I am one of the strange 25-year-olds who does not have wanderlust. I always act like I do, but the truth of the matter is I am not dying to trek. I’m not exactly a homebody, I just completely dive-bombed my normal to move to San Francisco after all, but I am pretty ok with not seeing the 1000 things I’m supposed to see.
It isn’t all about location for me. Scenery is exciting, and new sights and smells make for really beautiful experiences, but I am all about the people I am with. I have had some lovely vacations in pretty average, and even sub-average, locales as well as some awesomely bad vacations in the most incredible cultural settings. I love a beach getaway as much as anyone, but I hate flying more than most. And I think this is the very root of my lack of wanderlust.
I, like you (probably), loved to fly growing up. There was a period of time I didn’t count a vacation as a “really real” vacation, unless you had to get there by plane. Unfortunately, when I was in high school, I had the worst plane experience of my memory and it really ruined all the fun. I mean, call me crazy, but I just didn’t see the adventure in an emergency landing 20 minutes after take off. Especially not one greeted by fire trucks. And before you ask, no, the oxygen masks did not pop out of the ceiling. Another glitch as far as I can tell.
This experience caused me a great deal of stress, but I didn’t stop flying. Instead I flew frequently, in an attempt to nullify the experience. That, and to prove to my air traffic controller dad that it wasn’t personal (though Dr. Drew could probably turn that all around on me).
However, I didn’t just fly. I flew with TONS of baggage, and I don’t mean Samsonite. I flew with superstition your witch doctor couldn’t compete with. My carry-on was often filled with the following: rosary beads, a bible, two Ty stuffed monkeys (not even kidding), and a Destiny’s Child CD. Also, I hated to fly on Thursdays, I didn’t like to sit in the back of the plane, and don’t anyone say John Denver. Writing this out may sound crazy to you. That’s because it is.
Fortunately, I grew out of some of the superstitions over time. This is partially due to flying standby and focusing the anxiety on actually securing a seat, and eventually due to turning 21 and the prevalence of airport bars. What I haven’t fully moved on from is the very real sense of dread that accompanies any upcoming flight.
Recently I have had to fly more often and not because I am testing out future retirement resorts. I have had to muster up the courage to board a plane more times this year than in any given previous year and this has gone a lot of different directions. Some flights found me making peace with everyone I know while giving myself my last rites in the jet way. Other times I have Kristen Wiiged out, with craziness just short of the colonial woman standing on the wing. Let me tell you, I am a fun travel buddy. If you aren’t startled by random yelps during routine turbulence, that is. But more recently, I have geeked-out on plane knowledge. Guess what, the geeks are onto something.
I discovered a website written to me and my people demystifying flights and I have found that a few simple prayers for peace and a really firm grasp on what my plane is doing and why has made this mode of transportation far more enjoyable for me. This past week, I flew quite a long way with a super quick turnaround and I have to get on another plane next week. The fact that I am not brimming with tears is nothing short of a miracle. I can now do this with a little less freakishness.
I’m writing this post for the same reason kids put their artwork on their fridge at home. It’s not even as as classy as a backdoor brag. It’s a fridge door brag. I did something and I want people to know about it because it’s so pretty! I also just wanted to be transparent. There are really capable, smart and fun-loving people who have very real fears, and I think that it’s ok. (See, that was a backdoor brag.)
So to wrap up this moderate to highly self-serving blog post, I want to talk to the fearful fliers and the not-so-fearful fliers:
For those not afraid to fly, please stop sharing your scariest plane story when you meet someone who hates flying. Seriously. I don’t know why that is the first thing everyone does, but it’s truly the worst. Also, don’t follow that up by saying “Are you afraid because of terrorist?s Or, no, because you don’t have any control? Is it because you don’t like how flammable jet fuel is? I bet it’s because you don’t want one of the wings to snap off and send us into a nosedive, isn’t it?” It’s all of the above.
For those afraid to fly, visit FearofFlyingHelp.com and read through everything. Then, realize that you have no less control over your safety on or off of a plane. Order the Bloody Mary and watch a little Bravo TV, and you’ll be landing before you know it.