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Travel

7 Tips To Conquer Fear Of Flying

In 2012, a C130 flight from Manila to Bicol started the most paralyzing of fears that I had ever felt in my life. The turbulence was so rough it felt like my soul was being ripped away from my body. The plane turned and plummeted up in the air like the pilot has forgotten he had passengers. As if that is not enough, the machine was also making all these noises that had me imagining that if The Reaper has a theme song it’d probably be it. Since then, I dreaded every flight that I had ever taken. I jump at every sound the plane makes and a slight tilt of the plane gets my pulse racing. In those flights, not a book, not a food, not even a pleasant conversation with a friend could distract me from my Final Destination-ish thoughts.

What do you make of a traveler who hates flying? Yeah I know, ridiculous. One day I told myself, this fear has got to stop. I had to do something to conquer my fear, hence I started searching for ways that may help me deal with it. A few months before I took that plane to Boracay in April this year, I subjected myself to rigorous preparation. I am very pleased to report that my effort yielded positive results. So if you too are gripped with this fear, which I’ll be the first to say can be quite debilitating, let me share with you these 7 tips that may help you conquer or at least manage your fear of flying.

1. Start with the why

The first step to recovery for an alcoholic is to make him realize and accept that he is an alcoholic. It is kind of the same thing when dealing with the fear of flying; you have to acknowledge first that you have this fear and determine what causes it. As I mentioned earlier, my fear started in 2012. I tried to remember the things that happened that ultimately led to my flying anxiety. When you are able to pinpoint where the problem lies, you can start to find ways to specifically address it.

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2. Observe your thoughts and feelings during flight

Up in the air and you feel the fear setting in, begin to observe your feelings and thoughts. Is your pulse racing? Are you sweating profusely? Does it feel like your hands are getting cold and clammy? Do you think that the plane might crash? Are you thinking about your loved ones and the fear that you may never see them again? Now take five deep breaths, just listen to your thoughts and let it all flow freely. Trying to control your fear, even if it’s baseless, is one of the hardest things to do so instead of wasting your energy trying to suppress it, let it flow through you.

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After you’ve allowed yourself to think of these things, the next step is to start questioning these thoughts one by one. Why do you think the plane will crash? Are there existing conditions that tell this for a fact? Turbulence may be scary, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the plane would crash. Just question every negative idea that comes to your mind and try to reason with yourself. Continued practice weakens the power of these gloomy thoughts.

3. Look at the flight crew

If the plane is having problems, the flight crew will be the first to know. You may notice this in their demeanor; do they look anything but calm? If they look unworried and comfortable then so should you. You may argue that they are trained how to act in desperate situations, but if something is way out of control or if there is any cause of alarm, you can trust that they will all help you through the situation. Until then, just sit, relax, and enjoy the ride.

4. Listen to the pilot

The pilot normally informs his passengers about the weather condition, especially if there is a chance that the plane might experience some turbulence. Watch out for his announcements, and when he gives assurance that he has everything under control, take his word for it. Trust the pilot, he’s been trained to fly that plane, he knows exactly what he is doing.

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5. Take the window seat

If you have flying anxiety I highly suggest you sit by the window. I know this may sound crazy especially if you are scared of heights but based on my experience, I tend to be more worried when I don’t have a view of what’s down below. When I sit by the window it somehow makes me feel in control, thereby mitigating my agitation. Also, the view of the clouds has a calming effect. Instead of worrying about things that may or may not happen, why not enjoy the view instead.

6. Meditate

Out of all the methods that I’ve tried, meditating is by far the most effective. If you have not tried meditating before, I suggest you start doing it at least one week before your scheduled flight. Meditation takes some getting used to so it’s best if your mind and body have been pre-conditioned before travel. Also, choose a guided meditation so your mind doesn’t start wandering off. There are several guided meditation videos on Youtube that you can listen to or better yet, download a mobile app that offers free meditation audio. I am personally using this app called, Insight Timer. As soon as the plane takes off, plug in your earphones, close your eyes, then listen to the soothing voice in the audio.

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7. Listen to soft music

I find that listening to upbeat music only aggravates my anxiety. Listening to soothing and soft music, on the other hand, does the opposite. It encourages calm feelings and a relaxed state of mind. Just to give you an example, let me share to you my “Flying Playlist.” Click the title to hear the audio.

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On a final note, the possibility of you dying in a plane crash is 1 in 11 million. It means you are more likely to die of a heart disease than a plane accident, so chill. It can be quite unnerving when you think about the fact that you are practically leaving your fate in the hands of the pilot but try not to worry. If you can’t stop yourself from worrying then use the tips above to distract yourself from your fear. I know though that we are all different and what may work for me may not work for you. So my advice is to never give up, research on it, try the suggested methods that you can find, see what works for you. Ultimately, just relax my friend, leave it to the hands of the experts, and enjoy the ride.

Do you have other tips to help overcome the fear of flying? If you do, I’d love to hear them in the comment below.

NOTE: The gifs were taken from the web.

Accommodation Philippines Popular Travel

Sundang Island – Your Island For A Day

To celebrate my 33rd year, I announced to my select friends that I rented an island. That’s right folks, I rented an island because that’s how I roll. But before you ask me for balato, nope, I didn’t win the lottery, I just happened to find an island that you can rent without the need of selling drugs, body, or soul. This tiny island is called Sundang, one of the small pieces of land dispersed about Lumot Lake. Yes, it’s an island and yes, you too can rent this place. Let me share with you how.

Cavinti

This little piece of paradise is located in Cavinti, a third class municipality in the province of Laguna. Cavinti’s natural landscape is voluminous and diverse with the existence of rivers and falls, lakes and caves, as well as mountains. Hence, tourist sites are abundant in this part of Laguna, the most popular of which is Pagsanjan Falls, called locally as Cavinti Falls.

Lake Pandin, San Pablo, Laguna

There are man-made lakes in Cavinti, one of them is Lumot, which is connected to Caliraya Lake via an underground penstock. Lumot, as the name implies has water the color of moss. And on this lake, you can find Sundang Island.

Booking

I found Sundang on Airbnb, which I tell you, is like a treasure of hidden and wonderful accommodation. Booking the island can be a bit of a challenge as it is always reserved even on weekdays. To ensure that the island is mine on my birthday, I booked it two months in advance; the rate is PHP 2,911 (USD 62.23) per night (2020 Update: The current rate per night is around 4,000 pesos).

As soon as the booking was confirmed, the owner sent me the house manual. It is so long none of my friends had the patience to read it. But I did, but only after a few days when I had the time to really absorb what the love letter contains. It may seem a drag but trust me you need to read the manual. Sundang is not your typical accommodation, you need this guide to survive on the island. Well, I don’t mean in a Survivor-like sense but everything that you need to know about the island is written on that letter, what to bring, tips on what you can do, and things you should remember while you’re on the island. I will share some of them with you later, but first, the getting there part.

Click here to get $24 off your first airbnb booking

Getting There

Whether you go there with a car or by commute, travel time will take about 3 to 4 hours. The manual has a detailed instruction for those with a car. For those who are taking public transport, here’s what you can do.

Take a bus with the Sta. Cruz route at the Greenstar bus station in Buendia, bus fare is PHP 140 (USD 2.99). Get off at the bus terminal in Sta. Cruz. From there you have two choices; take the jeep that goes to Pagsanjan-Cavinti, or hire a tricycle; we picked the latter. One tricycle driver offered to take us there for PHP 100 (USD 2.14) per person; there were four of us.

It took us, maybe 45 minutes to get to the drop-off point. The driver mentioned that that part of Cavinti is high and that it involves climbing up a hill. I didn’t understand what he meant until we reached the highway that ascends. There were some when the tricycle were moving in a zigzag manner across the road and I almost asked the driver what he was trying to do when my friend started explaining that because the road goes up it makes driving difficult. Apparently, it was only through this method that he could get us up there.

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Finally, we reached the pick-up point, the NAPOCOR Watershed Management Field Office. That’s where we waited for the caretaker, Tony, to pick us up. It was another 15-minute ride, this time via a small boat that Tony stirred above Lumot Lake to get to the island.

Sundang is not the only island atop the moss-colored lake, and we passed by a few of them. Excitement grew when we finally spotted Sundang from afar. It is everything that I imagined it to be, picturesque, rustic, and peaceful. The ground is covered by crimson soil and grass and the place is surrounded by trees and plants.

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Check-in time is 1PM and check-out time is 11AM. They are not too strict about it provided there are no other scheduled guests on the day of your arrival or the day of your departure.

Casa San Pablo Bed & Breakfast – Laguna

We were greeted by a brown barking dog. A closer look revealed that it’s already old, its eyes muddied by cataracts. The dog is harmless, always there every time we eat but it never really bothered us. The owner mentioned two dogs in the manual: Big Boy and Panda. I figured the brown one is Big Boy because he doesn’t look like a panda to me. I vaguely remember the other dog that is of dark color but unlike Big Boy, this one didn’t hang around that much.

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Amenities

The house itself is big enough to accommodate 10 or more people. It’s about 80-square meters, only one bedroom with a queen-size bed and an extra bed. The bed has a canopy, which proved to be useful because at nighttime, the insects suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

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Need more sleeping space, there’s one in the attic, which is also equipped with a fan, sleeping mats, and some pillows. Now if for some reason you brought so many people that the bedroom and the attic cannot accommodate you all then you may lay out the extra sleeping mats and pillows in the living room.

There are two bathrooms and a kitchen complete with cooking utensils. There is a gas stove and if you want to barbecue there is a grilling area outside, just beyond the house of the caretaker.

Booking.com

If you want to pen your future bestselling novel, there is a study room just across the house. It has a table with an office chair, a reclining couch, and glass walls that offer a lovely view outside. This study room is special to me because that’s where my friends and I hang out in the night for some card games and drinks.

You feel like dining al fresco? You can use the collapsible chairs and tables and set them up in the grassy area outside the house. Further down the path there is a fire pit where you and your friends (or family) can gather for a bonfire.

Activities

The place is clearly made with the word “leisure” in mind. There are books that you are free to read, there are playing cards and board games that you can play, and there are hammocks where you can nap and spend the lazy afternoon with.

And may I remind you the island is surrounded by a lake where you can go for a quick swim.

My friends and I spent an hour or two swimming in the shallow part of the lake. The water was freezing and the wind was blowing so it took us some time to get used to the cold. Then it started to drizzle and the water surface dimpled in the tension. The fog blanketed the other side of the lake. My friend and I looked at each other in silent understanding; both of us were in awe. This is the first time I went swimming in a lake and it was kind of weird, feeling the mud instead of sand. Only a few steps away from the shore and the water was already up to my neck, that’s how quickly the water gets deep. If you are not a good swimmer like me, best to not stray too far from the shore.

What to bring

It takes a boat to go to and fro the island so it’s best to bring all the supplies that you need prior to going there. You can ask Tony to fetch some things for you in the town, but you have to pay an extra PHP80 (USD1.71) for the gas of the boat.

Among the things that you should consider bringing are the following:

  • Food
  • Drinking water
  • Ice (the place has no refrigerator, but there’s a cooler)
  • Insect repellent
  • Power bank
  • Toiletries
  • Charcoal

The island works on a generator and it’s only on from 6PM to 12AM. If you want to extend the time of its use, you have to pay an additional PHP 100 (USD 2.14) per hour. So make sure to charge your gadgets when the power is on, including their chargeable lanterns with electric fan.

This is my first time I celebrated my birthday out-of-town and the experience is nothing short of spectacular. I wasn’t with family, I only had three of my friends with me, and I didn’t even have a  birthday cake, but I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. Sundang Island gave me an opportunity to live the dream that most of us have, to be on an island we can call our own. Never mind that it was only for a day because really how many of us can say, “I rented an island on my birthday.”

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