Photo by Safwan Mahmud on Unsplash

A Student’s Guide to air travel

I went on my first flight when I was around a year old. Obviously, I can’t remember it, but my mum assures me that I spent the whole time watching Disney films and playing with dolls relatively calmly. 18 years later, I wish flying were still that easy.

Despite having a huge passion for air travel, I have suffered from flight-related anxiety and horrible travel sickness intermittently throughout my life, to the point where I used to dread getting on a plane, unable to even think about my destination because I felt like something would go terribly wrong before we could land. This is especially irritating considering the fact that my dad lives approximately 17 hours away by plane. I remember one particularly harrowing flight, in which I found myself a mile above anyone I knew, repeatedly throwing up for 24 hours straight and being too frightened of the turbulence to leave my seat and go to the toilet. Thankfully, since this trip I have made huge strides in being able to deal with plane journeys and they are now in fact one of my favourite parts of travelling. If you struggle flying, hopefully I can give you some of the tips that have helped me become so comfortable with it.

My number one suggestion for anyone on a trip longer than five hours or so is that you must eat! It may seem obvious, but for me this was the biggest factor in my journey to enjoying flights. Bring your most fun, favourite snacks (I always treat myself to a pick n’ mix from ASDA) that you can dip in and out of. If you are on a flight in which meals are provided free of charge, make an effort to try them, no matter how unappealing they may look or smell, particularly if you suffer from travel sickness. In fact, after not eating on planes for ten years for fear of it making me feel sicker, I was pleasantly surprised by the food that was offered to me (the desserts on Virgin Atlantic flights are truly amazing). Even if you only have something small, it will without a doubt do you the world of good.

It’s become a superstition for me to always watch The Muppets (2011) whenever I fly

Something that hugely helps me with the anxiety of flying is indulging in my comfort shows and films downloaded on my phone or, if you’re on a longer flight, the in-flight entertainment system. It’s become a superstition for me to always watch The Muppets (2011) whenever I fly, simply because it’s a fun, low stakes, low-concentration movie that I can quote by heart and will always feel reassured in knowing what’s coming next compared to the relative chaos of flying. I always vow that I’ll catch up on all the new releases and make the most of the time I’ll have in the sky but, in all honesty, my concentration will never hold out that long and, if you’re anything like me, time will go so much faster if you just focus on what you’re familiar with.

The airport is full of people whose job it is to help me, and I shouldn’t have to face suffering in silence

I get very easily overwhelmed, particularly in situations where there is a risk of getting lost and so, by this logic, airports themselves should be a nightmare for me: the crowds, the endless terminals and the signs often in a completely foreign language. However, after having to do a fair amount of solo travelling, I have realised that if you feel lost or scared, the very best thing you can do is talk to someone. This is again an obvious sounding tip but often I completely forget that the airport is full of people whose job it is to help me, and I shouldn’t have to face suffering in silence.

I hope that these tips and tricks can be of help to anyone who may be apprehensive of flying or suffers from motion sickness (one final tip on that front: Sea Bands and Stugeron have been absolute godsends for me). Flying should be an exciting experience, but it often ends up being overwhelming and uncomfortable. Hopefully some of my suggestions might make for a slightly more enjoyable trip through the clouds, as we get closer to travelling the world once again!


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