To jump start my travel journey, I ended up saying yes to a flight in a float plane around my lake. With the help of a family friend, a trained Air Canada pilot I felt extremely in control of the situation because I was able to go down when I had enough of being up in the air. Armed with the knowledge that I was able to go up in a teeny tiny float plane, I knew that I would be mentally strong enough to handle a 5 hour flight to Vancouver.
Naturally the night before the flight I barely slept. Alana and I had to get to the airport for 5am, which in hindsight was an excellent time because I had no time to dwell on my fear of flying. Surprisingly, I was extremely calm throughout the whole check in process which I credit to my avoidance of caffeine for the entire week prior. Earlier that summer I had learned caffeine amplified my anxiety.
As I boarded the plane I realized that it was a larger plane than I had envisioned with a third row of chairs in the middle. *starts to panic. This wasn’t what I had planned for. OH GOD how will it get in the air? Deep breath, deep breath, just sit down and start talking to Alana. I sat down and started talking to Alana and pulled out my drawing book. The plane eventually began moving. That was it, no time to escape, you are doing it. Up we went and it wasn’t as bad as I had remembered. It certainly was uncomfortable until the plane leveled out but I did not cry or panic, success! I found focusing on drawing mandala prints and colouring them in while also listening to a movie was a great distraction technique. I also pre-booked an aisle seat so I would have additional leg room and not have to look out the window.
When we landed in Vancouver I felt elated, I had made it! I spent 11 unbelievable full days back in Vancouver and Whistler hiking, biking, visiting with family and soaking up the west coast views (see pics). I even traveled alone from Whistler back to Vancouver when Alana went to her yoga retreat. It was extremely empowering to know that I could handle it, I did not crumble into a ball of nerves.
I was still quite nervous to fly back by myself but I knew if I had gotten here, I could get home. During the flight home I joked with the man beside me about how I was a nervous flyer so I may chat with him, he kindly assured me that would be okay. When the time came for takeoff I was once again focused on drawing and did not need to speak to the man as a result of nerves. I can’t even begin to tell you what an incredible feeling it was to manage a fear that I have been thinking about for years.
Now after all this, don’t think I can just easily hop on a plane and jet set across the ocean. The fear is still there. I will always have travel anxiety, I just have a few more tools to deal with it. Luckily the urge to travel and see the world is also there so I will continue to push myself. A quote that helps describe this feeling best is “Feel the fear and do it anyways”. I never want to let fear win.
Have you ever been anxious to travel? How do you cope?