Summer Musings

And so another April shows itself in a fury of chirping birds, balmy breezes, and spring showers. The Quad is littered with too-cute puppies, green grass, and a maze of brightly colored beach towels and abandoned text books. I am forever amazed at how quickly summer rolls around each year and the anticipation is always palpable in the air; this year is no different aside from the persnickety weather (a.k.a., the high number of impromptu snow storms we have received this year). But what’s a broke upcoming senior college student to do with the impending freedom that is visible just over the horizon? The finish line in only four weeks out and talk of summer plans has begun.

Well, let’s see. I could sit at home… or I could brave the five hour long flight to Los Angeles with my parents and their group of SMAD students. The trip is sure to bring a variety of hip restaurants, a trip to Warner Bros Studio, and some beach time. But here’s my problem, where I always get stuck: the flight.

Most people have experienced the hell that is the security checkpoints in every airport. But that is not the problem; I’ll gladly downsize my economy sized (now 33% more in every bottle!) conditioner into a TSA approved two ounce container and leave liquids at home. For some people it could be the airport food that’s a problem (and believe me I’ve been there), but that’s not it either. Is it the “now even more leg room”, but still completely tiny, coach seats one must endure? No. Not even that can deter me from flying.

Maybe it’s the high probability that you’ll end up on a flight with a fussy baby, your luggage will be lost, or you’ll be forced to do the awkward dance to squeeze past the people between you and the bathroom? Or the dilemma of the comfort a window seat offers versus an aisle seat which boasts easy accessibility? Or the possibility that there will be no in-flight movie? Not to mention, flights are cutting down on free beverage services. Again, no. None of this is an issue!

Ok, I will end the suspense. It is the sheer terror that inevitably ensues when I set foot on a plane. The “I just felt turbulence, this is where I will die, my life is incomplete, why did I agree to this?” feeling. Cold sweats and hot flashes, intense nausea, racing heartbeat, and white knuckling the arm rest are all tell tale signs of an anxious flier. Some rare but possible signs include gasping loudly at a sudden descent in altitude or grabbing the stranger’s hand next to you (I haven’t gotten there yet). Without fail, every year someone will tell me “you’re more likely to die in a car accident than you are to die in a plane accident,” to which I reply “that means nothing to me.”

So from one nervous flier to another, here are some practical tips to make it through your summer trips:

  • Statistics can’t solve everything, but some of the numbers are somewhat comforting, so check them out
  • Breathe! In and out, in and out. Don’t stop.
  • Close your eyes and as soon as you’re allowed, switch on your iPod to the most calming music you can find. I recommend Greg Laswell
  • Arrive plenty early to allow yourself time to get settled
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they could exacerbate your anxiety
  • Travel with a good friend
  • Most importantly, bring a good book or movie to distract yourself
  • Finally, if the anxiety is not able to be calmed, consider talking to your doctor about a mild sedative you can take before you board
  • Visit this site for more tips

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