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Jun 7, 2013

Oh, The Places We Will Go!

Confession: I loathe flying. I haven't always disliked it, though. Before moving to Europe, I quite liked flying...mostly because if we were flying somewhere, it was a big deal. We hardly ever traveled somewhere that we couldn't drive to. So, flying on an airplane was kind of a treat. These days, it's my least favorite part of traveling. Waiting in long lines, standing around strange (and often unhygienic) people, and eating airplane food isn't high on my list of things I'm stoked to do. Not to mention the fact that airplanes seem to defy all laws of gravity...a phenomenon that has recently become all to real to me after stupidly watching that movie Flight. You know, the one with drunk Denzel Washington? If you haven't seen it and are a little uneasy about flying, DON'T WATCH IT!!! Instead, grab a glass of vino and read Selena's tips for battling flying anxiety. I've already got a handful of these tips ready to go in my own carry-on. Oh, and don't forget to enter to win the $25 Amazon gift card she's giving away while you're here! 
Take it away, Selena!


Hello, I'm Selena!  
I'm so excited to be guest posting on 
We Took the Road Less TraveledCasey is one 
of my favorite bloggers and we have so much in common. We are both transplanted Southern girls with ties to the Air Force. We both love wine and animals. We are both completely addicted to travel. The similarities go on and on. Of course, I won't point out the fact that I'm old enough to be her mother, because in my head I'm still 26 myself. (My 25 year old daughter can confirm.) You can read a little more about me over on my blog Oh, the places we will go! I'm a Texas girl who met the Englishman of my dreams a few years ago. We've been living in London for over a year now. I blog about my life as an expat, our travels and about expanding my comfort zoneIt's not something that I talk about often, but I can be a bit of a Nervous Nelly. 
Oh, who am I kidding? I have full blown anxiety disorder.

(Way to over-share on a guest post, huh? As my husband says..."You're so American.")

But, I am determined to not let this wacky, chemical, hormonal thing that
happens in my brain to prevent me from having these moments
and experiencing life to the fullest. 
And I don't want you to live anything but your best life either.
(See, that's that mother thing coming out again.)
Because medication isn't an option for me,
I've come up with all sorts of tricks to hide manage my panic.
Today I'm going to share a few tips for managing a fear of flying.
I hate, hate, hate, hate to fly.
No really.  I hate it.  But, I do it all the time now.
(Thankfully, it 's getting easier.)
I basically treat my flying anxiety like a naughty child.
I fill up a Hello Kitty backpack full of every conceivable trick
and distraction that I can think of to keep this little brat in check.
And then I just start whipping stuff out, right and left to see what works.
Here are a few things in this bag of tricks that have worked for me.

Don't feed the monster.
Get plenty of sleep the night before and have a nice, light meal before flying.
Anxiety loves a tired, hungry, hungover flyer like I love Iced Tea.

Control what you can.
Plan out everything and consider the whole process before you set out to the airport.
Leave yourself plenty of time to get checked in and through security.
Prepare yourself for lines and delays. 
I'd rather have an extra hour to relax at the gate than
to be racing for the gangway at the last minute. 
But, life and delays happen.  Try to stay positive and flexible.

Knowledge is power.
I realize that panic isn't rational and you can't just "decide" it away (if only).
But knowing what to expect when you're flying, can be very helpful.
Google common noises that you'll hear when you are flying.
Do some research on exactly how it works and read about "the dreaded T word."
(I have to whisper the word "turbulence" or my brat goes completely nuts.)

Use your imagination for good rather than evil.
 I recently read that planes are meant to fly.
They are happiest and at their best when up in the air.
That's really helped to ease some of my fear.
Suddenly I'm that kid from The Never Ending Story riding on the 
back of that cute flying dragon/dog creature,
instead of in this massive piece of machinery that I don't understand.
(My pop culture references are quite dated, aren't they?)

Distract that brain.
Like a naughty child, you can tell when your mind is getting wound up. 
Find some good distractions.  A book that you're already engrossed in is perfect.
I never start a new book, because I just find myself reading the same sentence over and over.
Reading magazine articles about travel and strong women,
helps me to feel more brave and courageous.
And it helps to focus on all of the magical destinations out there rather than the scary flight.
Music is always powerful.  It's hard to be upset when you're listening to 
the soundtrack for Mamma Mia or some good 80's hair bands.
(Showing my age again.  Just pick something that makes you want to dance.)

Flying 101 - Don't forget to breathe.
 I always use deep breathing exercises which definitely helps.
I'll often find myself holding my breath to the point of dizziness without even realizing it.
So breathe deep calming breaths.
I've also tried some reflexology by massaging the padded area at the base of my thumb
or my finger tips.  I read about it somewhere and figured it's worth a try.

Try not to watch the clock.
I obsess over time when I'm flying.
I have to know exactly what time the plane will take off,
exactly how long we will be in the air and what time we are landing.
I do this game of checking the time and calculating exactly how much longer.
I try to go as long as possible without checking the time,
so that when I do look, more time will have passed than I expected.
(I realize I probably shouldn't admit to this behavior, but it's just reality.)

 Make a human connection.
I always take a look at the people around me.
I look into the eyes of the flight attendants and think about their families.
I look at the children and little ones around me and
think about the bright futures they have in front of them.
It seems to help me to think about life in the big context
rather than just me in this little space and time,
hurtling through the air in a metal tube.
(Because that's not scary at all, is it?)
Those are most of my big tricks.
I've usually exhausted them all by the time we are fifteen minutes into the flight.
So, then I just wake up my husband, ask him for his wallet,
tackle a flight attendant and demand a Gin & Tonic.
 (Yes, the pillar of support that is my husband sleeps through all of my internal turmoil.)
Lastly, I would say "Don't be so hard on yourself."
Panic and anxiety are real.  It takes epic effort to control.  It's not fun.  It pretty much sucks.
But, there are many others who get it and understand the
Herculean effort it takes to get on that plane each time.

And it is absolutely worth it!
Now that I've shared something so personal with you, we are destined to be friends.
I hope that you will fly over to Oh, the places we will go! for a visit.
Stay for a while and leave me a comment.  I'd love to hear from you!
(I might even tell you about that time I had a full-blown,
sobbing panic attack throughout a 55-minute flight.)
 What's in your bag of tricks to get you or someone you love through a flight?
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  1. Selena, I really enjoyed this post! You have such a great and personable sense of humor! I actually really love flying, but I know my dad is terrified of flights/heights so I will definitely share these tips with him! I'm excited to check out your blog - you seem like such a sweet and candid woman :)

    The Nectar Collective

  2. I love Selena, and what a great and informative post! As a daughter of a pilot, i love flying. But I know its not everyone's cup of tea. I would not have thought about all the things you had mentioned being that I feel more at home in an airport than elsewhere in the world. So I really loved your insight. Thank you for sharing Selena

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose

  3. I rather enjoy the 'travel' part of flying...not so much the 'sitting-in-an-airplane-for-12-hours' part. I'm like a two year old. After a couple hours sitting in that cramped chair I loose it! Im wiggly, restless, impatient, and cant fall asleep. My poor husband. Thank you for these tips! I'll remember them on my next long trip back home. :)

    -Amanda | Living in Another Language

  4. Ohmygosh- I feel the same way about flying but yes, someone told me planes are made to fly ... They WANT to stay in he air and that really helped. It so helps me to make friends with the ppl around me if I'm on my own so that were chatting while "rough air" happens so it will distract me. I have around 10 flights this summer so I'll definitely be thinking of these tips!!

  5. This post is perfect! I am currently on the first leg of a major vacation (by myself.) On the first (of 4) flights I was sobbing because I was so scared. Thanks Selena for your tips! I'll definitely use them on Sunday for flight number 2!

  6. Great tips! I usually like flying, it is just the landing that makes me uneasy and I spend half the trip dreading the landing! Watching the clock is also a big issue of mine, I definitely need to work on that! Thanks for the list :)

  7. Love your sense of humor in this post, Selena! What a treat to read a guest post that was written by someone with so much with and a candid tone! I enjoyed your tips! I used to love flying but had a bad experience once and now kind of dread the idea. My thought is always, "Can't I just get there already?!" As I head on my next plane ride this coming Wednesday I will silently be thinking (or maybe, to my boyfriend's dismay be saying out loud) "don't feed the monster".

    Best to you,

  8. You're going to think I'm cheating here- but honestly- I have to take a Diazapam to fly. I do it every time since a freakout I had on a flight to Kauai on my honeymoon. Thankfully we were 30 minutes to landing- but I cannot ever go through that again!-- Farrah

  9. I love travel, but definitely struggle with flying. Thanks for sharing this!

  10. I watched Flight about a week before I flew for the very first time. Why I thought that was a smart idea, I'm not really sure. Thankfully there was the sweetest little boy just in front of us who turned around and made silly faces at me the whole ride. If that little two year old can handle it, I figured I could too!


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