Once upon a time ago, I boarded a flight to Panama balling my eyes out! I hadn’t flown in a while, so I was having difficulty overcoming my fear of flying. With white knuckles and sweaty palms I arrived in paradise. The Travel Bug bit me hard on that trip, so I knew I had to kick my fear of flying. I can’t exactly say that I’ve completely conquered my fear, but I no longer feel the need to grip a bottle of Xanax for the duration of the flight.
My path to tolerating flying began with a layover in Houston and a chatty pilot. Our conversation turned to my fear of flying and the pilot asking me “Why?” Well, other than the obvious like the ground being 30,000 feet beneath me, I didn’t really have an answer. His response was simple, “Learn about aviation. Don’t let the unknown create fear.” I took his advice and headed over to Google to ask my aviation questions. Questions like, “How are planes made?” and “What causes turbulence?” I wasn’t completely cured, but it helped! On my next flight I felt prepared and due to my research on “What to expect on your flight” I had a better understanding of what was happening next.
On another occasion, I was discussing my quest to conquer my fear with a client who’s an aviation engineer. He suggested a few websites that have become part of my Travel Checklist:
These two sites have helped me the most to overcome turbulence. The night before my flight (ok, and in the morning) I take a look at the areas we’ll be flying over. Areas of potential bad weather are highlighted and pilot reports of turbulence are marked. In the past, I’d board an airplane not knowing what weather lay ahead. I’d grip down on the armrest and unnecessarily expect the worse flight of my life. Since I began tracking my flight path, I’ve been able to mentally prepare for any bumps or rain clouds we may encounter in the sky. Most importantly, tracking my flight path has allowed me to relax and not expect every flight to be a rollercoaster.
On flights where WiFi is available, Flight Aware has been another tool used to keep me calm and distracted. Knowing where I am in the sky and how much time we have before landing allows me to keep my eye on the prize, in this case the destination.
Additional tips to keep you distracted:
- When possible, stretch your legs by moving around the cabin or taking a walk to the bathroom.
- Create a Music Playlist. Try to create a playlist of calming songs with slower beats. My Monster Headphones have become my favorite travel accessory.
- Talk to the Flight Attendants and don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you hear a noise you’ve never heard on a plane before, ask what it was. Don’t leave the aircraft with lingering questions or curiosity. Having answers will better prepare you for the next flight.
Overcoming flight anxiety takes time, so don’t give up! Wipe off your tears, shake off the anxiety, keep traveling, keep yourself informed and distracted!
The World is a Beautiful Place, don’t let your Fears keep you from experiencing it!