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I have a confession.
I am terrified of flying. Well, that's not true. It's the crashing part that really scares me.
Out of all possible phobias, this is the one I'm cursed with. Quite an inconvenience for someone who dreams of traveling the world.
While others sleep soundly around me, I'm awake and alert to all possibilities of an engine failure, a wing breaking off, a lightning strike, a terrorist explosion. Dramatic, I know.
During my flight home from Tokyo to L.A a few weeks ago, I experienced the worst turbulence I have ever experienced in 17 years of flying,
The jolts were pretty violent. The plane dropped several times, too, causing some people to let out a few yelps (including me). Passengers were gripping at their armrests, and heads were constantly turning trying to find comfort in the eyes of others. I didn't cry only because I was in a state of shock thinking those were the last minutes of my life - in the middle of the night somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
After the flight finally smoothed out, I had so much adrenaline in my veins that when I tried to stand up my knees shook and gave out, and I fell back in my seat.
Sounds crazy, I know. But I also know there are many people that can relate. Statistically, 1 in 10.
Once I'm in the air and we've reached cruising altitude, I'm okay - for the most part. But with every bump, a voice in my head lets out a scream. Not an OH-MY-GOD-WHAT-IS-HAPPENING?! scream. I mean... I'm not that crazy. It's more like "No more! No more bumps, pleeease!"
I suppose flying over a storm is better than flying through one.
Six years ago, I was flying back from Brazil by myself, from Sao Paulo to Atlanta. The pilot came on the intercom and informed the passengers there was a large thunderstorm we were flying over in the Amazon. This wasn't a warning of turbulence or to fasten our seatbelts. He simply wanted us to take a look at the "colorshow" of whites, yellows, and orange as the lightning danced around thousands of feet below us.
As passengers leaned over each other and smashed their faces on the windows to have a look of this "beautiful" spectacle, my fear became overwhelming. My stomach dropped, I was sweating, my hands and legs had a mind of their own. I started fidgeting. I could hear my heart racing. Heavy breathing. But in the midst of my distress, I found comfort. The young (and cute) guy next to me clearly noticed my panic and grabbed my hand (I didn't protest). In a very calm voice he introduced himself in Portuguese -he was also Brazilian- and called one of the flight attendants over and asked for her to bring me some tea. I apologized and told him how embarrassed I was, but he changed the subject so we could talk about happier things.
The flight attendant came to check on me once more and told me how she's been flying for years and has gone through some awful turbulence, but planes are designed to withstand it - even lightning (which happens more often than you think).
I'll keep flying.
Sleeping pills don't help. Benadryl doesn't help. Surprisingly, wine didn't really help. Instead, the battle of adrenaline vs. sleeping pills ends with me and a massive headache. However, I'm going to keep flying and keep traveling because that's my passion and there's too much world to see. Although I'm still tense every time I get in a plane, my fear is not nearly as bad as it was six years ago. Especially after that crazy turbulence I endured coming back from Japan and after hearing others tell their flying "horror" stories, I now really know just how much these planes are designed to handle (but I still wish to never go through it again).
If you sense that uneasiness when you enter a plane, just remember those deep breaths and listen to some relaxing music.
If you've never flown because you're too scared, please, please don't let that hold you back. There are so many awesome destinations out there waiting to be explored.
Also, there are many 'fear of flying' courses out there! Don't be ashamed of having this phobia. So if you feel like you can't muster the courage to just buy a plane ticket and face your fears, try one of these courses with others who, like you, are trying to conquer that fear.
The view really is quite beautiful from up in the air! :)
Hi there! I'm Skeeter. I grew up moving a lot and that makes me a bit restless for travel and exploration. I started this blog with my husband Pat when we decided to backpack New Zealand for a year. We are always looking for the next adventure and are loving life. We're just your average couple with two sassy dogs and a love for travel. We're sharing our travels and the tips we pick up along the way.
Hello! I'm Liz. Blogging is very new to me, but I'm so excited to finally write as much as I talk!
"Don't forget to travel happy"-Skeeter & Liz