How I Came To Love Airplane Rides

airplane rides






Editor’s Note: I’ve had occasion to fly a fair bit this summer. As someone who used to have intense fear of flying, I wanted to share how I learned to enjoy airplane rides.


I get very anxious when I fly.

Before take off, I find a quiet area in the airport and spend 10 minutes meditating to the Fear of Flying segment on the Headspace mindfulness app.

Then, as soon as we are “wheels up,” I genuflect. Mind you, I’ve not gone to Church regularly since I left home to go to college more than 35  years ago. And yet, as soon as the plane begins take off, I instinctively find myself doing the signs of the cross.

Lately, however, I find myself actually looking forward to airplane rides.  Why, with a lifetime fear of flying behind me, am I now enjoying airplane rides?

Because it is one of the few occasions in my life when I let go of the idea that I ought to be doing anything other than relaxing. Simply put, I let go of my “shoulds.”

Much like a sick day, when I get onto an airplane, I take myself “off of the clock.” I stop thinking that it’s a great opportunity to catch up on email (now that it’s available in flight) or to work on my book or to do my accounts. Instead, I do my favorite things.

Not raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens. But my version of that, which entails skimming lots of New Yorkers, reading a novel by my favorite Nordic Noir author, Karl Ove Knaussgaard, and watching the occasional film (but only if I can find one that suits my decidedly dark tastes.) The last two eight-hour journeys I took, I didn’t even bother with the films. I watched a bunch of different American television dramas I’d always been curious about but had never sampled.

Happiness blogger Gretchen Rubin recommends that if you want to declutter your house, pretend that you’re moving. Only with that mindset will you feel the urgency of actually getting rid of things you don’t need.

In a similar vein, perhaps the takeaway lesson from all of this flying of late is that I need to make the rest of my life more like an airplane ride. Whenever I find myself starting to get stressed, my mantra should be: “Pretend that You’re Flying.” And maybe then I’ll chill out.

How about you? Do you have a place you go—literally or metaphorically—that absolves you of the feeling that you have to do anything?

Yes, I know. Some people call them weekends. Still working on that…

Photo by Max on Unsplash

  • Reply Keith Young

    August 30, 2022, 3:40 pm

    I used to dread flying, not because it scared me but because the seats are small (I’m 6’4”) and all the irritations that went with getting on and off a plane. But now flying is a happy space for me (as long as the seat isn’t too small); I am totally off the clock, feel no need to accomplish anything other than losing myself in an enjoyable book.

  • Reply Howard Baldwin

    August 30, 2022, 5:16 pm

    I don’t fear flying, but I do fear airline screw-ups. My anxiety doesn’t ease until my butt is in my assigned seat. (However, since I’ve been working on my anxiety with meditation and even more therapy, I’m curious what will happen the next time I fly.)

    Your post did remind me, however, of the time I vacationed in Italy. No matter where I was, I couldn’t get wifi to download my email. I find it ironic that the first time I could get online was in Lufthansa Business Class flying home. But since I’d told my clients I was on vacation, nobody had emailed me anyway!

  • Reply Keith Young

    November 15, 2022, 9:02 pm

    How about bus trips? I went with a group from my church to the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, AL (six or seven hour ride from Charlotte, NC). The bus was half-full, so there was plenty of room, we took a leisurely pace (plenty of rest/food stops) and I had good reading material.

    My last flight, alas, was not so great. Charlotte to Dallas on American, for which I think both of those airports is a hub. Flights leave on the hour and they are packed – had to be 200 people on my flight each way. Ugh.

    • Reply delialloyd

      November 17, 2022, 7:47 am

      I hate bus trips Keith! I always feel nauseous. I will do just about anything to avoid them as I much prefer trains. But yes, also a good time to give yourself a break! Thanks for reading.

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