Humans are not meant to be airborne — or at least that’s what people like me, who are terrified of flying, like to tell whoever is sitting next to us on our transatlantic. Like most others who share this particular fear, my early life was characterized by carefree travel. It wasn't until my early 20s that I started panicking every time I needed to catch a plane. I became certain that this would be the flight to buck all those safety statistics.
Still, Pinterest boards and Instagram photos taunted me. Everyone photographed in travel imagery frolics or lounges — there's no sign of the shaky mess I become just thinking about flying to the Caribbean or Santorini. When I fly, I have to dose up on anti-anxiety medication just to step on board, and then I sleep my way to the destination.
I’m not the only wannabe adventurer that gets uncomfortable on airplanes. Technology has evolved far faster than human biology, so while we want to be as futuristic as the machines we’ve built, I like to think our more basic instincts are still catching up. To me, everything about being in an airplane — sitting in cramped quarters, not being in control, being literal miles up in the air — makes me feel in danger, like prey.
I have faith that all of us can conquer this fear. To test the theory, I’ve compiled techniques for combating the phobia, in hopes of making everybody's dreams of far-flung adventuring come true. As is the case with any treatment, not every solution presented will be a cure-all; what may work for one could do nothing for another. And it’s important to treat any phobia conquest as a gradual process that (like, oh hey, an airplane flight) will have its ups and downs.