I was sitting in my seat about to go on an amazing adventure, thinking to myself how the hell do i get out of this? I could say I have to get off the plane and just run for the doors, or I can breath in and out, calm myself, stop overthinking and prepare for takeoff, which is exactly what I did.
I have aviophobia which, put simply, means I am absolutely terrified of flying. It isn’t an anxiety I have experienced before – like if you’ve lost your wallet, fallen over, or you’re late to work. Aviophobia feels huge to me, and I know millions of people suffer from anxiety or phobias and can relate to how debillatating it can be.
I am the crazy person you dont want to sit next to on the plane. I hyperventilate, become sweaty, cry at times, jump around with nerves and rock back and forth.
I know the statistics; flying is actually very safe. If you flew every day it would take 19,000 years to be in a fatal accident. You are more likely to be struck by lightning or bitten by a shark, but phobias are irrational and no matter how much you try and justify how silly you are being, you just can’t.
The first time I realised this fear was when I took my first ever holiday to New Zealand. I was going on a 9 day Contiki in the South Island. The plane took off and I lost all control! The poor lady sitting next to me held onto me for the whole flight and explained that everything was okay, “this is normal pet” she kept saying. The second flight I took I grabbed onto a very cute boy beside me and burst into tears. I think he was more relieved than me when we landed.
My biggest passion in life is travelling. It really does enhance your life, teaches you to live in the moment and value the important things. I’ve only seen a very tiny portion of the world, but I know this has made me a better person. I recently travelled to Bali for 2 weeks. Once I’d landed and the weight of the world felt like it had been lifted off my shoulders, I felt like I had experienced an ‘eat pray love’ style journey. The culture is amazing, and the people are very special.
When I returned home after Bali I wanted to get some help, so I went to a hypnotist. After the session I felt great! The thought of flying didnt scare me, I kept thinking “this is fantastic!” I had a another holiday to Vietnam fast approaching, so the thought of not being scared and actually excited for the holiday was very calming.
When I was sitting on the plane to Vietnam, buckled tightly - the fear came back. Not as severe as before, but the anxiety was definitely there. I kept thinking "I knew it was too good to be true."
Ho Ch Min City was amazing, and I looked around the city and thought about how fortunate I was. I am healthy, have a job that allows me to travel, good friends and family. I will probably always be scared of flying, I still want to try some different options, there is a flying safety course and possibly more hypnosis.
I dont know if I will ever just book a holiday without the feeling fear and dread setting in, but I do know that I dont want a silly fear to stop me from doing something I love. Otherwise, I’d be missing out on what travelling gives you – fufillment, adventure, insight and love. No matter how awful the flying was, the destination and people I met were always well worth it.
So if you have a fear that is holding you back from something – wether it is flying, swimming, or booking that Contiki trip you have been putting off – just do it! We dont want to look back when we are 90 years old thinking about all the things we should’ve done.
Has travel inspired you to overcome a fear or phobia? Share your stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…