I’m flying to Rhode Island to see my family for Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t be more elated. Visions of eating clam chowder and breathing in the crisp New England winter air have been dancing through my head all week. I’m psyched to escape the omnipresent San Francisco fog, my unfulfilling day job and the entire scope of my adult responsibilities for seven days. My favorite part of going home is walking through the door and being greeted by my two dogs / enthusiastic welcoming committee, Flossie and Coco.  

Despite my obvious excitement, I will assert that I do not anticipate my journey to the East Coast to be seamless, given my past traveling blunders. When I walk through an airport, I feel as though I am in The Truman Show. All the chaos around me is actually a show everyone has a part in except for me. Husbands and wives are decked out in tragic sweat suits, bickering as they struggle to maintain order among their screaming children; disobedient toddlers run amok; old men and women are carted past me in America Airlines wheelchairs by a randomly appointed, short, disengaged man; the pilots are marching toward their respective gates, gripping their briefcases much like armed soldiers who are heading into battle; and, lest we forget, the camouflaged redneck couple doused in deer blood is waiting for their flight to Alabama. It’s like they’re all actors, their stage being the airport.  
“You’re much safer on an airplane than you are in a car,” people have told me 546 times. Some call my fear of flying irrational and become visibly bothered when I vent about it. I hastily respond to their condescending assertions with something like “Oh, right, I’m the irrational one. And a manmade metal tube flying 500 MPH 2,000 feet in the sky is rational? Right, tell me that part about Kenny G. again?”

I didn’t used to be scared of flying until about five years ago, when I was flying to New Orleans, and the plane dropped so fast and suddenly that every passenger gasped in horror, and some even screamed. I thought that that was it for me, and I hadn’t even had the chance to sample one of those coveted 50-pound gummy bears they’d just come out with. But that’s neither here nor there. In an effort to prepare myself for my upcoming cross-country flight, I’ve come up with some ways to quell the inevitable anxiety I’ll be faced with. I urge you to try these out too. I guarantee that some of my tips will help make your traveling chafes less chafe-y. Here goes:

1. You’ll likely take an Uber to the airport, and there’s a 76% chance your driver will pelt you with small-talk topics. The last thing you’ll want to do before embarking on seven hours of travel is learn about your driver’s various side jobs, his needy grad-school girlfriend and anything else that requires you to feign interest. Here’s how to handle this: not so subtly imply that any topic he brings up makes you uncomfortable. He wants to talk about the weather? Simply say that your abusive uncle was a meteorologist, and quite frankly, you can’t talk about the temperature outside for fear of conjuring up bad memories. Done and done.

2. Upon boarding the plane, poke your head in the cockpit and ask the pilot if he knew Amelia Earhart. If so, make sure they didn’t go to the same flight school.  

3. You’ll likely be sitting next to a passenger with rancid halitosis, so be sure to come fully equipped with Listerine that you can offer up or, if need be, slip in his or her drink. If that doesn’t work, pull out one of those surgical masks that people seem fond of wearing ever since SARS made us all hysterical.

4. Are you flying Virgin and are put off by their signature translucent purple mood lighting? Simply imagine that the plane is one large tanning bed and that you’re getting skin cancer with 231 other strangers. This will help shift any fears you have centered on the possibility of perishing in a plane crash.  

Making the poverty march back to seat 37465 Z.

5. If the flight attendant offers you peanuts, turn them down and say you’re severely allergic to nuts as you fearfully eye the man’s crotch sitting next to you and begin to tremble, itch and sneeze repeatedly. 

6. Alternatively, if you do like peanuts, tell the flight attendant that you’d like some, but ask if you can get them to go.  

7. Offer to help the flight attendants hand out drinks in a concerted effort to get a refund on your overpriced ticket.  

It is in your beast interest to befriend the flight attendants.

8. Use your reading material to gauge the severity of the turbulence. For example, if you get to a troubling article about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s breakup and the plane simultaneously hits turbulence, assume that there is a direct correlation between the two, and promptly stash your magazine in the seat pocket in front of you.

9. If you’re like me, you’ll be seated in row 657D right by the toilets. Once the flight lands, it will likely take ample time for you to de-board, given the number of people ahead of you fetching their bags and taking their sweet-ass time. Handle this by pouting, impatiently stomping your feet and complaining to the guy next to you. You are important. Your problems are unique. People will listen.