How I Deal With My Fear of Flying… Constantly

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I LOVE traveling. I hate flying. As somebody who has a fear of flying, having to get on an airplane almost weekly presents a bit of a conundrum. Resulting from a really scary flight in 2006, I’ve been freaked the hell out about flying for years. I guess the real fear isn’t so much in flying as it is crashing… For a while there it got so bad that tears and shaking were a part of almost every flight I took.

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A couple years ago I was able to get a prescription for a very light dose of an anti-anxiety drug, which definitely helped, but I hated having to take something in order to get through a flight. Plus, even though it was an extremely light dose, it made me incredibly drowsy so that wasn’t optimal either, as usually I’m getting off a plane and into a rental car. I needed a solution. I didn’t really have one, other than “just keep flying.” And that actually helped…

The more flights I’ve taken, the more I’ve learned. After a couple hundred or so flights over the past few years, I’ve gotten better. I hardly use my pills anymore, but I still keep them in my travel bag. Although I’m still freaked out by flying, I’ve picked up a few key practices that have helped me get through it, partly because I have to for my job, more so because I want to… because there’s still a lot of this world I haven’t seen yet.

So I’m gonna to pass those along now…

In no particular order, here are my top 7 tips for getting through a fear of flying:

1. Learn about how planes work.

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I read a book by Michael Chricton called, “Airframe.” It was a novel, yes, but all his books are based on scientific facts and are cited up one side and down the other. This book was  about a plane accident and all the issues surrounding it. It explained a lot about the science/physics about aviation and how planes actually work, why they’re built the way they are, etc. It really opened my eyes up about how durable airplanes are. Plus, it was an entertaining read, so it’s worth a go.

I’ve also talked to a few pilots here and there. I’ve sat next to them occasionally on flights and talk to them in the airport while waiting for flights. Once, I had drinks with a couple in the bar one night after we all took the shuttle from the airport to the same hotel. I asked them tons of questions about various scenarios where I can see how the plane would either spontaneously combust, be flipped over by an insane wind gust, or simply fall out of the sky. They assured me that nearly every one of those scenarios was impossible and explained why. They may have thought I was crazy, but they humored me and answered every question I asked.

No matter what the subject, most of our fear comes simply from the unknown. Learning more of the science of flying has helped.

 

2. Fly more often. Seriously.

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I know our initial reaction is to avoid the things we’re scared of, but the best thing to do is face it… unfortunately.

Every flight I took I reminded myself that it would be ok and I would get better at it… And then that damn Alanis Morissette line would go through my head: “He waited his whole damn life, to take that flight. And as the plane crashed down he thought, well isn’t this nice.” And then I’d go back to thinking I was going to die… THANKS, Alanis!

The more I flew though, the more familiar things felt. The more I learned that the sound immediately after take-off wasn’t the engine falling out of the plane,(like I was certain it was), it was merely the sound the landing gear makes as it retracts back up into the plane. The scary sound as you start to descend for landing isn’t the wing about to rip apart from the body of the plane, it’s just the struts extending out to allow the plane to ascend or descend. The other sound that I always thought meant we were going to crash, as it caused an immediate drop in speed, ended up being the landing gear coming down to prep for our arrival. Knowing that these horrific sounds of impending doom were actually just sounds the plane makes as it goes through normal operations makes everything a little easier to endure.

3. Sit towards the front!

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I read an article once about how to survive a plane crash and it said most survivors were ones seated in the back of the plane. So obviously, I sat in the farthest seat I could get (but before the very back row… you only make that mistake once), but it always seemed as though the turbulence was horrid and it was always super loud. I can’t sleep on planes as it is, and the noise back there made it even more unlikely to happen.

Then I learned, from the lovely pilots I chatted up, that the turbulence is felt more the farther back you sit. The closer you are to the front, the easier it feels. Viola! I don’t know if that’s true or if it’s just the placebo effect, but either way, sitting at the front feels better. Plus, you get to exit the plane sooner. Double whammy!

4. Close the window!

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If the plane is making a turn and I look out the window and am staring at the ground, I’m thinking the plane is effing SIDEWAYS! There is no way on God’s green earth that we’re not going to crash. How can the plane take that much force?! The wings are gonna snap! The engine’s going to die! “Stop making such a sharp turn, you irresponsible pilot!” Sooooo now I just keep the window shades down. I do this by always booking a window seat, so then I’m in control of it. Out of sight, out of mind, my friends! Most people want an aisle seat anyway, so it works out for everybody: I don’t see anything that makes me freak out, the person next to me doesn’t have to hold my hand. Win win!

5. Distractions, distractions, distractions.

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The more ish I have to distract me, the less I think about the plane crashing and all of us dying a horrific death. I always check the types of planes I’ll be flying in when I book my ticket, since you can do that these days on the website, or on the airline’s phone app. Depending on the airline, sometimes there are rad TVs with shows, movies and music. Sometimes though, there’s absolutely no in-flight entertainment. In those cases, I bring my own distractions: Since I’m self-employed, there’s usually always some work I could be doing, so that can take up a huge portion of my attention. I always have my computer with me, as well as my Kindle. I get a subscription of my favorite magazine, Outside, as well as my fitness publication, IDEA Fitness Journal. I take the mags when they arrive in the mail and immediately place them in my carryon backpack, saved especially for reading while flying. And since they now allow you to have your electronics on during the entire flight (namely takeoff and landing, which are the scariest parts of the flight) I’m totally set up to use my phone or Kindle to think about as many other things as possible!

6. Alcohol.

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I mean, don’t get wasted or anything, but if I don’t have to drive after landing, sometimes I’ll have a drink or two (or three, depending on the length of the flight) and I’m out like a light. Or a little more numb to the turbulence, one of the two.

Keep it classy though! Belligerent people get kicked off planes and put on the no-fly list… And don’t drink alcohol if you’re taking any medication!

7. Think about the statistics.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are an average of 87,000 flights per day, in the United States alone. Multiply that by 365 days in a year and you get just under 32 Million… just in the states! How often do we hear of a major airline crash? Not often. And the most recent ones have been in other countries where the regulations are likely not as strict as they are here. Every time a flight is delayed for a mechanical reason, passengers always complain because they’ll be late. I always silently rejoice that the pilots have caught something that could have just saved our lives. Compared to driving, many more safe flights are happening every day.

If nothing else… close your eyes and focus on your breath. 

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So these are all the little things I think about that have helped me over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “cured” by any means. I still freak out a little when there’s turbulence for more than 10 seconds. I still track all my man-friend’s flights so I know he’s arrived safely. I still re-think decisions to switch flights or fly standby in case I’m putting myself on a flight that’s going to crash, or switching flights that will inherently save me from one the one going to crash… but at least I’m not crying anymore, nor am I all drugged up. Glad game!

I know I can’t control the planes I’m flying on. I can’t control the pilots and their actions either. I also can’t stay on the ground and not travel, so I suck it up and fly. And these things help me out.

Do any of you have a fear of flying? What do you do to curb it?

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8 Ways to Act Like A Douche at the Airport

If you’ve been around this blog for more than a couple weeks, you know that I travel for work. A lot. I’m in airports nearly every week and I see a lot of annoying douche bag behavior.  So if you don’t fly a lot, check these out to make sure you’re not that douche in the future. In no particular order, I give you:
 
8 Ways to Act Like A Douche at the Airport
(or on the plane)
{1} Going through the 1st class security line… when there’s nobody in the regular security line. 
Don’t get me wrong, I love having higher status and being able to sail through the shorter lines when there’s others are incredibly long. But when there is no long wait, I just go through the regular line.
{2} Using 58 bins to put your ish in before going through the scanner. 
You need ONE bin for tablet or laptop and ONE bin for your clothes/shoes. NO MORE. Your millions of bins, plus your suitcase, plus your carry-on bag, plus your shopping bag of whatever you just bought at the gift shop makes the line go slower than it already is. #aintnobodygottimeforthat  I have one word for you: CONSOLIDATE.
{3} Having a loud phone chat while sitting in the middle of everybody. 
This goes for convos in any public place. Walk away from people to have your conversation. Nobody whats to hear it. Any of it. I think I’m going to start sitting down next to these people and having my own loud-ass conversation… and see if they get annoyed.
{4} Flossing/grooming at the gate or in your seat on the plane. 
Nobody wants to see that. That’s why they have bathrooms. If you’re picking your nose, you’d be better be younger than 5.
{5} Bringing your (too) big carry-on bag onto the tiny planes…
…when they’ve made 5 announcements saying you need to leave it on the jet bridge.
When you ignore those announcements and bring your giant ass bag on the plane, then look completely bewildered when it doesn’t fit, then have to cram your way back through the plane to take it off anyway, you annoy EVERYBODY. And you make the boarding process longer than it already is. Listen to instructions, check your bag, or pack lighter.
{6} Get angry when there are babies aboard or crying.
Look, babies cry. They won’t cry forever though. Their ears will stop popping, they’ll get tired, or hungry, and eventually go to sleep. The parents are mortified as it is and struggling to keep them as quiet as possible. They don’t need you huffing loudly and obnoxiously from your seat as a visual reminder that you’re uncomfortable. If you don’t want to hear anything on your flight, invest in some noise-cancelling headphones.
{7} Act a fool in public when your flight gets delayed or cancelled. 
Everybody else on your flight is bummed too, but yelling at the airline customer service rep just makes you look crazy and the rest of the people in line behind you aren’t getting their ish rebooked any faster. Calmly get your flight adjusted, voice your complaint to the rep, and then write a letter/email to the airline. That’s the process. Yes it sucks, but unless you want to get in the car and drive to your destination, it’s what you have to deal with when flying.
{8} STAND in the middle of the moving sidewalk. 
Ooooooh I can’t stand this one. The moving sidewalk is there to MOVE YOU FASTER through the long terminals, NOT for you to take a load off while you get carried from one end to the other. If you need to stand, move to the right side with all your bags and get out of the way of people actually trying to get through quickly.
What are your biggest airport/plane peeves?
Did I miss any?
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Scaredy Cat…

I’m going to Greece today!

I have 10 flights over the next 10 days!
4 of them today!
It’s a good thing I don’t hate flying or this would really suck.
#sarcasm
I DO HATE FLYING. 
I’ve said it before. 
Anybody who knows me knows this. 
I also fly nearly every weekend for my job. 
Dumb, yes? 
Here’s just a little explanation of this: 
Before I get started: 
I KNOW that flying is safer than driving. 
I KNOW that’s it’s faster and more efficient (I’m always for efficiency). 
I KNOW that thousands of flights take off each year and there’s hardly ever an accident. 
I KNOW that I basically have to suck it up,
 get over it, and get on the damn plane… 
or I’d have  seriously limited travel experience. 
I KNOW all these things. 
But for whatever reason, I think each time I take a flight, I’m chancing death. This is why I drive if I have to travel anywhere that’s within 6 hours. Even though I’m aware that statistically, I’m more likely to be killed on the freeway than in an aircraft, I’d still rather avoid flying if I can… 
Despite ‘knowing’ all of this, 
this is me during take-off, 
turbulence, 
and landing:

White knuckles all the way…

The take-off and landings are the scariest. 
Because they say that’s when most crashes happen.
It’s bumpy, you’re turning, you’re ascending.
It all seems very unstable to me. 
So I board every flight with an arsenal of technological distractions.
Know what’s great?
 The only time you can’t use your distractions
(music, movies, computers, e-readers, etc)
is DURING the scariest parts of the flight!!!

This is why I’m a big fan of planes
that have tv screens on each seat back.
At least you’ve got something to do during these moments.

……
Also:
When you see a plane turning from the ground, it looks like this: 
Just a slight angle, 
nice and easy. 
When you’re INSIDE a plane and it turns, it feels like this: 
Completely sideways!
Unsafe and unnatural. 
WTF?! That big ass machine is not supposed to move like this. 
What if a huge wind gust comes along and flips the plane right over?!
I feel like that could happen…

And why do they have to lower the landing gear when we’re still going SO FAST?
The plane slows so much and it feels like everything’s going to rip apart.
I feel like they should slow their roll a bit more before they start that ish.

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And I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that we’re delayed
due to “mechanical issues.”
Are you effing kidding me?
 Can you please not announce that there are problems
with the plane I’m about to board?!

All I picture is somebody out there with duct tape, patching it quickly
so they don’t have to hear everybody complaining about being delayed.

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I know they’re trying to keep everybody posted,
but I could do without that tidbit of info.

Lie to us!

Say the captain had diarrhea.
Say there’s bad weather somewhere along the route.
Say somebody puked on the previous flight and they have to clean it up for a bit…

DO NOT TELL ME SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH MY PLANE
and that you’re gonna “fix it up real quick and we’ll be on our way in no time”

I mean, do you want me to freak out like the lady in the Airplane! slapping scene?
(Don’t worry. I won’t. I’m not that bad.)

……

But since I can’t do anything about any of this,
I’ve learned to just sit back,
close my eyes for the first 10 minutes,
down a cocktail or two
and breathe.

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And maybe look into an aeronautics class
so I can actually find out what’s happening on an airplane when it flies.
Maybe that’ll help?

What silly phobia do you have?

I’ll be back in 9 days!
Have a great weekend
: ) 

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A Little Stretchy Stretch…

…on the Jetty Jet. 
Scoring a row all to myself on a plane is rare. 
But LOVELY. 
This happened to me when I flew to San Diego on July 4th. 
Sitting in the same spot for hours is not lovely. 
It’s stiffening. 
The point of this post? 
If you fly on a holiday (4th of July in this instance)
you score lots of room on the plane,  
then you get to stretch whenever/however you want. 
Happy Monday! 
Make this week your bitch. ; )  
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Winning and Losing the Travel Lottery…

If you’ve read my blog for more than a week, you see that I travel (for work and for pleasure) a LOT. A bunch of my colleagues and I always talk about the things that we encounter every week and refer to them as “winning” or “losing” in the travel lottery. Between flying, renting cars, booking hotels, and sometimes having to be in multiple cities all in one weekend, there’s a lot of ish we go through… 

Things That Go In The “Losing” Category
  • Having to fly in general. I hate flying. I feel like I’m skirting death each time. Still…. 
  • Having that person in front of you in security that doesn’t take their belt off, tries to get an entire full size bottle of shampoo through security, and throws a fit because they have to take their shoes off. THERE ARE SIGNS EVERYWHERE. Read them. Get with the program. 
  • Getting the window seat next to the extremely overweight person who takes up half your seat. (if they don’t have to pay for two seats, I should only be charged for half of mine… since that’s all I got. 
  • Getting to the airport just in time for them to tell you you’re too late to check in for your flight… even though the plane is still there and will be for the next 45 minutes… #effers
  • Traffic, traffic, traffic on the way to catch your flight, make your appt, etc. I’m talking to you, LA. 
  • Having a layover that’s more than an hour and a half. 
  • Having your first flight be delayed so much that you miss your connection and are forced to spend the night in some random city and not get home until halfway through the next day. 
  • Going to any city where there’s a MAJOR event going on. i.e. Indy during the Super Bowl. Yeeeeeah traffic. And things doubling in price (flights, hotels, etc). 
  • Getting a hotel room that’s in the middle of nowhere, with no good places to eat within a 20 mile radius. 
  • Getting a great hotel room in a great city, but having to pay $25/day for internet. Or $20 for a 2 egg breakfast, with a $4 room service fee, $2 “convenience fee”, and automatic %20 gratuity added in. Sorry, room service person. Tip? Eff off. 
Things That Go In the “Winning” Category
let’s end on a positive note, huh? : ) 
  • Finding out you have to go work in a city where you have friends/family that you can stay with or hang with while you’re there. #multitasking
  • Getting to the airport for a random afternoon flight to find that you’re the ONLY person in the security line. YES. 
  • Getting an entire row to yourself on a flight. Holla! 
  • Getting that row to yourself on the LONG portion of your trip. Double holla!
  • Finding that the trip that Google maps told you would take 2 hours, really only takes 1.5 hours. 
  • Arriving early to ANY destination. 
  • Scoring a quiet corner in the airport that includes an outlet for your phone and computer. #primerealestate
  • Getting a shit-ton of work done on your layover that you won’t have to do when you get home! #crossthatishoffyourlist
  • Frequent flier miles/ hotel points/ rental car points 
  • Getting that email that tells you you’ve moved up to the next tier of status for any of those points
  • Finding out that your hotel has a jacuzzi, and you’ve remembered your bikini, AND nobody else is in it! 
  • Getting free travel vouchers after you’ve gotten hosed by your airline/hotel. 
  • Ordering a cocktail on your flight that the flight attendant forgets to charge you for. #score
  • Getting to a city really late at night and the only cars they have left at the rental agency are better and you get the upgrade for free. This doesn’t happen often, but happened to me a couple months ago in Boston… “All we have left is a a convertible”. Sigh… “ok.” 
  • Getting to see more of your country/the world because of your job. And loving that job more than any other you’ve ever had. #winning
writing this from Dallas/Fort Worth airport, 
on my 3 hour layover, 
that’s now been delayed another hour. 
At least I’ve had time to blog… Glad Game : ) 
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