Thursday, 16 April 2015

May's tips for nervous flyers

Photo of view from plane window
OK, so I am in no way medically or scientifically qualified. What follows are simply some tips from one nervous flyer to (maybe)another, in the hope that it will help to make your next flight a little easier.

Of course, you could sign up for a nervous flyer course, see your doctor about taking medication, learn the science behind flying or try hypnotherapy (or Mack's tactic of downing a few G&Ts, if you're old enough and not driving after you land*...), but the following has helped me out on a few occasions. As it is now only a few days until my next flight, I hope they will not let me down!

Anyway, on to the tips...
photo of I believe I can fly caption

1. Take something with you to keep your mind occupied. It doesn't help me to have spare time to think about how many hours of the flight are left or the fact that I'm 35,000 foot in the air and there's nothing I can do about it. Reading doesn't work for me, unless I'm into a really, really good book that I just can't take my mind off, but I have got used to downloading a new TV series onto my ipad and maybe watching the first episode before I go so that I know I am going to be looking forward to getting stuck into the rest. I have watched numerous episodes of Mad Men this way and it works a treat. This time round, I'm going for The Paradise. If you're on a long haul flight, you can usually check the airline's website beforehand to see what films will be playing. You will know that at least you've got a few hours accounted for then. Oh, and a glossy magazine keeps me going during take off....although I do find I read the same line a few times and have no idea what it says!

2. Drink enough water during the flight. I know that sounds really banal, but something as simple as keeping hydrated is really important for helping you to feel on top of things and should starve off any headaches or queasy tummies.

3. Get as comfortable as you can. Not always the easiest thing on planes, but comfy socks, a squishy pillow and a lavender or eucalyptus oil can help you settle and feel slightly less as though you are in a completely alien environment. I always, always take some Aromatherapy Associates Support Breathe Essence and usually pop a couple of drops onto a neck pillow.

4. Play music. Personally I hate hearing the engine noises changing and always jump to the conclusion that it means there is something wrong (rather than the plane simply slowing down, climbing higher or whatever logical answer there actually is...). My way round this is to stick headphones on (noise cancelling ones if possible) the minute I can and not take them off again until cabin crew force me to do so. If I am not awake enough to be watching films or TV shows, or I'd just rather have my eyes closed for some reason, then a good playlist is the way forward. I'd love to say that I go for relaxing music, because that would make a lot of sense, but actually I find that heavier music works better for me. I'm not great at forcing myself to try and relax when that seems a million miles off. On my last long haul flight I think I listened to the entire Red Hot Chili Peppers back catalogue.

5. Sit at the front of the plane (if you can). If there is going to be any turbulence, it will be felt more strongly towards the back of the plane. It has been explained to me that turbulence is just the flying equivalent of a bumpy road - it doesn't tend to last too long, it's nothing to worry about, and if you're at the back of the car/ plane you'll notice it more than those up front.

6.Notice those around you. As well as being an excellent excuse for people watching, notice that there are several other people on the same flight as you, in the same situation and not getting overrun with panic (lucky them!). Safe air travel happens ALL THE TIME. We've all heard the stats about it being safer flying than the drive to the airport etc etc. If you experience turbulence, you'll probably see that plenty of other passengers are still reading their newspapers, completely unfazed.  Plenty of people can tell you 'scare stories' about bumpy or 'bad' flights they've been on - you might not want to hear them, but bear in mind that all of those people have lived to tell the tale, and have almost certainly enjoyed their holidays and not been deterred from future flights.

7. Be organised. If you're anything like me, the whole palaver of getting to the airport, checking in, getting to security, hanging around and then finding your gate is a big deal. My only tip here is to get organised. Make sure you have got everything you might want or need on the plane in your hand luggage; check for any restrictions on cabin bag sizes and liquids before you even think about packing (I have been that person frantically unpacking and repacking at the check-in desk and it does nothing for the nerves!); make sure you know how to get to the airport, have left plenty of time and know what you're doing about parking; don't wear shoes that are difficult to slip off at security; and, once you're through security, check whether your gate is a 2 min walk or a 15 min train journey from where all the shops (and you!) are.

photo of a passport and eye mask

photo of aromatherapy associates support breathe essence oil

I hope these nervous flyer tips help you on your next flight. Feel free to let me know yours - the more the merrier!

* butt-covering disclaimer alert ;)

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