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Champagne and Valium

I can’t really pinpoint when my fear started. I guess it must have been about 15 years ago, after my Qantas days, but there was no traumatic event that triggered it. It has neither rhyme nor reason. And I cannot reason with it. Any little nuance in noise or change in vibration can have me clutching the armrest, or suddenly finding religion.

My name is Camilla and I am an aviophobic. Now this will come as no surprise to most of you, especially those that have been on planes with me. Although I would say that my fear is more of falling rather than flying, they are part and parcel of the same thing. Aviophobia. Did you realise that as many as 1 in 4 people have a fear of flying? That’s a whole bunch of people who find air travel anything from slightly unnerving to downright terrifying.

For me, take off is what I dread the most. As soon as we are up and that seatbelt sign is switched off I can mostly relax. A friend I used to travel with for business would keep me talking and laughing every take off to distract me (Thanks Donna). Now I just try to focus on something other than being in a plane, mostly I try to think about the destination and what adventures await. A glass of champagne never goes astray either!

Turbulence does not bother me too much, though my kids may disagree with that statement. In my defence we were on the tail end of a typhoon, it was the severest of severe turbulence, and even the crew who were buckled in near us were pale and sweating. And swearing. A friend of mine who has worked with the Qantas Fearless Flyers course once reassured me that turbulence in a plane is no different to bumps on the road when in a car, and that has stuck with me. (Thanks Andrea)

I have listed below some methods that are meant to help combat this fear. Not all of them are tried and tested, so I welcome feedback on any you may have put to the test.

1/ Fear of Flying courses as mentioned above. I know the Qantas one has great results, but I would love to know the stats 7 or 10 years down the track – are these success stories still flying? The people I have spoken to who have actually done the course speak very highly of it, so it is definitely worth looking at.

2/ Hypnotherapy. Now this I have tried and what a waste of money it was. Once again though I know it has worked for others. Be sure to book a reputable hypnotherapist, and preferably one who specialises in helping with aviophobia.

3/ If alcohol and self-medication work for you, I am not going to judge. Whatever gets you on a plane is a winner as far as I am concerned.

4/ Choose the best seat for you. If turbulence gets the heart racing and brings you out in a cold sweat, do not sit down the back. This is where I was for the above mentioned typhoon flight, the very last row. So I know what I am talking about. The closer you can get to the pointy end the better; it’s a much smoother ride up there.

5/ Pranayama. I have to confess yoga and I are not friends. Yes I know how good it is for you, it’s the fountain of youth blah blah. But we still don’t get on. The one thing I will say though is that learning pranayama deep breathing has been a blessing. It lowers my heart rate and helps me relax. Of course no amount of deep breathing is going to work when flying through the tail end of a typhoon. In that case always revert back to number 3.

6/ Take your cue from the crew. If they do not look like they are in panic, then there is no reason for you to be. Hopefully they are calm and smiling, offering you chicken or the beef.

7/ Watch movies, listen to music or read a book. All with noise cancelling headphones on. Even for the book. They are pretty good at blocking out all those worrisome little noises.

8/ Do not watch Air Crash Investigations within a week of getting on a plane.

These days I am nowhere near as bad as I used to be, a fact for which all those who travel with me are rejoicing in. Although I still try to not fly on anything smaller than a 737.

If you have a remedy that works for you please let me know – it may just help someone get on a plane.

P.S There are no photos with this post. There are enough problems in the world without adding photos of me hysterical at 30000 feet.

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