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Overcoming fear of flying

When I took my career break, I decided to go on a round-the-world trip. I happily sauntered into the travel agents, booked my 10 flights, sauntered out again, then remembered that I’m afraid of flying.

I know that sounds odd. But my fear of flying had developed fairly recently. I had been in the US on September 11th and there was a real climate of fear there, which had rubbed off on me. Flying from Las Vegas to New York was the first time I’d ever even thought about terrorists or plane crashes. And I was scared.

However, the best way of overcoming fear is to face it head-on. I am lucky that my fear was the apprehensive kind, rather than the all out terrified proper phobia that some people experience. For the latter, there are all kinds of desensitisation methods, hypnotism techniques, and fear of flying courses. For the former, here are some tips that I learnt to make flying easier.

  1. Fly somewhere. It doesn’t matter where, if you put it off, your fear will get worse.
  2. Fly long-haul at first. The planes are bigger which is generally less scary than a small one.
  3. Don’t sit by the window, sit as near to the middle as possible. I couldn’t look out of a plane window for nearly a year because I kept thinking how far it was to fall.
  4. In turbulence, close your eyes and pretend you’re on a coach on a bumpy road. It makes it feel less precarious.
  5. If you’re worried about your ears, take a scuba diving course. They will teach you how to equalise the pressure properly so it doesn’t hurt.
  6. If you’re worried about being sick, take ginger, travel sickness pills and wristbands. All of them, at the same time.
  7. Walk around when you can. It gives you something to do, helps you feel physically better, and can help you to feel more stable.
  8. Choose who to tell about your fear. If the person next to you looks like a seasoned flier, they will probably have something reassuring to say. If they look like a ‘joker’, keep schtum.
  9. Put some favourite music on your player and stick your earphones in. Better still, listen to an engrossing audiobook or podcast. Distraction is a great way of dealing with fear.
  10. Remind yourself that thousands of people fly every day and it really is a safe way to travel.

You can get over a fear of flying – I’m fine now! Even if you have a proper phobia about flying, it is possible to overcome it, and even to enjoy flying. And once you have, the world is your oyster.

This article was written by Rachel Morgan-Trimmer of www.thecareerbreaksite.com which has information and advice on all aspects of career breaks, including round-the-world travel.

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