There are people who don't like to travel. Perhaps it's not the travel itself, but the fear of flying, or what the actual getting to and from a destination entails nowadays. Having just arrived home from a 14.5 hour flight on the worst airline I have ever experienced [Air India. Take my advice: don't use it if you don't have to.], plus two layovers and a final leg home, for a total of more than 34 hours either on a plane or in an airport, right now I am in the mood to identify with the latter group. Thank goodness memories fade with time.
Previously, this column has touched both on how to survive long flights, and the fear of flying. However, I recently ran across an article by Kaeli Conforti of Budget Travel, that offers a few novel ideas for overcoming aerophobia, aka fear of flying.
First, the experts seem to agree that you need to give your phobia a name. One person may fear the takeoff and landing but are fine with the flight itself; a second person may be fine with everything except turbulence; and a germaphobic may be concerned about the spread of germs in a confined space. And, interestingly enough, it turns out 90 percent of flight phobics don't fly because they are afraid they will become overwhelmed with anxiety during the flight. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! So, the first key to overcoming your fear is to define your phobia.
Next, you should familiarize yourself with airplane noises. Sometimes all it takes to combat anxiety is a little information. For instance, all that rattling noise at takeoff and landing is the carry-on luggage and seat-back tables shifting, not the wheels and wings falling off the airplane. Ehotels.com and Jetblue.com each have lists of common airplane noises. For more, try Google.com, with the key phrase 'common airplane in-flight noises.'
Finally, the experts suggest you bring a photo of your destination. Visualization and imagining yourself there can be a powerful antidote to stress – and can help keep you focused on the prize at the end of the journey.
I hope these suggestions will prove helpful to you and/or your aerophobic friend or a loved one.