People who don’t travel talk a lot about the hassles of air travel. The aggravations. The problems. All the reasons they do not fly. Of course, that’s usually an excuse for some other reason.
Like fear of flying.
I get that. I was a fearful flyer once, too. But here’s what I know:
People who don’t travel are missing out on wondrous experiences. I didn’t want to miss those things.
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when I flew cross-country every week for work. So I know a little bit about the hassles of air travel and how to manage them. Note that I said “manage” and not “handle.” You’ll see why as you read on.
The first big step is to PREPARE.
- Book early enough to reserve the seat of your choice, whether it’s exit row, aisle, window or purchase a seat with a little extra space.
- If you can carry your bag onboard, do. Make sure your personal item at your seat has your prescription meds and any OTC meds you might need.
- If you need a neck pillow, get and bring one. Ditto with blanket, snacks, a meal, whatever. Plan for your needs in advance.
- If you’re scheduling a flight with a connection, leave yourself as much wiggle room as possible in case of weather or other schedule delays.
- Let’s talk distractions. Do you like to read? listen to podcasts? watch films or TV shows? rock out to the beat? Whatever you like to do, get ready to do it on the flight. Download away before you leave home. Charge up your device. And get a chargeable case or an extra battery just in case. While you wait for your flight, charge your device somewhere so you board with a full charge. Many airports now have charging stations.
The second big step is SET EXPECTATIONS.
- Understand that very little is in your control: not weather, not the aircraft mechanics, not the effect of other late flights. Take that as a given. No amount of complaining, tantrum or invoking the gods is going to change the situation. Whatever happens will happen no matter what you do.
- So plan how you’ll stay calm if a snafu occurs. Do deep breathing, listen to music — do anything so that these hassles don’t bother you.
And then, PUT YOURSELF IN THE ZONE.
- When it’s your turn to board get in your carefully chosen seat, take out the book, magazine, e-reader, mp3 player, device and prepare to distract yourself.
- As soon as you take off, begin distraction. I used to call it “putting myself into the zone.” That meant I left my body for some other world, transported by what I was reading, watching or listening to. I wasn’t on an airplane, I was in the zone. I completely ignored the flight I was on.
- It’s easy to be in the zone if you plan ahead. I take care of my own food and drink and really, I have no need to engage with anyone, including a flight attendant, unless I want to. Nothing exists but my distraction.
- Stay in that zone. Even if it’s a bumpy flight. I used to be a far more nervous flier than I am now. I’m calm because I put myself in the zone. Every flight. Ask girlfriend, who sat next to me on a 10-hour flight to France. I barely raised my head from my distraction. She’s another Very Frequent Flyer, so neither did she.
- If you do this right you may not even notice that your plane is landing until you’re startled when the wheels hit the runway. That’s happened to me more than once.
So there you have it. Don’t miss out on the wonders of seeing new places. Air travel is manageable with these techniques. Try them and let me know how they work for you.