My greatest fear with Misophonia used to be airports and flying. It doesn’t help that my anxiety was trying to get involved too. It was telling me that flying was going to be absolutely horrible. Since my stress levels are already crazy when going through the airport (security terrifies me), I was pretty sure that misophonia-wise I would break!
1. In the airport I realized that I don’t HAVE to stay in one spot
So long as you’re close enough to your gate that you hear boarding announcements you don’t have to stay seated. I can’t stand sitting situations because of leg movements – so I just don’t get into them! You can sit in corners, find a quiet restaurant, or if you’re a member of a certain Credit Card or Club you can sometimes get access to exclusive lounges. I’ve even just hid in a corner before…
2. Be prepared for noises
Headphones should always be charged. If you know you’ll be losing internet (such as on the plane) or insane international roaming fees, make sure you have songs downloaded to your phone or a trust old media player (like an iPod). I suggest having a back-up just in case, and have access to your charging cords. Wireless headphones are great (here are some suggestions). Have extra earplugs too. I like to already be wearing them when I get into a situation.
3. On the airplane, try to control where you sit
Many airlines have “preferred seating” where you can pay to choose a special seat which has extra leg-room, etc. Also, sometimes you can pick your seat on the plane for free. Personally, I always need to be by a window to lean against it and not feel trapped. First Class is a great option if you’re able to afford it because it provides a more comfortable environment (and usually has less seats cramped together). Of course, not everybody can afford this, so consider the preferred seating and free seat choices on booking if available.
4. Prepare to zone out
Headphones. Earplugs. A sleeping mask. A nice travel pillow. Depending on the length of your flight, it’s probably easier to take a nap and avoid the worst part of the stress (being trapped in an environment). As a bonus, falling asleep can reset your sensory system. If you’re worried about valuables, consider checking important items in your luggage (however, I’ve never had something stolen on a plane since it’s pretty obvious to steal from the person next to you).
5. Remember that airports/airplanes are STRESSFUL for EVERYONE
You can do this. You can get through it. It’s so worth it to travel, and remember, you’re not the only one who’s stressed! When in doubt, ask a flight attendant or airport staff for help and suggestions. If you explain your sound sensitivity, chances are the staff will do their best to accommodate.
Best of luck flying!Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.