At the start of the year my number one fear was elevators. I’ve conquered that fear which leaves only one thing. Flying. I hate flying more than anything but unfortunately I love travelling more than anything. So unless I want to spend over ten hours on a coach getting from England to France I need to get over it and get on the plane.
Earlier this year I was convinced I was getting really bad luck so I said to my friends “I am not getting on a plane this year.” I have ended up getting on a plane eight times this year, two of them being long haul flights to New York and back. And slowly but surely my nerves are decreasing a little bit.
I was a mess earlier this year when I got the plane home from Amsterdam. It was the shortest flight of my entire life but I freaked out the entire way home. I can’t even say why because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was lovely and sunny and as flights go it was actually really pleasant. But I held my friend Hirst’s hand the entire time and freaked out so loudly that apparently other passengers made sarcastic comments about me. Whoops.
Me and Hirst on the flight where I was annoying as hell.
Time passed and I didn’t get on a plane but I knew my flight to New York was approaching and every night I’d lie in bed and try to prepare myself. During the day I could kid myself I didn’t care and I was really chill about catching the flight but at night I couldn’t, the anxiety crept in and I knew I’d be scared.
In the end I ended up flying before my trip to New York because I ended up going on a last minute trip to Luxembourg for my friend’s 21st birthday. I didn’t want to be that annoying passenger that freaks out and does everyone’s heads in anymore so I told myself I’d be calm.
This might sound weird but I love going through airport security. So I was chill going through all that, I was chill when we had breakfast, I was chill waiting for the gate to be announced. Got to the gate and I was no longer chill. Got on the plane and I was no longer chill. However, I was sat next to Becca. On the way back from Amsterdam I’d sat next to Hirst who’d been so kind and patient the entire way even though I was the biggest pain ever. I knew Becca would not put up with my shit and I didn’t want her to fall out with me before we’d even made it to Luxembourg.
Even now I’m not okay during take-off. Luckily all four of us were sat in a line so I could hold Hirst’s hand but I nearly broke it and I remember chanting “I’m not chill! I’m not chill! I’m not chill!” The entire time we were taking off. The moment we levelled out Becca put her headphones on so I told myself to relax and I put my headphones on too. And I was okay.
For Luxembourg the flights were really nice, barely any turbulence but that was different on the way back from New York. On the way back into Manchester we hit what my Mom described as ‘mild turbulence’? Well if that was mild I’d hate to hit really bad turbulence. The air hostess was trying to pour me a drink and it was sloshing all over the place. Saying that, I was freaking out but everyone around me was calmly eating their breakfast without a care in the world.
We hit turbulence on the way to ‘Lithuania’ as well but I was sat next to Hirst and we’d both just that second ordered hot drinks. I was scared so I was holding the arm rest and I also wanted to hold her hand but we needed to protect the drinks so she ended up holding both of them whilst I held onto her arm. We were both honestly pissing ourselves with laughter so although I was scared I was also having a good time.
Me and my friends on the way home from Lithuania – when I felt a lot calmer!
To be honest being an awkward person really helps me a lot. There have been times we’ve been sat in the gate ready to get on the plane and I’ve thought to myself ‘I can’t do it, I can’t get on this plane’ but because I’m so awkward I would never actually say that or refuse to get on. My friends would hate me and it’d be such a waste of money that I’m too awkward to not go through with it!
Although I’m slowly starting to get better on flights I wanna point out that I am by no means a confident flyer, I’m still extremely nervous on flights and I still need to hold someone’s hand during take-off. Also there’s something about sitting in the window seat during take-off that I don’t like the thought of so I always make sure I’m on the aisle seat. Once we’re up there I imagine the window seats quite nice ‘cos you can look out but nope, not on the way up. I don’t know why, it literally makes no difference.
My point is that although I get nervous I have some tips that help me keep relatively calm and hopefully they will help other nervous flyers feel a bit better too:
– Take something to distract yourself. Seems obvious but bring a variety. I love listening to music but occasionally I end up finding myself panicking because this leaves me alone in my thoughts too much. So I’ll switch to watching some videos I’ve already uploaded onto my iPod. Or I’ll start reading. Or start talking to my friends if they’re willing to. For me, switching up what I’m doing helps take my mind off the things I’m nervous about.
– My Mom always tells me to tell the flight attendants I’m nervous but like realistically there’s not a lot they can do, they’ve got work to be getting on with not comforting me. So just let the people you’re travelling with know that you’re nervous. My friends already know and I couldn’t have kept it a secret even if I’d wanted to, I was that bad. But because they know I’m nervous they go out of their way to make sure I’m keeping it together. I woke up one morning to find my friends had been discussing our flight while I was asleep and had paid extra for me to sit next to one of them so I wouldn’t be nervous – I honestly nearly wept.
– Although I’m not a fan of turbulence whenever the plane starts to shake I remember something I heard a pilot say on a YouTube video once. If you were in a car driving over a bumpy road, the car would start to shake and we wouldn’t think twice about it. Why is it different on a plane? And he’s right, turbulence is not dangerous it’s just uncomfortable and for me, yes, a little scary. But the plane was made to handle it so just remember that you’re never in any danger.
– At any given time there are around 5000 planes in the sky above the United States. 5000! And that’s just in the United States! There are so many planes in the sky all at once, if nothing bad happens to those planes what are the chances of something happening to the one you’re on? Extremely slim. Think of all the people you saw at the airport and the amount of different flights everyone’s getting on. That really comforts me whenever I’m on the plane.
– Think about all the cool things you’re going to do in whatever country you’re heading to. Okay that doesn’t necessarily work if you’re on a business trip or you’re on your way home but on the way there it’s easy to think ‘well this will be worth it because I’m going to see/do all these cool things when I get there’. I hate flying with a passion but there is no better feeling than touching down in a country you’ve never been to before.
– Statistically you’re a lot safer on the plane than you were in the car on the way to the airport. This is another comforting one for me because I was in a car accident earlier this year so I feel like the odds are on my side.
I think I’m done with flights for this year but next year I’m travelling to Japan and South Korea. That means getting a flight to Turkey, then to Japan, then from Japan to Korea, then from Korea to Turkey and another flight back to England. That’s gonna be a lot of flights! So I’m grateful I got on so many flights this year because at the start of this year I was terrified of flying. Now I think I’m just nervous. I no longer lie in bed dreading the next flight I have to get; I just get scared when I’m actually at the airport.
I hope these tips help any nervous flyers out there and just remember that with each flight you are conquering your fear a little bit more each time! It’s the start of your holiday and you should look forward to it instead of fearing it.