Overcoming Fear of Flying

I love travel, and always have. And up until a few years ago, I had no problem with flying whatsoever! It was only after a particularly stormy, bumpy, turbulent ride in a small propeller plane (complete with jolts so heavy I grabbed my neighbors’ hands and started praying, for reals), that I developed a serious fear of flying. And now, with every trip, I find myself busy overcoming fear of flying. I guess, more specifically, it’s a fear of turbulence. Let me explain.
Overcoming fear of flying
I’ve done a lot of reading and I see over and over again that  fear of flying or turbulence often comes from a perceived lack of control. And I supposed that’s true. I, as a passenger, have zero control over what happens to the plane, the way it’s flown, the weather we fly through, and on and on. And I find that to be partially true. But for me, there’s another layer to it — it’s the lack of knowledge. I’ve found that when we’re going through some bumpy air and the pilot comes over the intercom to explain what’s going on, I can maintain my cool much more easily. If there’s a simple, “Folks, we’re going through some bumpy air trying to navigate through this storm, but we’re trying to find some smooth air and it should be better in 10 minutes,” I’m pretty good. Uncomfortable, but… hopeful? But if there’s radio silence from the cockpit during substantial turbulence, I spiral. My mind immediately imagines that the turbulence is so bad the pilot can’t take his hands off the controls and we’re definitely going to die any minute.

How I’m Overcoming Fear of Flying

I also know logically that flying is one of the safest methods of transportation, and you’re way more likely to be injured in a car crash than in a plane crash. They always say the most dangerous part of flying is the drive to the airport. But when that turbulence kicks in, that logic doesn’t stop my heart from racing or my eyes from filling with tears or my breath from getting short. So over the years, I’ve developed a couple of (possibly weird) tricks that I do in the air when it’s bumpy and I just can’t calm my brain. Here’s how I work on overcoming fear of flying.

Sit By the Window

Some people tell me it seems counterintuitive, but I always feel better if I can see the ground. As soon as turbulence starts I always find myself looking out the window. (Partially because if the ground isn’t rushing up to meet us I know we’re okay so far. 😉 ) I also find that if I can see clouds nearby outside, the bumps make sense. My mind wants to equate the smoothness of the flight with the status of the weather, I guess. Once we start getting closer to the ground for landing, it’s also comforting to see landmarks getting bigger. Instead of just seeing mountains or bodies of water, soon you’ll see cities. And then roads. And then cars. And then you land.


It might be bordering on OCD, but my number one go-to for getting through a bumpy patch is counting. Once the bumps start, I look out the window and breathe as calmly as I can, while I count seconds. I try to get to 100. Then 200. Then 300. Most of the time, the bumps end before I get to 300 (five minutes) and I stop counting without even realizing it. If I get to 300 and it’s still turbulent I start over and take comfort in the fact that we haven’t crashed yet. 😉 This actually started on a bumpy flight back from Japan. The pilot told us to expect turbulence for 15 minutes, so I counted to 300 three times, and sure enough — the turbulence ended right on cue. I always take comfort in that.

Find a Mantra

This is sort of along the same lines, but if counting doesn’t work for you, maybe a repeated phrase will. Sometimes I say, “It’s just like a bumpy road,” over and over again in my head, to a solid rhythm. It helps to have something to focus on and even zone out with while you’re riding out the bumps.
None of this is to say that it’s curing my fear by any means. But the goal is overcoming fear of flying so that I can go through the fear and travel anyway. Because I’ll be danged if this gets the better of me — I have too much world to see! Are you working on overcoming fear of flying? Do you have any go-to tricks? Leave them in the comments — I’d love to know what works for you. Happy travels! xoxo

Best Stops for Kids on a Road Trip Down the California Coast

Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
I love a road trip. Love. I think it’s because I grew up in California, and there are so many great places to get to by car in this state. When Ryan asked what I wanted to do for my birthday my immediate answer was ROAD TRIP! So we planned it out so that the kids could see a few towns on the California coast that we’ve never been to before as a family.
Chevrolet was kind enough to loan us a Traverse for the trip and it was awesome. We just recently bought the Bolt EV (the all-electric car) and it’s perfect for running around town but we prefer something a little bigger for our squirmy family of four on longer drives. The Traverse was perfect for spreading out and hauling all of our gear (ahem, travel crib and double stroller and giant suitcase); the extra cargo space was incredible. We found it to be a great family car — comfortable and spacious, with room for everything that we needed. We planned the trip so that we would drive for about two hours on each stretch, and get out at an awesome destination every time. Our trip started from the California Central Valley, but you could just as easily start from elsewhere in the state, or even do our route in reverse. So if you’re traveling with little ones, here are our favorite California coast stops and a few tips & tricks.
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
I used to go to Carmel when I was little with my family all the time, and I grew to love this gorgeous, quaint little place. Head straight down Ocean Avenue first thing and blow off some steam at one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. The sand is soft and if you wait until the tide rolls out there are some awesome tide pools. It’s also a leash-free beach, so be ready to frolic with some dogs.
After the beach, take a walk a few blocks to Thinker Toys and let the kids test out some fun toys. We grabbed lunch after that at Little Swiss Cafe, which is adorable and perfect for kids. There are murals on the walls with all kinds of kids characters hidden in them, so it’s the perfect distraction while you’re waiting for your food. The staff was also so sweet and happy to supply us with crayons and coloring books. Before you get back on the road, grab a little something from Cottage of Sweets.
Hop back in the car and hope your kids nap on the way to your next destination. Ours napped and it was really nice in the Traverse because the ride is so smooth and quiet — they both zonked out.
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
Pismo Beach
I had never really spent much time in Pismo before, but it’s a perfect stop on the way down the coast to relax. The Pismo Lighthouse Suites is awesome for kids — the rooms are huge and each is a suite so you don’t have to all cram into one bedroom. There’s also a free breakfast (clutch for families whose kids are hungry as soon as they wake up) and lots of fun amenities, like a life-sized chess board, ping-pong tables, and a pool that looks over the ocean.
Obviously whenever there’s a beach around, that’s where our kids want to be. There’s a stretch of Pismo that has some swings and a little playground, so snag a spot there and bring a bucket and a shovel. Hours of entertainment. For dinner, try Rosa’s Italian. It’s nice enough that the grownups will feel like they’re having a good dining experience, but super kid-friendly as well. If you’re there during the right season, stop by the Monarch Groves as well! The butterflies flock to a eucalyptus grove in the winter and they hang on the branches by the thousands.
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
Santa Barbara
We took a scenic route from Pismo to Santa Barbara so that the kids could run around Lake Cachuma for a bit. There’s a scenic overlook where you can pull off and explore (there are bathrooms there, too). It was a perfect spot to send up the drone so we took this little clip of us with the Traverse:

After you blow off some steam, continue on to Santa Barbara. We went ASAP to Shipwreck Park, one of the coolest playgrounds I’ve ever been to with the kids. The structures are all built in the shape of sunken ships and other ocean imagery, and it’s just too fun. There are nice clean bathrooms nearby and good benches for parents. You could really spend some time here. Once you work up an appetite, grab lunch at Shalhoob Meat Company. This was actually one of my favorite meals on the trip! The seating is all outside in the sunshine, and the food is killer. There’s a great kids’ menu as well.
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast
Los Angeles
It wouldn’t be a road trip for our family if we didn’t hit our old stomping grounds. But this time we did something we’d never done before and took the kids to the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre. This place is a total gem. Puppeteers make marionettes sing and dance to old songs and the kids were completely entranced. Don’t miss this if you’re in LA with little ones. And speaking of LA driving, we were completely floored by the surround vision technology that the cameras provide on the Traverse. It gives you a bird’s-eye view of the car so you can see from every angle what’s surrounding you. It pretty much makes it so that you’re a parallel-parking wizard.
It was a birthday trip for the books! And we’re so grateful to our friends at Chevrolet for helping us get there and back. I’m always happy to come back home after traveling but I’m not gonna lie — I’m already mapping out our next road trip. I’m thinking we go north next time? We’ll see. Happy trails! xoxo
Vehicle and accommodations for our trip were graciously provided by Chevrolet. All opinions are my own.
Best stops for kids on a road trip down the California coast