hrs) and Canada (7.5hrs). Then I had a shocking flight returning from the Caribbean and decided a white-knuckle ride wasn’t my thing.

so I then turned down some amazing trips (so my family keep reminding me) to visit Portugal, New Zealand (twice) and some other spots.

I can’t pin point why I have this fear as I am a passenger in cars, bikes, trains, buses and all sorts of vehicles quite easily.

My brothers were going to Amsterdam and although I turned it down they booked me a seat anyway…. a short huff (under 1hr) they said with family would ease me back into the travel.

Needless to say I was petrified and drank like a fish as that’s what you’re supposed to right? (more on this later).

After surviving this I got brave and we went to Italy (2.5hrs) where I was just as scared.

I decided to list what I didn’t like and then investigate further – the result of which is now I am still scared but I can tolerate many of the things that trigger my fear. I thought i’d list them in the hope this brings some relief to others:

  • I struggle to sleep days before a flight – acknowledge little can be done but that you aren’t the only one laying awake thinking about it either
  • drown out the sound of other people, put some music on in the waiting room – somebody always has a bad plane story so just drown others out
  • the plane looks odd compared to others – stop looking at the darn thing, just follow the person in front. Do not look at the plane except maybe to glance at the pilot
  • take something to read as you can use this during take-off and it at least gives me a distraction from trying to look out the window
  • That large knock shortly after take-off is the sound of the wheels returning to the carriage – this used to freak me out so much
  • other people annoy me so listen to some music instead or watch a video
  • I accept that I will have highs and lows during the flight – i focus on my breathing and the reason that I am travelling
  • Talk to a pilot – within 1-3 people I bet you’ll know a pilot who will be happy to chat about the bits you hate the most
  • Drinking doesn’t help at all i just need to use the toilet more which involves getting up so i have ditched this method
  • those herbal things are useless

All of the above have helped me in the last 2-3 years cope with flights and these have evolved to allow me to fly to New Zealand, Asia and other part of Europe.

I am still a sweaty, grumpy mess but trust me the other end is worth the hassle. See you in the sky!



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