I'd say it's pretty bloody natural to be either anxious, scared or terrified of flying because flying is completely unnatural. Even Jesus couldn't fly. He could walk on water, but he couldn't fly. My guess is, he probably could fly he was scared too. Here's a little piece of useless information (that can now be slipped into the useful column); we are born with two inherent fears: loud noises and heights. Maybe it's the fear of falling, or the cramped space, or the unnecessarily loud noises, or the horrendous invention that is turbulence or, the fact the food is nasty, or that the plane has no phalanges (or all of the above if you fly with Ryanair). I don't know. But whatever the reason is, if your child starts to grab your arm with a grip tighter than Chuck Norris every time you take your seats on a plane, it's probably time you started to tackle the issue and find the root of the problem. This is a) for your kids sake and b) so that you can take a well earned holiday because you deserve it (I know this for a fact because I'm a parent too. I'm like the least helpful parent as well, and I still need holidays. So, eve if it is for wholly selfish reasons, it's time to address this fear of flying and lock that shit down).
Luckily for you, I am a legend, by which I mean I have come up with a list of things that may save you a headache the next time you’re heading out on a vay-kay or staycation or gap-yah or whatever. Thank me later, via the contact page on my site. I like Guylian chocolate, you know, just in case.
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail, or something.
Talking is goooooooood. It doesn't matter if you've fallen out with a friend, if you're suffering from bereavement issues or just sad because David Bowie dies; talking is like the best thing anyone can do to ease any bad situation, so why not start with this. Why not talk to your kid. But don't wait until you're on the flight; do it in the months, weeks and days leading up to your holiday. You know, engage in a little casual chit-chat about what they can expect from the whole palaver. This is a good idea (pat on the back) because it will help prevent the whole palaver from being such a shock. You know, walk them through the whole flying process and do it in a super upbeat and positive tone, with wonderful gestures to boot, oh and big smiles. Explain how you’ll get in a taxi. or train (oooo train), which you will take to the airport, which is basically a really fun maze of gates and shops and a lot like Pat Sharp's Fun House from the 90s. Then (once you've won a camera) explain how you’ll board the plane by walking a long a cool runway or climbing a set of cool stairs, before finding your seat, putting your bags in the overhead bit, sitting down, taking off, getting drunk on mini-cans of stella and then landing with the hiccups. Why not go into a bit of detail too (not about the drinking and the hiccups but) about how long the flight will last, and what you will be able to see and what countries you'll fly over and stuff. Actually, why not ask them some stuff too. Ask them to research your hotel or see if there are any water parks. Ask them what they would like to eat. This will put some of the power back into their hands, which is nice because they'll get involved and it won't feel so one way.
You will need to comfort them.
If adults are nervous flyers they can comfort themselves with vodka and sleeping pills. Kids can't... or shouldn't. So it's a wise idea to have whatever comforts them at hand. If your child is young, it may be a pacifier, their favourite teddy and a box of raisins. If they are a bit older, it could be a blanket, a Boost bar and an episode of their favourite show on an iPad ( I hear Orange is the New Black is good, but I don't know if it's suitable cos' I haven't seen it. There's probs swearing actually. That was bad advice, don't follow it). Anyway, whatever comforts them, have it at hand, and keep talking to them. Take their mind of the whole thing. Maybe talk about the holiday, or tell them a funny anecdote from the past (I usually tell them nervous flyers about the time my dad sunk a huge catamaran, the time my dad caught a shark while fishing in Portugal, took it back to the hotel and slipped it in the pool, or the time I had a 25 minute police chase with 5 police cars and 12 policeman, which is a long story). The important thing is you comfort them and, yes, sweets and chocolate and other such bribes can slip into the comforting column. Come on, don't be such a snack-Nazi.
Alternative travel options.
It may be a last resort, but it could be worth considering some alternate modes of transport. If you live in America, you're probably staycationing in America, and if you live in Europe or Africa you can cross borders without having to cross much sea, so hire a cool car and turn this holiday into a road trip; yeehaw. Of course, there may be trains or buses that you can take, but these can be tricky to navigate with children and baggage and low-patience-thresholds, so only do one of these if you have done all the planning and stuff ahead of time. I still recommend the road trip idea though. Hire a bad ass car or camper van and make this holiday epic. Make it fun. Make it an experience none of you will ever forget. OMG! Road trips are the best. Actually, sod the plane, just drive.
A Little Admission
I have never been a nervous flyer. I have been a bored, tired and irritated flyer, but never a scared one. Even after my dad was killed I wasn't scared of flying. I should probably note that my old man was killed in a plane crash in Mozambique, albeit in a light air craft (above), which are infamously dodgy (I wrote a best-selling book all about it if you fancy a cheery read). However, since becoming a parent, every time I've been required to fly for work or whatever, I have found getting a tad anxious. I've found myself second-guessing noises and praying to a god I don't believe in as we come in to land, and checking my phone for signal when we hit turbulence. I think it's a natural development. There's more at risk than just myself now, and that makes flying a little bit more of a knife's edge. I don't know why I'm telling you this. I think it's partly because I want you to know the feeling is normal and partly because I've recently watched Denzel Washington in Flight.