Confessions of a travel blogger,  Sunday social travel talk

Confessions of a travel blogger part 3: about my irrational fear of flying…

I just stepped off my 29th flight this year and am once again extremely happy to be back on solid ground with both of my feet. I’ve been thinking for a while what my newest “confessions” should be about. On one of my recent flights, where the plane was shaking like crazy during landing and I was ready to say goodbye, I figured I’d make a “my irrational fear of flying edition”.

I hate flying!!! 
The actual flying that is. I don’t mind the time it takes and can’t be bothered by the inconvenience of being stuck in the same space with more than 200 people for about 15 hours. I just hate the actual feeling of being up in the air with nothing underneath you. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a fear because it’s not like I won’t do it, but it’s more like I find it extremely uncomfortable. I’m usually just fine until the engines start running. When I’m pushed back in my seat as the plane is gathering speed and eventually taking off, my heartbeat reaches an unhealthy speed and all I can think of it “get me out of here, now!”

I wanted to be a pilot
And when I came to realize I wasn’t smart enough for that, I wanted to be a flight attendant. Just because it seemed like fun, to travel the world for free. Or that’s what I thought it would be when I was 10 years old. I only took my first flight at the age of 19 and hated it. My dream to become a flight attendant was long gone by then but at least it made me realize it would have been a disaster anyway.

Co-pilot selfies are soooo 2008 / 2009!

I’ve seen way too many episodes of Air Crash Investigation
Stupid, I know…  these are tv shows that are better left unseen, at least for me, because they show all the things that can go wrong or that happen when something does go wrong. I’ve not seen any episodes in a while because I have almost no time for tv watching anymore these days, which is probably for the better. I vividly remember watching an episode where a plane from Alaska Airlines plunges into the ocean after poor maintenance. When I double checked my flight schedule for my trip to Alaska the week after, I realized my Seattle – Anchorage flight was operated by Alaska Airlines. Needless to say I wasn’t very comfortable during that flight. If only I hadn’t watched the stupid show…

Please, don’t tell me that flying is the safest way of transportation
I KNOW!!! No need to repeat that, really. I know! I hate it when people tell me that. I know that way less people die from plane crashes every year than in regular traffic. I know that cycling to work each day brings me in danger  because I have a near hit with either a car, another bike or a pedestrian at least once a day, so it’s just a matter of time until there’s a real collision. Yet flying is very safe. I know…

5. Bushplanes are better! So I like them!
Because basically, you don’t go as high as normal planes and at least if the pilot gets a heart attack or so, you can take over control. Not that I would know how to take over control, but still, I could always use the radio and ask for help. My worst bushplane experience was while doing a flightseeing in the Canadian Yukon, over the mountains and glaciers of Kluane National Park. It was extremely windy and it felt like being on a roller coaster. My colleague, who was sitting in front of me, just kept on screaming “I need more paper bags!” Well, there you go. That’s how bad it was…  At least a real roller coaster is fun and over and done with in less than a minute.


Sure, we are totally fine!

Embarrassing: The one time the police came to see me …
…  And asked me why the hell I was spending my time along the runway of Anchorage Airport. Each time I’m in Alaska I try to visit Earthquake Park, which offers views of Mt. McKinley (highest mountain in North America) in case it’s a clear day.  Just a bit further down is Point Woronzof which is pretty much where the main runway of Ted Stevens airport ends and where the jets take off on their journey. Since I had just spent 3 weeks with a group of people I had never met before, I needed some time to chill out and be on my own. So I rented a bike and just cycled down there. I figured it was a nice place to stay for a while, just overthinking my time in Alaska, how that trip changed me forever and waving goodbye to all planes. The police (or whoever they were, they looked official) must’ve seen me and thought “hey, what’s that person doing there.”  So they asked me to leave. It’s America after all…

Alaska2007 542
One of the many 747’s I saw take off that day

People clapping after a landing annoy the shit out of me

Never ever in my life did one of my customers give me a round of applause when they had a good journey. Sure, someone sent me chocolates once and they even bother to send me a postcard from Alaska (much appreciated!) every now and then. With one of my previous jobs, one of my customers asked me out but I doubt that had to do with the marvelous journey he had. As for the clapping, the pilot is just doing his job you know…  I actually thought that the clapping travelers were a dying race but on my recent flights to/from Argentina, the whole plane started clapping when we landed. Or at least the Argentineans. Hallelujah.

I refused to go to the toilet…
Because, what if the plane would crash when I’d be in the toilet? Crazy, I know. On the way to Peru (ages ago!) I managed not to go for 12 hours… Nowadays I have no trouble with it anymore, apart from the fact that it’s just gross. I rather pee in the bush than on a plane.

I don’t mind until it gets bumpy
Basically, flying makes me quite happy, at least when going away to discover a new place. So when I’m up in the air and all is well, I’m dreaming about what’s to come. Until it gets bumpy.  I know it’s perfectly normal that it’s bumpy (as normal at the fact that the wings actually go up and down) but it scares the shit out of me. Just the idea that something might be wrong…

And finally… my most memorable experiences when flying : – )

– The one time Singapore Airlines brought me chocolate cake and champagne for my birthday. Yes, this truly happened, they even wrote me a card with it! It made my journey home a whole lot easier.

– Flying business class with Air Canada and eating all I was being served just because I could. And then finishing their whole stock of cranberry cocktails, for the same reason.


– Flying home from Riga, totally hung-over, after a weekend out with my girlfriends. Flying with a hangover is bad enough, but it’s worse when the girl behind you (who was probably as hung-over) starts throwing up. Just imagine the fun.

– Sitting next to a (famous) tennis player who kept on stealing wine from the flight attendant when she wasn’t looking. Within two hours he passed out so when I needed to get out to the toilet, I had to crawl over him. Even though he was handsome and all, that still was a bit awkward.

– Being on a shaking plane for more than 12 hours was definitely one of the worst flights ever, home from Singapore to Amsterdam. It wasn’t just shaking, but the whole crew had to stay in their seats, too.  I saw all of Asia passing by below me that night. Believe me, it was a long flight.

And since I always make sure I have a window seat (well, almost always … sometimes I’m just unlucky) I take pictures like a madwoman. From take off, landing, mountains, glaciers, myself, the moon, the sun, that sort of stuff. Here’s an impression of the pictures I took over the past year.


As you can see (and as I realize now that I have almost finished this post) there’s basically nothing that gives me reason to have a fear of flying. In 168 flights I’ve never had a worse experience than what I mentioned above so basically, my fear doesn’t make sense at all. I’ve never even missed a flight or lost my luggage. As my next flight approaches (in 10 days) I’ll try to look at things from the positive side. Flying is actually so much fun…

More reading? Check out these:
Confessions of a travel blogger: part 1
Confessions of a travel blogger: part 2
How to never be bored when flying again
How to survive an 18.5 hour flight

This post is a part of the Sunday Social Travel Talk series… each Sunday we’ll tell you something about a personal / private travel related topic. Go here to read the previous posts!

Thanks for sharing!


  • Sandra

    Oh… Zó herkenbaar dit! En vooral die mensen inderdaad die zeggen dat vliegen de meest veilige manier van transport is. Dat wéét ik! Hou je smoel! Ik ben momenteel ook in gesprek met stichting VALK en heb veel geleerd over vliegangst en wat je er ter plekke aan kunt doen. Volgende week komt een post online, hopelijk heb jij er ook iets aan!

    • anto

      Thanks San, altijd fijn om te horen dat ik niet de enige ben. Het klinkt zo suf om te zeggen als reiziger dat je vliegen eng vindt … ik hoop dat je iets aan je sessie (s) bij VALK hebt gehad, ik heb destijds hun test gedaan en het advies dat eruit kwam, was dat ik het boek moest lezen. Niet gedaan tot nu toe… fijne zondag!

      • Sandra

        Hahaha ja, ik schaam me ook altijd een beetje als ik zeg dat ik liever gewoon niet vlieg. Maar ja, ik laat mij inderdaad ook niet tegenhouden. Ik moet wel eerlijk zeggen dat het boek serieus goede handvatten geeft. Momenteel heb ik het uitgeleend aan een collega (we zijn echt niet de enige ;-)). Je mag hem wel van me lenen hoor, als ik hem weer terug heb!

  • Karlijn Travels

    Ahh, wat een herkenbaar verhaal. Ik heb ook zo’n irrationele hekel aan vliegen en aan turbulentie. Toen ik naar Athene moet vliegen, was het code geel in het hele land. Dan zit ik echt niet blij in het vliegtuig, zeker niet als de piloot waarschuwt dat het ‘wel eens heel onprettig kan zijn in het begin’. Ik moet ook per se bij het raampje zitten, zodat ik kan zien of het weer nog helder is en we geen noodweer naderen ofzo. Maar verder ben ik best (redelijk) normaal! Sterkte met de volgende vlucht 🙂

  • Eva

    Ik moet hier natuurlijk ook even op reageren, want vind het ook superherkenbaar! Vind vliegen ook echt helemaal niet fijn. Ik probeer altijd realistisch te zijn, te bedenken hoe klein de kans is dat er iets gebeurt – maar mijn hart blijft maar kloppen en mijn handen worden steeds natter. Ik hoop echt dat het ooit open gaat. Leuke post!

    • anto

      Oh wat fijn, zoveel mensen die het herkenbaar vinden … doet me wel een beetje goed 🙂 over gaat het denk ik nooit helemaal, dus heb me erbij neergelegd dat het nooit m’n grootste hobby zal worden.

  • Jitske - Koffer vol Dromen

    haha, te herkenbaar dit.
    Ik ben dan ook erg blij met mijn pilletjes Oxazepam. Dit maakt de vlucht voor mij net iets minder erg.
    En ja het is de veiligste manier van reizen maar als dat ding neerstort ben je toch vaak wel echt morsdood en dat idee vind ik toch wel erg angstaanjagend.
    Ik heb trouwens ook een keer zo’n shaky flight gehad. Werd kotsmisselijk maar mocht geen reistabletje pakken en de bemanning zat ook vastgebonden aan hun stoel. Verschrikkelijk!

    • anto

      Oh das ook nog een goed idee, zo’n pilletje. Tijdens de nachtvluchten stop ik mezelf altijd vol met slaappillen in de hoop dat ik er weinig van merk. Lukt niet altijd helaas…

  • Hannah

    I wanted to be a pilot too…until I read that it was 75 000 dollars without books or accommodation, the dream (forgive the pun) crashed. I do like being on planes though, although the toilets are nasty. no way I could hold it for 12 hrs though!

  • Meg Jerrard

    I love this post – and especially relate to hating when people clap after a landing – it also annoys the shit out of me!!

    I’m dying to fly business class at least once – your photo from Air Canada looks amazing! So much more appealing than economy!!

  • Sammi Wanderlustin'

    I hate flying, too! It actually stems from my fear of heights, I get vertigo stood on a chair. It wasn’t until last year flying home on a particularly clear December morning, that I ever looked out the window, it was over the pyrenees flying back from Barcelona. It was stunning. Now I don’t mind when I’m up, but getting up and coming down are the worst.

    I flew ill this summer, actually I’d been recommended not to fly as I had bronchitis but I just wanted to get home & the flight was an hour long. The Dr prescribed me a tablet to take as soon as I got on the plane which knocked me out for the whole journey. It was the best flight I’d ever had!!!

  • Tam Gamble

    I read this with a smile on my face – It sounds exactly like me although I can’t even bear to be in a window seat, likely for my husband who takes every opportunity to snap away out of the window. This does also mean that on some flights I am crammed into the middle seat and have to hope that the person sat on the aisle seat isn’t going to annoy me throughout the flight. I took my first flight when I was 18 and hated every moment since then if I can drive somewhere instead that is always my first option.

    Like you I hate it when people tell me it is the safest form of transportation – so what! I still have to try and get my head around the fact that I am that high up in a metal tube!! People have suggested various things to help – including hypnosis – but I am not sure that is for me either.

    Flying doesn’t stop me from travelling but it does cause me to turn into a nervous wreck for a while!

  • Alli

    Was it the Alaskan State Troopers that told you to leave?? (I love that show on the National Geographic Channel!!!) I actually had zero fears of flying until recently, with all the weird stuff happening with planes in the media. When I flew to Las Vegas there was quite a bit of turbulence and I’ve never felt such panic before on a plane! I actually don’t mind at all when people clap when the plane lands safely . . . I mean, similar to thanking a taxi driver or bus driver, it’s just polite and a courtesy of getting there safe and sound!

  • Beth

    I’m right there with you! I absolutely dread flying, even though I have no reason to fear it. It certainly makes being a travel blogger hard, haha, but I am slowly getting better about it!

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