Still counting down the days until my move out to Florida; so I wanted to address potentially the one thing that makes me truly nervous about the entire thing…the flight, not the homesickness, not the extreme weather, not even the moving in process, the long-haul flight, on my own, for the first time.
Even from a very young age I’ve never enjoyed flying, couple that with motion sickness (which can appear as quickly as being in a vehicle for half an hour), and anxiety, particularly due to the feeling of being trapped, flying is not my favourite activity. I wanted to write a post explaining the three main things I focus on, relating to how to possibly relieve some anxiety or upset during the travel process, including the airport, as I know many students will be taking trips this summer, potentially like me, without their families or friends.
1.Plan, Plan & Plan:
Although you’re never guaranteed a trip without issues, whether that’s flight delays, a problem at security or even a lot of turbulent once you’re in the air; there are however many things you can control. Where possible make plans or do some research so you have an idea of what’s going on.
Choosing your plane seat can be a very good idea, especially when travelling alone; I’ve opted for a window seat to help me to zone out and feel less trapped, whilst also being nearer the front of the plane where logically I’ll feel less motion, hopefully keeping sickness at bay. I’ve also looked up other smaller things like the shops and food available at the airport, and even the in-flight entertainment. Most people think it’s strange I know what films are available, but for me it’s a big distraction and actually gives me something to look forward to about flying, rather than just feeling stressed and upset about the situation. Planning also applies after you’ve got off the plane; booking a taxi to your accommodation can be really comforting, since you know they’ll be someone waiting for you at the end of your journey.
The airport is not a fashion parade and when you’re taking a long haul flight, I think looks are the least of your worries. You may want to wear some makeup in the airport, particularly if this gives you a confidence boost, however when choosing an outfit, comfort and practicality is key. My two main criteria for flight clothes is lose and the potential for layers. It’s common for your body to swell on an airplane so stretchy cotton trousers and a loose fitting top are always my go too, so regardless of my slight fluctuation in size I remain comfy. Equally layering is good as you never know when you’ll be too hot or too cold; plus often you’ll have a hoodie you find comforting in some way, they’re often nice to have on fights for familiarity. (Popping some cozy socks in your flight bag, and taking your shoes off after take-off can also be a nice option.)
Once you’re actually on the plane it’s a good idea to find a good comfy position before take-off; adjust your seatbelt, get everything out of your flight bag that you think you’ll want, so everything is to hand (such as a water bottle, headphones and chewy sweets, even a couple of bags if you’re prone to nausea), and sit back into your chair. I also have a neck pillow, which I can’t do without; mine was a little bit pricey, as it’s made of memory foam, but it’s definitely made a difference for me, as it makes my head feel secure and comfortable, but any sort of pillow or headrest could really help.
3.It’s Okay to Panic:
Panic attacks happen sometimes, and there’s nothing really to stop them once they’ve started. If you have a read back to my post about exam anxiety you’ll find a few different calming techniques you could also use in this situation, however what I really want to stress is that it’s okay to have one, and even tell the people around you how you feel.
Whenever I’ve regrettably vomited on a journey I’ve become very panicked and upset, but, even though it’s not a pleasant situation, people are more than willing to help you; flight attendants are trained and ultimately paid to help you, so don’t feel guilty for asking for help, or perhaps even pointing out you get very nervous on flights before take-off. Equally it’s also fine to point this out to flight attendants whilst also adding you don’t want to be asked “Are you okay?”, (I hate being asked this by anyone, including my own family, because it makes me focus on how I’m feeling and the situation I’m in, i.e. I’ll often feel more nauseous because someone has asked me about it), rather you just want to make them aware you might ask for a glass of water or two during the flight.
Millions of people get nervous, upset, nauseous, anxious etc. on flights, it’s totally okay to admit you’re one of them, rather than punishing yourself and trying to suppress how you feel.
I think I’ve rambled on for quite enough, but hopefully this has at least made some of you feel a little better about upcoming travels. Undoubtedly I’ll probably update you in a later post about how my first solo flight went, but until then I wish you all happy and safe journeys.
Take Care Everyone, I’ll Speak to You All Soon!