Today, I'm kicking off a new series on the blog called "Travel Confessions," where I share personal travel secrets with readers. Maybe you'll be able to relate to some of these secrets or maybe you'll just think I'm really strange. Either way, it'll be fun.
First up in my collection of travel confessions: flying scares me.
Yes, flying scares me.
I realize I'm a travel blogger who has traveled to more than 30 countries around the world and every week I write about why you should travel more, but it's true: flying does scare me. Not all the time, mind you. And I wasn't always afraid of flying, but in the last year or so, I've had some pretty interesting flights that have made me a bit more nervous than usual.
One memorable flight took place on my birthday last year. I had just celebrated turning 30 in Mexico and wanted to end the celebration in Florida with my family. Except when my flight took off, the turbulence was so bad I thought maybe I wasn't going to make it to Florida after all. I remember going from casually reading a magazine to slamming that magazine shut and flinging it aside so that I could grab onto my armrests like lifelines. My wide eyes locked onto an equally terrified woman across the aisle from me while her husband slept on her shoulder, completely oblivious to our near-death experience. It was one of those moments where we both likely thought: This is it! And the last person I'll see is this glassy-eyed, scared woman across the aisle from me. Fortunately, after what felt like hours but was only minutes, the plane righted itself and continued its not quite smooth ascent into the air. The woman and I exchanged wobbly, relieved smiles before retreating back into our own worlds.
A few months later, I traveled on what was a very short but extremely bumpy plane ride to Canada. At one point, I became so nervous from the constant turbulence that I knocked over my cup of orange juice, spilling it on myself and my carry-on bag. Go me.
My pulse speeds up and my heart starts beating a little faster. My hands creep toward the armrests to assume their viselike grip.
Needless to say, I'm not the best with turbulence. I know, logically, that turbulence is part of flying (keyword: logically). I also know that, generally speaking, flying is very safe. Planes are made to withstand a lot. This is all very useful information to remember when I'm on a flight that hits turbulence, and yet, my pulse speeds up and my heart starts beating a little faster. My hands creep toward the armrests to assume their viselike grip.
So, how do I, a travel-obsessed travel blogger, deal with a fear of flying? In short, I push through it. To expand on that, there are a few things I do when I encounter turbulence and my fear kicks in:
- Focus on the facts: I find that remembering how safe airplanes are is a great way to calm yourself down during turbulent times.
- Focus on my breathing: It's easy to forget to breathe slowly when you're nervous and getting yourself worked up, hence the need to focus on breathing in and breathing out, breathing in and breathing out. It helps; I promise!
- Focus on my entertainment: Distractions are great, especially when they come in the form of good music, a great book or an engaging movie. It doesn't completely get rid of the nerves but it helps give you something else to think about.
- Focus on sleeping: I'm not above taking a Benedryl or sleeping aid to knock myself out. I have yet to be woken up by turbulence, so I continue to think this is a sound strategy.
These methods do not erase the fear completely, but they do make things better. As does gripping those trusty armrests.
At the end of the day, my desire to see the world is far stronger than any fear. And that is what keeps me going to the next city, the next country and the next continent.
How do you handle nerves on a flight?