I have always been a girl on the go. Whether I am running off to an audition, visiting friends, or traveling for business - I love packing my bags and heading to the airport. My ambitious nature coupled with my love of traveling has often led my friends to call me Carmen San Diego. If I have an opportunity, I am packing my bags and rolling.
Lately, my love of traveling has been plagued by flight anxiety. Every time I check into my flight and board a plane my anxiety kicks in. About a year ago, I experienced two very turbulent flights back to back. I honestly thought we were going to drop out of the sky and my last meal was going to be the macaroon's I'd picked up from my favorite bakery in NYC.
After that flight, I decided I couldn't let two bad experiences deter me from traveling the world. I told myself, I will conquer this new fear no matter how much time it takes. I have formulated my very own flight plan. Yes, a flight plan. My flight plan is composed of 5 steps I take before every flight. I know I am not the only person out there that feels anxiety during air travel, so I am sharing my flight plan with you below:
We've all heard the statement, "Traveling by plane is safer than traveling by car." There are many statistics and data to back that up, but for someone like me, that is battling flight anxiety that information isn't enough to calm my anxious mind. Taking the time to research how planes work has helped me. This article from Conde Nast Traveler is one that I read often along with this article from askthepilot.com. Both articles are informative and offer insight on the science of turbulence in a way that is relatable.
2. Fly With An Airline You Trust
All airlines are not created equal. I have learned that over the course of my travel experience. I have found that when I fly Delta I am more at ease. There is a certain level of comfort I get each time I board one of their aircraft's. The elevated service they provide along with their dedication to customer service is important to me as a traveler.
3. Say No To Caffeine
I prefer to take early flights. I am an explorer by nature and like to spend as much time in the city I am visiting as possible. Rolling out of bed at 4:30 am to catch a 7:30 am flight generally meant I was looking for the first coffee shop I saw when I made it to the airport. Bad idea. Along with dehydrating me on a flight, coffee caused my nervous energy to soar. No pun intended. (Okay, maybe it was.) Instead of coffee, I have a green juice to start my day. It hydrates me and gives me natural energy that doesn't make me jittery or anxious.
3. Stop Running
You get the flight reminder to your phone, look at the clock, and realize you're now running late. You're now clocking every minute you have to finish packing your bag, call your Uber, and get out the door. If you live in a city like Atlanta, you have to account for traffic too. You make it the airport. Now, you anxiously wait in the TSA line praying your flight doesn't take off without you. You get through TSA, book it to your terminal just before the gate closes, and plop down into your seat. You made it! Now how do you feel after all of that? My guess would be stressed. This is how I arrived for my flights 85% of the time.
I have found that when I arrived with 30 minutes to spare after going through security, I am calmer on my flights. Now, this is my ritual. I plan ahead. I pack the night before, plan my day before I go to sleep the previous day, and set an alarm for an hour before I need to leave home.
4. Just Breathe
Woosah. As my anxiety increases, my breaths get shallow. My yoga practice is one of many ways I manage my stress. I now apply the breathing techniques I learn in my classes to my flight plan. As my palms get sweaty and my heart starts to pound, I close my eyes and start to breathe. I do this until my thoughts calm, the tension in my body releases, and my breathing becomes slow and steady. This process can help instantly or I may have to revisit it throughout my journey, but at least I now know how to calm my anxious mind.
5. Make a Rockin' Calming playlist
Music is one of the things I can't travel without. I now have a playlist especially for flying. It is filled with songs that lift me up and calm my mind. Right now Yuna, Coldplay, Rihanna, Jill Scott, Kehlani, Big K.R.I.T, and BJ the Chicago Kid are my go to artist.
I hope my flight plan is helpful if you are an anxious flyer like me.
We all have places to be and dreams to make reality, with that said there is no time to let fear stop us from conquering the world.