“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes, it hurts. It even breaks your heart. But that’s okay.
The journey changes you: It should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
— Anthony Bourdain
When it comes to social media platforms, there seems to be a beautiful showcase of travel photos. Perhaps you see them while you are scrolling through your Instagram or pinned to your dream trip board on Pinterest. There is an array of travel bloggers who share their lives of travel and how easy they make it look. For some though, it is not as easy as it may seem. We can blame that on anxiety, more specifically travel anxiety.
What is Travel Anxiety? The medical term for this is Hodophobia which is the fear of travel and it is a very complex phobia that can be created from many anxieties. It can come in various forms, and it can be crippling to anyone who experiences it. It is crucial to identify the root of the anxiety, become accepting of it, and learn how to combat it. This article will discuss how to accomplish these things.
When it comes to identifying travel anxiety, some people don’t even realize that they have it. There are a few fears that come along with travel anxiety such as fear of flying, vacation expenses, hearing other people’s horror stories, afraid to leave the comfort of your home, the probability of a crash, being around strange people, getting a foreign disease/bacteria, oh the list goes on. This anxiety often stops many people from leaving the comfort of their cozy home to explore the world around them. Those who don’t suffer from it see these fears as irrational, but they are very much real to the people who suffer. You are not alone, I struggle with this too as well as millions of others.
When it comes to myself personally, anxiety tends to affect me in a big way. I have a fear every time I drive due to a severe accident I was in a few years ago. I am in a constant fright that someone will hit me. When it comes to flying, I love going on airplanes because it reminds me of a roller coaster. While I enjoy the take-off and landing, I have this deep dread that the aircraft will crash mid-flight due to mechanical problems. My anxiety for that is due to watching too many movies about crashing airplanes; I would avoid these films if you have a fear of flying.
The list continues with travel-related anxiety for me. When it comes to leaving my home, I don’t want to only because I tend to worry about everything and it can be exhausting emotionally. I am sure you are thinking, “Aren’t a travel blogger? Don’t you travel for a living?” Well, yes, but let me explain.
When it comes to my anxiety, I have not always had it so bad. As a child and up till my late teens, I don’t remember having severe fear when it came to traveling. It was after I stopped taking antidepressants (which I had for a year), that my anxiety started attacking me full force every day. Due to my regular anxiety, it contributes to my travel anxiety and the fear of something terrible happening. In result, there is a constant fear something unfavorable will happen when I am traveling, and it’s just something I have come to terms. While it exhausts me in every way; I love to challenge myself to explore things out of my comfort zone, put myself in situations that are stressful, experience things I typically would not have. Why? My dreams are more significant than my fears.
How can you identify, accept, and combat YOUR travel anxiety?
- Well, the worst thing that you can do for yourself is to avoid the subject. If you keep telling yourself that these feelings are not real, then you will never get better. If you genuinely would like to travel and get out of your comfort zone, you need to look your anxiety in the face. Become familiar with your struggles and address them. Write down your fears, and try to figure out what they are. If you think hard enough, you should be able to have some things written down on that paper.
- It’s very significant to realize that you are not alone. Having a support system is essential whether it be a close friend or family member. Consult someone if you have not already, and express your struggles. If you can’t find anyone to talk with, consider visiting a doctor as they may have advice and natural remedies that can help your anxiety.
- No matter how much planning you do for a trip whether it be booking a flight, making lists, hours of research, etc.; you will still have the battle with anxiety. Your anxiety doesn’t take a vacation, but you can.
“You can reduce anxiety to a quiet buzz rather than an all-encompassing roar, but it is extremely difficult to banish it completely”
- Things will go wrong while traveling, that is just a fact. Though these happen, the chances of you getting in an accident, catching a life-threatening disease, an airplane crashing, etc. are not as common as you think. The unexpected happens, but in the end, it’s how you handle it that will determine your experience.
- Once you get past your first obstacle, it will get better over time as you travel and spread your wings over the anxiety-filled world out there. If it does not go away, do your best to fight your fears and let your desire to travel overcome your fears.
- Stay Positive. No matter hard that may be at times.
- It’s so important to set reasonable expectations for yourself. If you jump straight in, you may overwhelm yourself, and it could discourage you from trying again. Take things step by step at your own pace when it comes to planning a trip or a getaway, and don’t let others pressure you.
- Try to think outside of your perspective. Fears tend to swallow us whole and make our thoughts a dark place. Imagine yourself traveling to a destination you’ve always wanted to go and picture what it would be like to do this despite your anxiety. Another thing you could do is read about other people’s stories both negative and positive, and dwell more on the positive side of the story. Don’t let your thoughts take over your desire to explore.
- Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe. Make sure to do self-care. Learn how to take care of yourself. You are so important, and you need to know that everything is going to be okay. Life is not something that you should be afraid of and is meant to be something that you should experience.
“Travel is not really about leaving our homes, it’s about leaving our habits.” – Pico Iyer
Remember that no matter what fears or worries come your way, keep in mind the life-enriching experience that travel can give to you. Don’t let yourself travel through the journey of someone else’s vacation photos, but allow yourself to experience your own. Life will hand us limitations and obstacles, but it is our decision in the end whether we are anchored down or set free. Travel for me is a great way to challenge my anxiety and live life every day out of my comfort zone. Whether it be a getaway to the Bahamas or a trip to your local coffee shop, anxiety is nothing to fear. Now, I challenge you to identify, accept, and combat your travel anxiety just like I have done.
A Book that has recently helped me with my travel anxiety is “How to Pack: Travel Smart for Any Trip” by Hitha Palepu.
Check it out below!
Please stay tuned for future posts that discuss more on the subject on Travel Anxiety.
*Disclaimer: All tips in this article are all my own, and from personal experience with travel anxiety. The information on this Website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of physicians or healthcare practitioners. It is also not intended to diagnose or prescribe treatment for any illness or disorder. Anyone already undergoing physician-prescribed therapy should seek the advice of his or her doctor before reducing the dosage or stopping such treatment.