The last plane ride I took involved me not quite sobbing for most of the journey and actually weeping for some of it, while simultaneously trying to calm Fran who kept panicking that the call button chime meant disaster was imminent and quell Amelie who wanted detailed explanations of the emergency procedures sign plastered 5 inches from her nose on the seat in front.
If you are a nervous flier, “mummy, why is there a cloud of smoke in that cartoon?” is not a question you want to be answering.
While I’ve never been a great flier, as my Facebook friend who knew me at 14 and held my hand through the turbulent trip back from a school ski-ing holiday will tell you, I seem to have got far worse since having children. I’ve reached the point now where a sneaky weekend away would be too difficult because my entire trip would be overshadowed by knowing I had to fly back. I’m none too keen on tunnels either, which means I’m pretty much confined to visiting places I can get to by boat.Preferably in a dead calm, since the husband gets sea sick on a pond. A recent conversation with my mum about a trip away left me realising how much I’m limited by this fear now and how, with very small opportunity for flying to become a familiar pass time, I’m unlikely to overcome it.
The truth is, with 5 children and a tight budget, I’m not likely to be jetting off any time soon. Our holidays are firmly in the “tent in Devon” category but how I wish I had the nerve to plan a 20 year anniversary trip to the Lanzarote with Max – and I just don’t. There are so many destinations in the world that I grew up hearing about as school friends jetted off on to hot summery holidays and that’s one that always appealed; beaches to explore and lounge on, year round warm temperatures that meant their holidays didn’t have to begin with rain dances and packing the waterproofs and sweaters, water sports to get excited about and hotel entertainment to come home sparkly eyed and enthused about. I’ve never seen a volcano, or explored the old town on an island and even if I did have the bottle for the flight, my restaurant choices are likely to be of the child friendly variety for some time to come! I’m frustrated and irritated by the fact that the costs of overseas holidays are coming down but my fear of actually getting to a family destination that would excite us all has gone up to unmanageable proportions. And even though I adore my family holiday with all of us, a tent and a Devon moor, I’d love to rediscover some romance with my husband somewhere exciting and exotic. It’s been way too long since life was anything other than prosaic.
It probably seems an irrational fear but I have to say I think my logic is impeccable; I don’t like heights, small spaces or relying on other people not to be nutters, which all adds up to aeroplane journeys feeling a touch too dangerous for me, plus I can’t fly, which means if I do suddenly find myself outside of the plane, I’m out of options. I really like having options. I do everything with half an eye cocked to an escape route and I can’t do that on a plane; at least if a ferry sinks I might manage to swim for a while at least.
More seriously I realise that this more literally and metaphorically shrinks my world. I’ve lost the nerve to experiment with travel (admittedly I’m not actually turning down blogging ambassador overseas holidays!) through my fear of flight and that is impacting on my confidence as a person. It’s not nice when you know you are AFRAID of something, it makes you reduce in confidence in other places too. Even a recent trip to Liverpool felt a big deal. And statistically I know that falling out of the sky is fairly unlikely and most holidays have uneventful journeys, it’s just that statistics have not been my friend these last 2 decades.
It’s the fear of fear I hate; I’m afraid of sitting on a plane knowing that something is going wrong and no less afraid of going across the country and finding I’m out of my depth. And perhaps I need to face this fear and get on a plane and go away and do some holidays and romantic weekends – and possibly wash them down with wine and Valium.
After all, I made it home from Liverpool. What could possibly go wrong?
Disclosure: this post is in association with First Choice Holidays