Friday, November 30, 2012

10 Tricks for Conquering Flight Anxiety

10 Tricks for Conquering Flight Anxiety

You know that flight turbulence isn't the same thing as being chased by a lion. But how do you explain that to your adrenaline system? Simple—you employ time-tested strategies for keeping nerves in check. Here are 10 of the best from the experts.

By Kaeli Conforti, Friday, Nov 16, 2012, 2:00 PM,12630/?page=2

Relaxation techniques—such as visualizing your destination—can ease the fear of flying.

Does the idea of flying cause you to break out in a cold sweat? You aren't alone. More than 25 million Americans suffer from some form of flight anxiety, making aerophobia (fear of flying) the second biggest fear in the U.S. after public speaking. If you do fall in this category, you've probably had friends and family remind you numerous times that flying is the safest mode of transportation. While that's very true—your chances of dying in a plane crash are about one in 10 million compared with a one-in-272 chance of dying in a car crash—that's not always enough to quell the jitters. And advice like showing up early at the airport to eliminate unnecessary stress is practical as well, but for the most nervous nellies among us, it takes a little bit more to get us up in the air. We turned to the experts—Todd Farchione, Ph.D., of Boston University's Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders, Martin N. Seif, Ph.D., ABPP, of the Anxiety & Phobia Treatment Center, and Captain Steve Allright of British Airways' Flying With Confidence program—to find out exactly what to do to help alleviate flight anxiety. Thanks to their advice, we put together a 10-step guide to help you conquer your fear—because nothing should stand between you and the vacation you deserve.

Give your phobia a name

Figuring out what triggers your fear in the first place is an important first step toward conquering flight anxiety. Different aspects of flying can trigger different fears depending on the person—for instance, one person may be afraid of turbulence and feel nervous during a perfectly normal takeoff, while an individual with germaphobic tendencies may be more concerned about the spread of germs in a confined space. "The common denominator for more than 90 percent of flight phobics is the fear that they will become overwhelmed with anxiety during the flight," says Seif, a clinical psychologist who runs the Freedom to Fly program at the Anxiety & Phobia Treatment Center in White Plains, New York. It helps to recognize that your phobia is irrational, but you need to be able to pinpoint the cause of your fear before you can take that next step.

Familiarize yourself with airplane noises

You're about to land and the plane is rattling like both of its wheels are about to fall off—is it time to panic? No, the carry-on luggage and the seat-back tables are shifting slightly—just like they do every time the plane takes off and lands. Sometimes all it takes to combat anxiety is a little information. Read up on the typical bumps and noises that may occur during a flight ( has a list of common in-flight sounds). It also helps to understand just how rigorous safety measures are for aircrafts. AOL Travel did an excellent report back in 2010 on everything a plane must go through before it's deemed worthy of your ridership—including being able to support one-and-a-half times the maximum load it would ever carry and weathering environmental extremes such as 120-degree temperatures. "Our anxiety is fed by 'what if?' catastrophic thoughts. Once you become knowledgeable, your 'what if' thoughts will be limited by the facts," said Seif.

Check the turbulence forecast

While turbulence is a perfectly normal part of flying—it happens when the plane encounters normal weather patterns like air currents or clouds—the idea of shaking while in the air can be very unsettling. Turbcast (iTunes, $1.99) was designed by a pilot and analyzes weather patterns as a pilot would, giving fliers an inside look at factors like air pockets and thunderstorms that can cause turbulence in the first place. Translation: The more you know about what causes that shaky feeling and how much of it you can expect while you're airborne, the less you'll be afraid of it.

Bring a photo of your destination

Visualizing your destination and imagining yourself there can be a powerful antidote to stress—and can help keep you focused on the prize at the end of the journey. You can do this with or without a photo, but having a physical image to refer to—whether it's a picture you've downloaded on your phone or a postcard—can help to keep your mind from wandering. Allright says another method is to "imagine yourself in a safe place, somewhere you feel comfortable and safe. Your bedroom, perhaps, or on a beach. Take yourself there with your eyes closed and relax." The idea is to take your mind off the little things that make you nervous about flying and focus on the positive aspects of your journey.

Skip the coffee—and the wine

Captain Allright says to avoid both caffeine and alcohol, as they can leave you feeling more dehydrated during the flight. Nervous fliers should avoid a seemingly comforting pre-flight alcoholic beverage, since alcohol can also make it harder for your body to adjust to being airborne and bring on a nasty bout of jet lag. Instead, opt for water and a light meal pre-flight, or carry along a light snack like carrot sticks, nuts, or an apple to keep you feeling nourished.

Bring a book you've already started or tune into a television series you already know

In a nutshell—distraction works. Airlines now provide the little comforts of home—like televisions, music channels, and magazines—to help distract you from noises and bumps during the flight and make you feel more at home in a strange place. One of the best ways to distract yourself during a flight is to bring a book that you've already started and are deeply engrossed in or a season of your favorite television show. Farchione says if people associate televisions with being safe at home, and there's a television on the plane, they will feel similar familiar feelings of comfort.

Share your secret with the flight attendants

Dr. Seif says it's a good idea to let others know you're not too keen on flying—you may be able to speak to the pilot briefly while you board the plane or receive extra attention from flight attendants during the flight. If you're traveling with friends or family members, talk to them about what makes you nervous so they can help alleviate the tension, but don't let the conversation spiral into a contest over who has had the scariest flight experience. Sometimes just knowing that others are available to help you in case your anxiety surfaces is enough to help keep that anxiety in check.

Embrace safety information—especially this video

No, your plane is not going to crash (and whatever you do, do NOT start envisioning disaster scenarios). But knowing that you're prepared for anything can be empowering. Watch an airline safety video while you're still in the comfort of your home so that you can "master" the procedure in your head (Air New Zealand did an especially entertaining take on the safety video, featuring characters from The Hobbit). Once you're on board the aircraft, take time to read the airline safety card in the seat pocket in front of you. If it makes you feel better, you could even go so far as to book your seat in the back of the plane, which has been repeatedly shown to be the safest part of the aircraft in the event of a crash.

Use this breathing technique

Allright says deep breathing is very important during takeoff and other points during the flight where you experience anxiety. "If someone is very anxious, it is actually very difficult to change their breathing pattern," he says. "Try holding your breath and then deep breathing, or better still, force yourself to breathe out for as long as you can and then take a long, deep breath." Seif and Farchione both recommended taking deep breaths, since this triggers the calming response and can help to prevent hyperventilation. Try to maintain a relaxed posture as well, and not cling to the chair's armrests, since this can heighten any anxiety you may be feeling.

Have one or two relaxation remedies handy—but use them only as a last resort

Some doctors prescribe anxious fliers with fast-acting anxiety medications like Xanax or Valium, but Farchione warns that you should be aware that each has its own side effects and that you may feel tired for hours after the plane has landed. If you don't have a prescription, herbal remedies like St. John's Wort or Scullcap may help calm nerves too, according to an article by USA Today. Bring the medication or the herbal remedy, but hold onto it as a "last resort" option. When you feel jitters coming on, start by employing a minor relaxant, such as sipping chamomile or peppermint tea. Farchione says that doing the things you associate with being calm and content will help remind you to remain calm as you fly. You may find that simply knowing the medication is there in case of emergency is comforting enough—and you can reap the benefits without the side effects.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

6 Tricks to Help Kids Fall Asleep on Long Trips

6 Tricks to Help Kids Fall Asleep on Long Trips
 Laura MIchonski

Taking children on a long trip, whether by car or by plane, can be a taxing endeavor for everyone. Since nothing helps to pass the time like a nap, I decided to round up some smart ways to calm young travelers and direct them toward dreamland.
For advice, I reached out to the most qualified expert I know—Fern Michonski, an early childhood and music education specialist with over 35 years of experience in the field.  Over the course of her career, Fern has run several preschools and her own daycare center. She also has six CDs on the market, including one that was recommended as one of the top picks for kids in the country byUSA Today—her Christmas CD, "Kids! Christmas! Fern!" (Full disclosure: she's also my mom and I'm sure the job of raising me and my two brothers was its own sort of education as well).

 Here are some of her favorite tips:
1.   Pack your children's favorite bedtime toy. Whether it's a blankie, a teddy bear, doll, or something else, having a toy comrade along for the trip will be calming and will make your children more comfortable, which is key to engendering sleep.
2.   Tell your children stories while you are driving or flying. I don't mean read a book.  Use your imagination and create a story on the spur of the moment.  Create an adventure about yourself when you were little, or imagine something exciting that you and your children could do together.  Encourage them to add parts to the story. It will keep everyone occupied and the stories you create together might just surprise and fascinate you.
3.   Pack a thermos of warm milk and a snack of peanut butter and crackers. Not only do kids love this combination, but the combination of carbohydrates and protein has been shown to promote sleep.
4.   Plan on taking your trip after dark. Eat dinner, pack the car, and head out with your children already dressed in their pajamas. Snuggle them up in their car seat and head down the road. Before you know it, your little ones will be blissfully sleeping, right on schedule.
5.    Pack your child's favorite bedtime CD. The right music can do wonders to sooth a child. Pack a quiet album that your children know and love and when you see them getting sleepy, hit play—and then sit back and watch them relax.
6.   Play the "Who Can Be Quiet the Longest?" game. Bring along a stopwatch and see who can be quiet for the longest period of time.  The kids get a kick out of trying to win and frequently they fall asleep while trying to win the game.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Royal Tyrrell Museum

Royal Tyrrell Museum

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is located in the Alberta Province in the city of Drumheller.   The museum has the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world.  It is a first class museum if you appreciate science.  The museum is located 1.5 hours from Calgary and 3 hours from Banff.  It is worth the visit.  For additional information, check out the Royal Tyrrell Museum at

Friday, November 9, 2012

Spirit Airlines Fee Challenged; India Ban in Tiger Reserves

Spirit Airlines Fee Challenged; India Ban in Tiger Reserves
Published: August 10

Spirit Fee Challenged

Lots of travelers grouse about Spirit Airlines’ ancillary fees, but one traveler is taking his complaints to a higher set of ears — the federal courthouse.
Last week, the Florida firm Podhurst Orseck, P.A., filed a lawsuit on behalf of Bryan Ray, a New Jersey passenger who is contesting the legality of the carrier’s passenger usage fee. According to the filing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the plaintiff is seeking to “recover monetary damages, restitution and injunctive relief” because of the airline’s “fraudulent, deceptive and unconscionable collection of a Passenger Usage Fee.”
“This is a way for Spirit to make more profits without providing any goods or services in return,” said Katherine Ezell, a partner with Podhurst Orseck. “It was deliberately planned to deceive the public in the way that it is named and tucked in with other viable fees.”

According to Misty Pinson, an airline spokeswoman, the carrier adds the fee to reservations booked on its Web site or over the phone. The charge on domestic and international flights is $8.99 to $16.99 per customer, each way. The fee is waived on purchases made at the airport ticket counter.
“Spirit believes the claims are without merit,” Pinson said, “and intends to defend the case.”

Though the case is in its early stage — the firm is awaiting Spirit’s response — Ezell said that potentially 5 million to 20 million people could qualify for the class-action suit. To qualify as a plaintiff, a traveler must have flown between 2008 and 2011; Spirit, however, levied the fee on and off during the four-year time span, so not all travelers will be eligible. However, affected individuals could recoup their initial outlay, a welcome payback for frequent fliers.  “If one person has flown 100 times,” said Ezell, “they will get 100 payments of the fee.” 

For more information, contact the law firm at

India’s Tiger Tourism Nixed

In an effort to protect India’s big cats, the country’s Supreme Court has temporarily banned all tourism activities in the core sections of tiger reserves nationwide. Buffer and fringe areas, however, remain open.  “This is in sync with our national wildlife policy,” said Nuggehalli Jayasimha, director of India Humane Society International. The animal activist said that the law simply extends a ban prohibiting villagers from accessing these fragile habitats.

More than half the world’s tiger population — an estimated 1,706 cats — lives in India. The endangered animals inhabit the forests of 17 Indian states and nearly 40 reserves.

The ban falls during monsoon season, when the parks are closed. Lawmakers will revisit the issue on Aug. 22, when they could lift the ruling and ease in less stringent regulations.  “It’s really a good thing,” said Josh Cohen, director and president of Wild Planet Adventures, an international wildlife tour operator. “The goal is to keep the tigers living and breeding. We all want that.”

Cohen expects that the court will resolve the issue before the parks reopen in late October and early November. As a backup, however, he has drafted alternative itineraries to different wildlife parks in India, as well as a ban-free tiger reserve in Nepal.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate

Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate

Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate is located in Sleepy Hollow, New York, the highest point of the Hudson River.  This mansion was owned by John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil.  The grounds are even more spectacular than the house.  When planning a visit, tickets for tours of the mansion can be purchased at the Philipsburg Manor visitors’ center located at 381 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591.  The attached link provides additional information

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Mills Mansion

The Mills Mansion

The Mills Mansion is located in Staatsburg, New York near the Hyde Park Mansion.  Both mansions over look the Hudson River and the Catskills Mountains.  Ogden Mills and his wife Ruth Livingston Mills were the owners of the mansion during the Gilded Age.  During that time, the mansion also had a pool, tennis courts and golf course.  Additional information can be found at the following link