Fear of Flying (to Australia)

I was having a think the other day about what options there are for you if you are scared of flying, but still want to visit Australia.

There are 2 options really — one is to get there overland and/or by sea. The other is conquering your fear of flying (there is probably a third option that involves tranquilisers, but not too sure on the legalities of that one!).

So, firstly — conquering your fear of flying. Now, I do think that if not liking flying is the issue, you might want to get a short ‘practice’ flight in before you get on board for a 24-hour haul. Nevertheless, there are ways to make the flight a bearable option (apparently)…

Fear of flying is called (perhaps unsurprisingly) “Aerophobia”, and is experienced because of a number of anxieties: claustrophobia, fear about not being in control, worrying about turbulence and air pockets, stressing that you’ll get airsick, panicked that you’ll contract Deep Vein Thrombosis or something else… (er, look away now if you’re a hypocondriac!).

A good place to start is the web site Airfraid, which helps to dispel myths about flying by explaining the science behind it. There are also links off to other info, to help conquer fear by knowledge. Plus you can also buy various travel-related items here (pillows, socks, tablets for motion sickness, etc).

Then, if you want conquer the fear by flying, Virgin offer a one-day Flying Without Fear course, which costs £234. This day also goes for the myth-busting approach too, as explained by pilots themselves. Then an insight into safety standards and advice from psychologists, and at the end of the day a short flight, during which the pilots will explain every noise and movement. This is the ulimtate know-and-understand approach, so you get over the fear factor of flying. Aviatours, in conjunction with British Airways, also runs courses for a similar price. (My thanks to Tom Hall for some of these answers and web sites as quoted in last Sunday’s Observer).

If your fear of flying still remains (and it’s a long flight to Australia remember!), then you might want to look at other land- and sea-based options

Not for the comfort-seeking, but certainly likely to be full of adventure, there is the OzBus.  Picking up where the hippies left off, this is the ultimate London to Sydney journey in, unsurprisingly, a bus! Here’s what they say about the 84-day trip:

“All that we require from you is that you have an adventurous spirit, a strong sense of fun, and a longing to see the world as it really is. If this sounds like you, then come along and take the trip of a lifetime.”

The OzBus is not for me (I’m far too high-maintenance!), but looks like a lot of fun… I followed this trip weekly in the Guardian, when Anita Sethi took the OzBus last September to December. You can read more about her experiences here.

More up my street (but unfortunately not price range!), is to cruise to Australia

Now this is more like it! Check out this cruise on the new Cunard Queen Victoria, only (!) 49 days to get to Sydney, but a few excellent stops lined up on the way…  This costs from just £5999… (hmm), but if you don’t want to fly home, then you need to book the 107 night round trip from Southampton to Sydney…and back again… from £11,399.

Might be worth booking that fear of flying course if you want to keep your trip to Australia on a manageable budget 😉 It’s totally worth the effort, in my opinion, to get to Australia (and if it’s any consolation, I still panic when there is turbulence on a flight!).

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