For many people, travelling is the ideal way to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life, whether they’re visiting a new continent or simply a different city. But for others, even the prospect of a journey can be terrifying. Forget about surviving airport security checks or getting seasick on the person beside you, here’s a list of travel phobias that pose more difficult challenges.
At the top of the list is the most basic and all-encompassing travel phobia - the fear of travelling. This phobia appears in various forms, from common fears regarding modes of transportation to a fear of new places. Even well-made plans can induce shaking, sweating and heart palpitations when a destination seems as scary as getting there. The best way to overcome this phobia is to explore, gradually travelling further and further away from home.
The fear of strangers or foreigners can restrict your travel options. Xenophobia is more than just a social phobia that inhibits communication with strangers - in fact, people suffering from it generally avoid any travel outside of familiar surroundings. By educating yourself about the people, culture and customs of your chosen destination, new faces can appear less strange, and experiencing their traditions less overwhelming.
No one wants to touch something vile, sleep in a dirty hotel or catch a strange disease. With a fear of germs however, things most travellers take for granted - like restrooms, aeroplane seats or hotel floors - represent a minefield of horrifying possibilities. Researching the cleanest and safest attractions, activities, modes of transportation and accommodation at your chosen destination can eliminate many bad surprises. Keeping clean by regularly washing your hands, using disinfecting wipes on things you come into contact with or simply wearing gloves can also help.
If you plan to visit popular tourist destinations, a fear of crowds may make you think twice. Symptoms can include an inability to speak or think clearly, loss of control and even panic attacks. Be it a fear of being crushed, bumped or touched, sometimes the mere idea of experiencing it can cause intense anxiety. By visiting places soon after they open or just before they close, or travelling during off-peak times like winter months or weekdays, enochlophobics can enjoy the sights and avoid the masses.
For many trips, air travel is difficult to avoid. So it’s no surprise that the fear of flying is the most common travel phobia, earning an honorary place on this list. All fears, however, are actually the result of a whole range of anxieties, and treating the cause can solve the problem. Any of the above mentioned phobias can lead to a fear of flying, as well as any of the following:
- fear of turbulence
- fear of crashing
- fear of hijacking or terrorism
- claustrophobia - fear of enclosed spaces
- acrophobia - fear of heights
- thalassophobia - fear of the ocean
For any phobia, debilitating or just plain scary, the important thing to remember is that it's not a reflection of your personality. While some travel phobias seem light and easy to get over, it can ruin a perfectly good holiday or even impact your daily life. Any behaviour that infringes on your daily life can be changed through consciously learning to react in a different way to the same situation, doing a little research on where you're going and what to expect or even getting travel insurance - simple precautions can help ease your mind. It won’t be easy, but you may just be able to plan that vacation you’ve always dreamed about.