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August 08, 2015

How to Overcome Fear of Flying

Love to travel, but hate flying? Don't worry, there are ways to overcome that, says our travel consultant, R.L.

by R.L.

Dear R.L.,
I love traveling but I'm terrified of flying. Several days before flying, I wouldn't be able to sleep, and the moment I board the plane, my palms get sweaty and I'm paralyzed by fear. I try to distract myself by reading or listening to music, but to no avail. Sleeping pill doesn't work either. Do you have any tips?
Dear G,
The key here is distraction.

According to British Airways, watching images of cute animals can lower your heart rate and reduce stress. But if you think staring at puppies and kittens and baby otters for more than 10 minutes actually make your blood boil, take a cue from the little people. There is a reason why kids are supplied with plenty of games and activities during long trips. It sure keeps them from focusing on the journey and thus keeps jitters and tantrums away. Full fare airlines provide lots of games for children and adults alike, but better bring your own, as using the mini screen just reminds you that you're unnaturally trapped in a flying steel bird that CAN CRASH ANYTIME OMG WTF NOOOOO!
Install lots of addictive games in your gadget of choice, and make sure you choose games that have just the right level of difficulty. If it's too easy, you'd get bored and put the game away, but if it's too difficult, you'd get frustrated and put the game away. Play something that will keep you on your toes throughout the flight. I myself prefer adventure games. I know I advised against using the airline-provided games earlier, but if you're particularly competitive, Singapore Airlines offer multiplayer games where you can play with fellow passengers.
Another distraction, which I think is particularly useful for social media crazy Indonesians, is the Wi-Fi. Most major airlines now offer onboard Wi-Fi at a more and more reasonable price, so you can upload selfies and send your followers minute by minute #humblebrag updates on your social media of choice (all of them, of course). Responding to their "Liburan ke mana? Asik dech" (Nice! Where’re you going?) and their "Waaa oleh2 ya say" (Whoa, don’t forget to bring me something) requests should keep you busy until meal time, then it's time for a quick snap of the soggy, bland "food" and more updates.
If you prefer social diversion, that has something to do with flesh and blood humans in your vicinity, KLM’s Meet & Seat service allows passengers to upload personal information and pick a seat next to someone with similar interests. Virgin America allows you to send a drink to a fellow passenger through its system, and Etihad lets you e-chat with other people aboard. 
Safe travels!
*Illustration by Ian D. Keating
**Here's what R.L. had to say about hooking up with fellow travellers.
Follow R.L.’s adventures through her Instagram account @stelivena.
Send your travel-related questions -- in English or Bahasa Indonesia -- to [email protected] with the subject 'The Ahasuerus Files' or tweet us @the_magdalene.