How I Survived My First Transatlantic Flight

The beautiful thing about fear is, when you run to it, it runs away.
— Robin Sharma

Confession: I love travelling.  I do not enjoy being in the air.

Well, I take that back.  I do not mind the art of flying; I hate the turbulence that comes with it.  I love sitting in window seats, looking out in the clouds, taking pictures of my view for the 'gram, and getting to my destination in a wickedly short amount of time.  Now, when the flight gods choose to have the airplane drop it like it's hot during my travels, then we have a mild problem.  However, I will say, I have gotten a lot better with my internal responses (i.e. I don't feel like I'm going to die every time I feel a bump)!  Sounds ironic since I have an entire travel blog, right? Oh well.  Jesus ain't done with me yet. 

So, I have gotten progressively better with handling turbulence during flights but I was still extremely anxious about my flight to Europe.  If I can be honest, I was more worried about getting there than being there for 40 days.  My longest flight to date had been 5 hours when going to Cartagena, and that was a flight in which I was praising Big Homie for letting us make it to the ground (I also heard a few too many "ay Dios mio"'s).

Imagine my pleasant surprise when my 6.5 hour flight from Boston to Madrid seemed short... both ways.  I am not sure if it was just beginner's luck (like I had control), but I was astonished by how smooth my trips were.  While I do not think I'm ready to cross the Pacific from Texas, I'm willing to stretch my next longhaul flight to 8-10 hours.  For this reason, I am giving my own self a high-five because I typically get antsy after three hours.  So, for my fellow travelers that don't like being in the air that long, this is for you. 

If I had let my fear of the transatlantic flight commute win, I would have never been able to see the city of my dreams, Paris. 

If I had let my fear of the transatlantic flight commute win, I would have never been able to see the city of my dreams, Paris. 


Here is a breakdown for how I was able to enjoy my flight.

Pre-Flight Routine

If I have an early enough flight, I will fight sleep as long as I can.  Not that I advocate procrastination, but I'm a decent packer under pressure and always get the job done.  So, as per tradition, I went out the night before my trip, stayed up packing, and took a two hour nap before heading to the airport at 5am.  I find that typically, if I'm groggy, I am a better flyer. 

What I Did to Survive the Lengthy Flight

  • I made a plan to "tire myself out" like a child, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.  So, even though I was exhausted and wanted to take a snooze, I stayed awake for two hours.  The good thing about stalking the type of aircraft I was flying was that I knew I had wifi and on demand movies at my disposal.  

  • I made sure I had a full stomach.  Dinner? Sure. Snacks? Why, thank you.  Next time, I will pack a few of my own too.
  • I took advantage of the free refreshments (i.e. champagne and wine) to get me to a mild buzz. Thanks, Iberia! 
  • I broke a cardinal rule of mine and flew in leggings.  Best decision ever.  I'm usually one to do a mild slay in the airport because I always find a way to snag free food or drinks, but since I was extremely out of my bubble with the flight time, I wanted to be extra comfy. 
  • I cancelled out distractions by using my Beats, eye mask, and a blanket.  I was grateful to have the window as a prop for my head and was able to nap anywhere between 2-3 hours. I'm sure I could have slept longer but I set an alarm for when to wake up. 
  • I stayed busy.  Between the movies, writing in my journal, and reading a magazine, I was able to keep myself occupied when I was awake.  When you are distracted, time seems to go by a little quicker.  And again, the champagne didn't hurt.

A Few Other Notes

  • Pick the seat you want to fly in.  I have internal meltdowns when I am forced to fly in an aisle seat and the window is closed.  I like to be able to see what's going on.  If you already do not enjoy flying, you should at least pick the type of seat you like. 
  • Yes, I flew with my hair wrapped on the way to Europe, because it was my first time having it professionally straightened and I wasn't on the plane to impress anyone.  On the way back, I had my hair twisted and protected by my scarf.  The joys of traveling with natural hair!
  • I set an alarm to wake up approximately one hour before we were estimated to touch down each way because I didn't want to be too groggy when dealing with customs. 
  • I actually didn't use the wifi on the way back because it had given me some issues on the way there and I didn't feel like using my money for spotty internet.  The movie system provided by Iberia was sufficient enough. 
  • Had I remembered, I would have put on a face mask while I was sleeping so that my skin would be moisturized.  I resorted to using a cooling face spray.  More about that later. 
  • I realize I should have gotten up and walked around.  I'm not on that wave yet, but I'm gradually getting there.  

Just because I do not like flying as much as other travelers, doesn't mean I will let that fear cripple me.  What do you do to survive transatlantic and other longhaul flights? 

Just because I do not like flying as much as other travelers, doesn't mean I will let that fear cripple me.  What do you do to survive transatlantic and other longhaul flights? 

I am glad I finally bit the bullet and flew my first transatlantic flight.  I have been holding back from certain locations for awhile because the flight time was daunting, but I simply refuse to let fear keep me from my dreams.  This is a message. I know a lot of people that dream of visiting exotic locations but do not want to be on a plane that long.  

Living in the land of "what if" is not my ministry.

Whether you need to break up that flight with stopovers, find some sleeping medicine, or have meditation techniques, do not let your fear of flying cripple you!  There is too much beauty in the world to see! 

Do you dislike flying?  What do you do to get you through lengthy flights? Let's chat!