As a gypsetter, you will always find yourself gypsetting to your next destination on an airplane. But what happens when you’re on turbulence? A really bad one? Like Death himself is just waiting around the corner? What should you do to stay calm?

Well, here’s my near-death story.

Our plane shuddered as it entered turbulence. I’ve taken so many flights by now that I know it’s just normal specially if the weather is bad. My initial reaction was to ignore it. But in this flight from Manila to Madrid via Jeddah, it is not just some turbulence.

I thought that this was the day that I will die.

When we started crossing the Bay of Bengal, our plane started shuddering like a bird freezing from the -41 degree Celsius temperature outside. I looked out the window and I couldn’t see anything. It seemed like we were inside stormy clouds as all I can see were sporadic flashes of lightning and gray swirls of clouds.

I was eating my first dinner during this time and the plane was shuddering intensely my half-filled cup of tea was spilling its dark, warm liquid on my dinner tray.

Fifteen minutes of this and I started feeling panicky. And I know it was not just me because everyone stopped eating and sat tensely, probably in prayer.

And then the turbulence stopped for awhile and we were able to finish our dinner.

And then it came back again. And this time, it would not stop.

I looked at my clock and at our route map to see where we were. We were still crossing the Bay of Bengal and it was 12:35 am on my watch. Still a long way to go.

I felt really scared because for 30 minutes straight, our plane was shuddering non-stop, bumping up and down even. The kind of bump that makes your heart skip a beat because of split-second weightlessness.

And it went on like this for an hour. I thought when we will be hovering over India, it would be over. But it was far from over.

We were already slicing India in half and our plane was far from steady. A severe headache was squeezing on my temples. My chest was painful because it compressed more than normal. My seat mates were also shifty. No one was able to sleep through this.

“Dear Buddah, I think we will nose-dive to the Arabian Sea and die.”

I was so scared I was teary eyed. I was thinking of my mom who I didn’t see to say goodbye before I left. I was thinking of my family and how devastated they would be. I was thinking of you and our future that will never be.

There were so many things running through my mind. And then I decided that I need to do something else to get it off my mind. It was already more than an hour and we were still in turbulence.

At some point during the turbulence, I went to the bathroom to take a pee. After washing my hands, I saw a moisturizer bottle and placed copious amount of it on my hands. I guess this is the way I cope? I moisturize my hands.

When I went out, the flight attendant was shouting at me to get back to my seat immediately. If everything is fine, they would still be smiling and act calmly. Not this one. This one was a shouter. When flight attendants reach the point of freaking out, that freaks me out more.

We were in turbulence for almost 3 hours. It was only when we were in the Middle East that it stopped. This was the scariest flight of my life. I couldn’t wait to get out of the plane. I even feel like this might have traumatized me a little.

So what should you do to stay calm if you’re in turbulence? Here are 4 things you can do when you find yourself in this kind of situation.

4 Things To Do To Stay Calm During Turbulence

1. Pay attention to the “fasten seatbelt” sign and always follow crew-member instructions. Know that airliners are built to endure stresses far greater than any turbulence you’re likely to encounter. While you may get bumped around a bit, rest assured that you’re safe, and your pilots are doing everything in their power to provide you with the smoothest possible ride. It seemed that my pilots were very competent.

2. Breathe deeply 10 times and tell yourself that “this, too, shall pass”. The truth is that flying is the safest way to travel. Statistics shows that there are more deaths by traveling on land than on air. So keep calm and remind yourself of this fact.

3. Stop thinking about dying. I know I didn’t do this myself but I did eventually to keep my nerves in control by doing the next advice.

4. Get busy. Read a book. This will keep your mind busy and not make it think of horrible scenarios. Or watch a movie in your entertainment system. Comedy is highly recommended at this point. Play a game in your laptop or smartphone. Whatever. Just do something to keep your mind busy.

Have you ever been in a turbulence? What do you do to stay calm?


DJ Yabis is the poster boy of Dream Euro Trip and a modern day renaissance man. Originally from the Philippines, he loves throwing dinner parties and stalking rock stars in music festivals. Subscribe or follow his adventures LIVE on Facebook or Instagram. Learn how to plan your own eurotrip.

What do YOU think?

10 Responses to “The Gypset’s Guide to Staying Calm During an In-flight Turbulence” Subscribe

  1. Jean|Holy Smithereens August 23, 2013 at 9:18 PM #

    Wow, that sounded arduous and painful! What airline was it? How I cope- believe it or not turbulence rocks me to sleep, though I dont know if i could still sleep for 2 hours straight of turbulence! LOL. i know that most aircraft accidents/crashes happen during take off and landing so im more paranoid about that than turbulence. The safety issue on turbulence is more of discomfort, and when passengers try to leave their seats – its the issue of when the passenger knocks over something/falls, etc- those are the types of dangers that are more associated to turbulence than crashing.

    • DJ Yabis August 24, 2013 at 8:47 AM #

      It was Saudi Airlines but to be fair, my return flight was fine. Well I also try to sleep and I don’t care for a few minutes of turbulence. But not while I’m eating and not for 2 hours!

      I actually get a lot of google searches about turbulence in the Bay of Bengal so maybe it happens all the time.

  2. Patti August 23, 2013 at 7:48 AM #

    Horrible – I hate flying but see it as a necessary evil. I will admit I carry valium with me – that’s how much I hate to fly. This past January on our return flight from Paris – the descent into Washington, D.C. was the worst I’d encountered I can’t imagine having to do that for 2 straight hours.

    • DJ Yabis August 23, 2013 at 7:13 PM #

      I love flying but in times like this, it can be traumatic!

  3. grasya August 22, 2013 at 9:08 PM #

    great that you’re safe and sound dj! celebrate life dj.. while we are still alive

    • DJ Yabis August 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM #

      Everyday grasya, everyday 😀

  4. Kat August 22, 2013 at 9:01 PM #

    That was really scary!

    I’m not a religious person, but I find myself praying silently whenever there’s turbulence (especially when you get that feeling as if your intestines were left in your throat when the plane suddenly drops) – and that’s not even a long-haul flight. -_-

    • DJ Yabis August 22, 2013 at 9:43 PM #

      Yes. Imagine having that feeling for 2 hours! It was torture!

  5. Jela Alcantara August 22, 2013 at 8:47 PM #

    Thank God you arrived safely 🙂

    • DJ Yabis August 22, 2013 at 9:42 PM #

      I know. That was the scariest flight I ever took

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