fear

Scared of flying? Here's how to actually survive long-haul travel

What do you fear? Is it spiders? The dark? Being perpetually trapped in Oxford Circus tube station at rush hour?

I fear flying. Which, you know, is great and everything for someone who travels every two or so months, and wants to hit as many countries as poss before she’s dead. Awks.

Well, to be more specific, I fear the feeling you get when the plane takes off, drops, or lurches. That kind of free-falling feeling you get when a plane moves in any direction that isn’t straight. 

In May, I’ll be taking my longest flight to date - to Australia. And unlike on the flight to Bali, I won’t have a buddy to hold my hand or soothe me at any slight movements. Freaking out? Yeah, a bit. 

Having searched my brain, the internet, and my friends for any advice that isn’t OD on G&Ts or “distract yourself” (IT DOESN’T WORK, PEOPLE), here are a few non-bullshit ways to get through the flight and to whatever beautiful country you're heading to in one, non-nervous wreck piece.

Find your comfy place
I find the most 'comfortable' way to endure the tummy drop is to be sat forward in my chair, shaking one leg up and down while holding onto the armrest, or a (long-suffering) family/friend's hand. While I may actually look like I'm having a nervy b as my leg bobs up and down, I'm actually focusing on moving my knee to a beat only I can hear.

Centre yourself
“If there's turbulence, place your feet flat on the ground. And, instead of focusing on the shaking, take deep breaths and notice how your feet are still and never move. It helps with the feeling of being out of control,” says Emily, my lovely ex-housemate who is one of the reasons I’ll be getting on this long-arse plane to Australia in the first place.

Sleep whenever you can
Food > sleep (well, just), so usually I don’t mind too much if I’m woken up when food is involved. However, not on a plane. If you're lucky enough to bag a window seat, or you're sat next to someone who doesn't mind straddling your unconscious body when they want to head to the loo, food is technically the only time you have to be awake during the flight. Don't worry about jet lag or adapting to the new time zones when you arrive at your destination; that's ground-you's problem. Plane-you, enjoy the quick passing of time that comes with being in the land of nod as much as physically possible. If wine, Kalms, or something heavier (head to the docs for some sort of sedative) helps, then load up, baby. 

Don't give yourself anything extra to worry about
"Organisation is my tip. A mobile phone that works, a printed version of where your staying and the route of how to get there from the airport. That kind of stuff gives me peace of mind to just sit, relax, watch a few movies and fly," says Jess, who has flown all over Oz, Europe, and some bits of Asia in the last few years.

Keep flying!
Which sounds like an unhelpful “face your fear” comment, but it genuinely does get better. I bet my mum would never have thought that that 15-year-old who grasped her hand so tight and went green in fear on a short haul flight to Spain would routinely fly on her own, let alone consider putting down her own hard earned cash to do it for 21 hours... (f***. I need to not focus on this part :|) Yes, there have been many flights since where I have grasped for my friend's/flatmates'/personal trainer's hand at take off, but there have equally been many times where I was sat next to strangers and didn't have this comfort blanket. 

And, until this day comes, like I said earlier, there are always sedatives. Or wine.