I have a confession: I’m a travel blogger who fears flying.
It’s embarrassing to admit. My preference for train travel may seem like an old school throw back way to travel. My love of driving may seem like the love of the road. While both things are true on some level, both preferences stem from my fear of flying.
I wish I can say I was always afraid to fly, but that would be a lie. I flew nearly every year as a kid, and even more so as an adult. I’ve jetted off to Europe, Mexico and across the United States. Yet three years ago something happened that put a damper on air travel.
I was flying from Tennessee to Boston with a really bad head cold. The leg from Nashville to New York was fine, but before the flight from New York to Boston, I said to my then-partner, “I don’t want to get on that plane.” Never knowing me as someone who was afraid to fly, he later told me that’s how he knew I was in real pain. My ear was killing me and I felt like death. However, this was also after Hurricane Sandy and it was being reported that rental cars were sparse due to flooding. Who knows if that was even true, but at the time, the decision was made to get on the plane to Boston.
I regretted that decision ever since.
On that flight my ear drum ruptured, and (turn back here if you’re squeamish) the change in air pressure caused it to burst and then bleed. it was probably the worst amount of pain I’ve felt in my entire life. I cried and cried, the whole time this little girl, probably 6 years old staring at me from a few rows ahead. Not only did it hurt, but I was also left with what will probably be life long tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, which has only served as a constant reminder of the decision not to get a rental car that day.
Since then I’ve probably flown three or four times, most of which had really bad turbulence. I got so freaked out, causing my fellow passengers to pat my knee, trying to be encouraging. Others have laughed at my fear. It’s all been nothing short of terrible.
I don’t know when I’ll fly again. There’s some times where it’s annoying and others where I’m totally fine with it. My fear of flying has resulted in getting to know the roads in the US really well. I’m still excited by it and can tell you a lot of quirky things about states many people overlook.
I acknowledge my fear of flying is irrational and unwarranted. It’s not so much a fear of crashing as it is associations with the most physically and psychologically painful feelings of my life. One day I hope to get on a plane, but until I have a good reason to do so, I’ll just keep avoiding it.