Just booked a trip and the flight to get there. Insert anxiety attack, panic attack, hyperventilating, nausea, shaking, crying and sweating. Ya, and I'm not even getting on the plane yet. I'm one of the millions (? didn't research that but probably accurate) of people that would rather just not travel at all than fly. And it SUCKS. I can't say that I have ever not booked a trip because of it, but the stress that comes with even the shortest flight is incredibly overwhelming. The fact that I get sick for at least 24 hours surrounding a flight is one of the most frustrating things to put up with especially when you are trying to relax and go on a vacay. So many people say, it's fine... why do you think about it so much... you're safer in a plane than a car. What they probably don't understand is 99% of what is happening in my head and physically to my body is out of my control. I know a lot of you get it.
So this year when I decided, we are going to travel more, explore new places, and really set goals + budgets for getting out of town, I knew I had to figure something out. I casually mentioned my fear on instagram a few weeks ago, not thinking anyone would really come to the rescue with their great advice... but that's exactly what happened. I had some amazing recommendations and a lot of DM's encouraging me, sharing their similar struggles and checking in once I got to my destination. Mostly I was like, wtf, why didn't I do this sooner? I tried a lot of what people recommended and felt a HUGE difference on my travel days. Some of the stuff they said, I was a little skeptical about at first... but at this point I was really open to anything. So I want to share a few tweaks I made in the hours/days surrounding travel that made me an (almost) fearless flyer in JUST ONE TRIP.
This was by far the one that I was like, oh ya right... that won't work. I never understood meditation and am still learning about it and how to do it. I always thought that people who meditate would sit on the floor for an hour having an out of body experience, both of which I don't have time for;) But someone recommended the 'Headspace' app, so I checked it out. It basically leads you through meditation and most of them are around 3 minutes for one session. I figured I could try anything for a few minutes. I did the "basics" and the "fear of flying", both of which were free on the app. I listened a few times and after that was able to repeat it in my head whenever I would start to feel anxiety coming on... in the car, in the airport, on the plane, etc. I think teaching yourself how to calm your mind is probably the biggest trick to being able to fly, at least for me. This app was a game changer... now I just need to keep up with it!
SKIPPING THE CAFFEINE
Ok, I was like HELL NO, no way am I skipping coffee the morning before a flight. I did not skip coffee on my first flight but DID on my flight back (mostly because of time, not by choice). But I felt so much different on the second flight. Traveling in a new airport when you don't know how long things will take or where you are going is usually so stressful for me... so I anticipated the day going home to be much worse which was not the case this time. Still not sure I'm going to avoid all caffeine on travel days, but think it's worth some more research to see if it's truly what is helping.
HAVING SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
This past trip to NY was for work, so it was mid-week which meant I was able to fly home right in time for the weekend. I really believe that since I didn't have to come home to a day of work, it made my stress levels come down a bit. When we usually fly home from a vacation, we are trying to use up as many "non-work" days as possible, so we end of flying home at night, or even on a red-eye, and get to work the same or next day. Knowing that I was coming home to sushi and a beach day just meant that I wasn't adding extra stress with to-do lists piling up in my head. I know it's not always possible, but is worth a shot if you can plan around a day off!
Haha... but really. If it's after 11am, I'm having a glass of wine on my flight. A few people said to steer clear of this, and I actually did pre-flight (I used to hit the bar as soon as I got to the airport to ease my nerves). But a lot of my anxiety kicks in when we are 45 minutes in and I know I have to sit in a tin can in the air for another 5 hours. My routine is almost set in stone at this point... grab a glass of wine, work on a blog post or something fun for an hour while enjoying said wine. Forget that you're flying because you're enjoying something familiar, like you would at home. TRY and sleep... Once I make it through those first 2 hours, it's usually smooth sailing for the rest of the flight.
Not like to first class or anything (but if you can, DO... duh) but just to those seats with a little extra room, a little extra customer service, and free tv;) I've been doing this when possible and it's made a huge difference in my experience. You get on the plane first and aren't panicking for a place to put your bag. Honestly free movies and tv is a huge perk for me which again, I think goes back to doing something that makes you feel at home. I usually turn on a show that we watch at home while cooking dinner... it's familiar and comforting in a strange way. And it's clear that the closer to the front of the plane you are, the better service you receive. When people are mean or snippy around me when I am panicking on a flight, it just intensifies those feelings which is why I think this move has helped a bit. I know it's not always an option, but when it is, I'm making it happen. I'd rather have a calm flight than a new pair of shoes anyways;)
I hope a few of these can help fearful flyers! Most of these came from instagram friends, so I have them to thank for trying all of this and really changing my feelings about travel. It's amazing that I have so many thoughtful people over there that wanted to give their advice. Thank you again if you were one of them!