How can one write about travel and be fearful of flying? Easy. You are a masochistic.
For me, my fear came late in life. My parents dutifully informed me that I took my first flight at 1.5 years old. I’ve been a frequent flier since. As a child I was restricted to domestic flights, but reveled in the opportunity ever time it arose. There was something glamorous, sophisticated, and worldly about flying. At 17 years old I had my first taste of long-haul, international flights and I was hooked. However, I look back now and realize that I was a rubbish traveler – always overpacking, forever taking more books than I could read, and always forgetting where I put my boarding card.
As the years have passed I have improved as a flyer with each mile – I now pack with the efficiency of a robot, each article of clothing packed is used, no more, no less; I travel only with a beautifully little and light Samsonite; I never leave home without my Bose noise-canceling headphones; and I always know exactly where my passport it.
However, there was a time when flying caused me great anxiety. I can’t put my finger on it, but around the time I moved to London it began. I would become anxious days before the flight, I started drinking a Bloody Mary before every flight, and at times would be reduced to tears while holding Miguel’s hand for dear life. It was a horrible way to travel. And in spite of all this I still traveled to 21 countries in 2012.
After an especially bad flight from Madrid to Bogota, Miguel said it was time for this to be over and for me to regain control over my fear and my life. I immediately booked British Airway’s Flying with Confidence course and it has been one of the best things I have done.
This course cannot help you root out the underlying cause of your anxiety – for some people it’s occurs when they become parents, for others it occurs later in life when they begin to understand their mortality, while others experience it after near death experiences, and for some the lack of control causes the anxiety. Whatever the reason this course and other similar ones will not solve your underlying issue, but they will help you to identify, manage and fly with you anxiety.
Various angles are used in the class from the scientific explanation of flying to the analogy of turbulence to riding waves in a boat to using visualization techniques. For each person, something different sticks and that’s what you hold on to and that’s what makes it easier. For most it is a matter of managing your fear and not allowing it to stop you.
For me, I actually got down to the root cause. I was scared of losing everything. I lived for so long without a true partner and now not only did I have that partner, but I was living with him and building a beautiful life. And a saw each plan flight as a possible chance to lose my life with him. When I made this realization I was able to move past my fears. I now sleep fine the night before flights, I now barely flitch with turbulence (I write this as I bounce around on a turbulent flight), and best of all, I stopped crying everything I got on a plane. No more dramatic goodbyes at airports. I am in control now. And I decided not to let anything stand in the way of my wanderlust.