“Welcome aboard” – or how I managed to overcome my fear of flying!
Travelling has never been easier or cheaper. Especially thanks to planes, we can easily get to the most remote countries. On my travel list there are numerous places I would like to visit – but a little problem shows up each time I think about it: my fear of flying. For some, this doesn’t make any sense, for others it is a huge handicap, but I am not the only one. It is estimated that around 500 million people in the world, suffer from aviophobia. For me, it starts the day before: I am stressed and I don’t sleep well. If at the same time, it so happens that there is an accident report, then I start panicking and making up disaster scenarios in my head worthy of the most terrifying horror movies. And yet, I do climb aboard these technological miracles quite often, especially since I live abroad. So what can I do to prepare my next flight?
My 10 well-tested pieces of advice against aviophobia
- On your marks, get set, go!
Thanks to my smartphone, I can check in and choose my favourite seat before departure. It will mostly be aisle seats that are close to the wings in order to be able to “escape” to the aisle of the plane and to not be stuck between other passengers.
- Do not neglect your basic needs
Considering the restlessness of the previous night, it is better to have a healthy (and preferably light) dinner, to drink enough (water or tea only) and to go to bed early in order to be in good shape for the next day.
- Forget your designer clothes!
What should I wear? I must say that when I get off a plane, I don’t look like a movie star, or someone who has just come out of a spa treatment… It’s important to me to feel at ease. Hence the comfortable, loose clothes, sneakers and the several layers of clothes – dressed like an onion, so not to freeze with the air conditioning, nor to overheat. My contact lenses stay at home and I go for eyeglasses, which give me an intellectual look and won’t dry up my eyes.
- Go for a German approach and be punctual
Being stressed and afraid to miss your flight will not make you more relaxed. This is why I like getting to the airport ahead of time. There is always a lot to discover: you can watch travellers coming from all over the world or do some window-shopping. It frees the mind and gives you a feel of the others travellers’ serenity / peace of mind.
- Don’t pay attention to the strange noises
A plane makes a lot of noises, especially during take-off. Watch the different videos you can find on YouTube explaining them in detail. Graham, a blogger and experienced traveller, even wrote an article reporting and explaining every single noise. The perfect thing to read before climbing aboard!
- Dear crew…
Don’t bury your head in the sand! The cabin crew is used to handling passengers who suffer from aviophobia. This is why, as soon as I get on board, I let them know I’m feeling uneasy and, at the same time, enquire about expected turbulences. I can thus prepare myself for some possible bumps. During the flight, the hostesses come to see me frequently and ask how I’m doing. It’s really reassuring! One day, if I am lucky, I will get a joking steward!
- There is music in the air…
My iPod’s battery is always charged to the maximum and a playlist with my favourite music is ready. Nowadays, in some planes, it is even allowed to listen to music during take-off and landing – so I grab the headphones and dive into “Fly away“ at top volume! Streaming services such as Spotify even offer ready-to-use airplane-themed playlists.
- Grandmother’s recipes
Many people suffering from fear of flying go to extreme lengths and use prescription-only medication. It seems risky to me and will only make the problem worse. For me, there has been one grandmother’s recipe, which has proven to be useful: I take a few drops of a specific floral elixir that I carry in a flask (less than 100ml of course, to be able to bring it on the plane with me). An excellent way to soothe my strained nerves.
- Stay calm and breathe deeply!
Never mind the looks on other passengers’ faces – they shouldn’t bother you. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold your breath for 3 seconds and exhale slowly through your mouth. Done several times in a row, this exercise decreases the adrenaline level and soothes the nerves.
- Drink a lot and don’t forget your treats
In order to avoid adding to the vascular issues, you must drink a lot, preferably still water or tea, and above all, no alcohol. For many passengers, a feeling of slight drunkenness is relaxing. However, the body goes through too much stress. Personally, I would rather treat myself with some happiness hormones in the form of my favourite chocolate bar.
And, when fear gets to me, I always tell myself that the plane is the safest means of transportation. In its latest report, the IATA (International Air Transport Association) highlights the fact that, statistically, an accident happens only once out of 2,4 million… We have a better chance to be struck by lightning! I also tell myself that if it weren’t for these big birds, I wouldn’t have seen all these amazing places, discovered all these different cultures and met so many interesting people! I would have missed out on so many memorable experiences!
Do you have any suggestions to overcome fear of flying that I should add to my list?