How I Racked Up 12 Passport Stamps With My Extreme Fear of Flying


In between the envy-inducing snaps on exotic shores and obligatory check-ins from airports all around the world, I have been hiding a deep, dark secret: I hate flying.

My first plane ride was from New York City to Upstate New York with my two cousins and my uncle, and I remember the experience being surprisingly pleasant. The short 2-hour flight remained smooth and unchallenged from any turbulence the whole way. Aside from our “long” wait to board (in essence, any wait is long for a 6-year-old), I can only remember the joy of tearing open a foiled package of Planters salted peanuts.

It would be another 15 years before I boarded another plane again. The treacherous events from 9/11, the idea that someone would be evil enough to hi-jack and crash a plane into a building, was enough to keep me grounded. On top of that scary prospect, I never enjoyed being way up in the air — whether it’s on a roller coaster, ascending a skyscraper via elevator, or 30,000 feet up over water and land on a fast-moving plane.

I was forced to take a flight from New York to North Carolina for my sophomore year of college alone, and, naturally, I cried like a baby. Since that point on I became a BFF to the open road, and would drive 10 hours from the South to the North whenever I wanted to get home.

So how did I get from being a petrified chicken when it came to flying to now owning 12 — and soon to be 14 — passport stamps? Sorry to disappoint if you assumed a magical pill was somehow involved (though a few sips of alcohol have been known to help), but I still suffer from anxiety, and how severe it gets varies from flight to flight.

Puerto Plata DR Vacation

My first international trip was to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic in 2009. (Ed. Note: This was obviously before all the recent immigration turmoil surfaced.)

I was scared shit-less. After a five-hour flight, I landed and the world did not end. In fact, the world got better. There were people in the airport, clamoring to service me, grabbing my luggage and asking me if I needed a ride to my resort. For a New York City girl who couldn’t hail down a yellow taxi with ten $100 bills, this was a welcome luxury that was worth all the anxiety. When I reached my hotel I was greeted with a refreshing beverage and my bags were taken up to my room. The next few days would be spent tasting wonderful foods, seeing unique animals, going on water adventures, and getting to know the Dominican culture. From that moment on I was addicted to the travel life.

A photo posted by JetBlue (@jetblue) on

I suffer the most anxiety during take-off and all the moments before reaching that cruise-control zone of 30,000 feet. Basically, for the first 30 minutes I am praying to God fervently and breathing deeply. I grab a book, and try to read as much as possible to get my eyelids nice and heavy. I don’t touch coffee or tea because the caffeine will keep me up. If I’m lucky enough to score the coveted window seat, then I shut that sucker tight because a wing flying at 500 mph is not a sight I want to see. After I wake up from that long “book nap” I try to entertain myself with hour-long TV shows or movies on the flight. Each episode watched is a leg closer to the end of the long journey. Whenever I get really nervous, I remember the pilots are trained to keep the plane up in the air.

But mostly how I tackle anxiety is by understanding that even in my daily life I don’t have control. I could step out into the street and get hit by a bus, or have a freak accident in my bathtub. There is no predicting when our time will come, so it’s best to enjoy every minute of life right now.

So here it is: if you have a fear of flying, please, get over it. The world is waiting out there ready for your to explore it. Check out the pyramids in Egypt; see the Mayan ruins in Mexico; or what about Stonehenge? Don’t let transportation stand in between your ability to go out there and see what else the world has to offer.

The Ultimate Indulgence: Beauty Editor Getaway to the Royalton White Sands in Jamaica

Ended up with a puff and a red lip. #SoBeautifulInJamaica by @candaceamos

I went to Jamaica for the weekend. Not the section in the borough of Queens, but the actual Caribbean island, roughly four and a half hours away from New York by plane and where the people and the weather are almost always pleasant. I was invited along with a group of distinguished writers, bloggers, and beauty experts by Finn Partners and Strength of Nature, a hair care conglomerate that houses 12 unique brands.

Can I be candid with you? I was afraid when I received this invite. Not because I was traveling alone to another country, but because I felt like I no longer belonged in this circle. It’s been a while since I’ve written about black hair care let alone natural hair. I’ve been natural for four years now and I’m beyond the stage where I continuously obsessed over hair styles and hair types (ha!). I was excited to go on the trip, but I wouldn’t even allow myself to believe that I was really going until I arrived at the airport and checked in; no lie. Well, after a six hour delay following what seemed like a never-ending snowstorm, I finally arrived at the Royalton White Sands resort in Trelawny Parish around 9:30 p.m.

The New York crew and I met the writers from Atlanta, Washington D.C, and Chicago, who all arrived promptly, sans weather delays and airplane mechanical problems. With a few greetings and hugs, it didn’t take long for me to get my mind right and realize that this weekend would be about more than just dipping my hands in product. I’d soon be establishing new relationships and celebrating the beauty of women who look just like me.

One big massive selfie with some of the journalists and bloggers on the trip. Regram @browneyereporter #SoBeautifulInJamaica by @candaceamos

On Friday morning we had breakfast, which was followed up by an in-depth presentation featuring celebrity hair stylist Felecia Leatherwood and hair educator Pamela Hogan, who both offered a bevy of styling tips using African Pride, Elasta QP (my fave!) and Soft & Beautiful Botanicals on a spectrum of hair types. Being beauty experts for our own individual outlets allowed us to chance to extract information, skills, and techniques to implement into future stories. Like, did you know that you need more than water to moisturize your hair? There’s misinformation floating around the natural hair community that suggests we only need oil and water for our manes to thrive, but unfortunately that just isn’t the case. And natural ladies, please, don’t be afraid to detangle with combs; so many of us aren’t doing it.

Cruising around Montego Bay. by @candaceamos

After our morning tea wrapped up we took a catamaran cruise around Montego Bay. The DJ was live, the drinks were flowing, and many of us were sprawled about in our cute bathing suits like we were in a music video. And when the DJ played Beyonce’s “7/’11,” you couldn’t tell us nothing!

A group of beauty writers + Beyonce + Rum Punch = This #SoBeautifulInJamaica by @candaceamos

The highlight for me was our visit to the River Bumpkin Farm in Falmouth, Jamaica, along the Martha Brae River. We learned so much information from the names of the trees to why bananas are curved (Thank you, Island Routes!).

Y’all see my foot in the air? I was in the middle of the best foot massage I’ve ever received from “Surprise” our @IslandRoutes tour guide during the River Bumpkin tubing excursion. He gave us fresh coconuts and made our straws from a nearby bamboo tree. Then he gathered some flowers and made us all personal bouquets. It was such a wonderful and relaxing experience. #VisitJamaica #LiveFunner by @candaceamos

We were offered an opportunity to go biking, tubing, or kayaking. I was leaning more towards biking (you know, for safety reasons), but I said what the heck, YOLO, let’s go tubing and it was the best decision I made. Christina of LoveBrownSugar, Jessica of The Glamazons Blog, and Lexi of LexiWithTheCurls and I lazied around the river for hours gabbing on about life as we occasionally roughed through the rapids. The girls even got out of their tubes and jumped off a small cliff. (I didn’t because HEIGHT and SPEED).

Then our tour guide who’s nickname was fittingly “Surprise” gave us limestone foot massages that felt like heaven. We had raw coconut juice, sugar cane, oranges, and just so many sweets along the way. If his generosity wasn’t already stretched enough, he made us all personalized floral bouquets. At the end of the excursion we feasted on divine pumpkin soup, jerk chicken, and rice and beans. Ugh, so delish! I can go on and on about how amazing this trip was. I already want to go back.

I enjoyed lazying around the river with these ladies for two hours. I learned @msandrews can dance her butt off, @lovebrownsugar has been to every country around the globe, and @lexiwiththecurls is an excellent rope cliff jumper, and our tour guide is full of surprises! Haha #IslandRoutes #SoBeautifulinJamaica #VisitJamaica by @candaceamos

It just felt good to connect with my sisters in media if only just for a few days. It felt great to be reminded that I’m black woman with kinky hair and my beauty deserves to be acknowledge just the same as anyone else. We were a group of women from different places and backgrounds who united to celebrate our beauty. I had one more late revelation on my plane ride home: Our trip coincided with International’s Women’s Day, and instead of just tweeting about it, I was really living it! How’s that for divine intervention?

Peace out Jamaica! Love ya long time. Yeah mon! #VisitJamaica #SoBeautifulinJamaica by @candaceamos