Claustrophobia Medication and Tips to Make Travel More Enjoyable

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For people with claustrophobia, which involves an intense, irrational fear of enclosed spaces, an upcoming trip might bring on feelings of anxiety rather than excitement. Here are ways to help manage your symptoms with claustrophobia medication and other coping techniques, making your travel more enjoyable.

Claustrophobia Medication

Before embarking on a long trip, see your healthcare provider or therapist for guidance. Even if you don't normally take medication for your claustrophobia, they may prescribe a low dose of anti-anxiety medication to ease your tension.

Two types of medication often used to reduce travel-related anxiety are benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Benzodiazepines reduce anxiety fairly quickly by slowing the central nervous system while SSRIs take a bit longer to work as they block serotonin reabsorption.

It's important to pay close attention to your provider's instructions for using claustrophobia medication. You may need to start taking pills several days before you travel, for instance, to allow them to work. Your provider might also recommend that you avoid alcohol or follow other safety precautions.

What You Should Know About Taking Benzodiazepines for Anxiety

Teens, young adults, and cocaine and heroin users have an elevated risk of abusing benzodiazepines. If you fall into one of these categories, talk with your provider about other medication options.

Additionally, the risk of overdose increases when benzodiazepines are combined with other drugs, such as opioids. So, tell your provider if you are taking any other substances, whether legal or illegal.

Overcoming Travel-Related Claustrophobia Triggers

Certain types of travel can trigger claustrophobia symptoms. Here are a few to consider, as well as ways to overcome them.


Air travel can be difficult if you have claustrophobia. There are a few things you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable while on a plane. For example, if you have a fear of heights (acrophobia), choose an aisle seat. If you have a fear of being stuck on the plane, choose a seat toward the front so you can disembark quickly.


Long road trips can also be uncomfortable for people with claustrophobia. But one benefit of this travel method is that driving gives you the opportunity to stop and get out of the car when needed. Taking frequent stretch breaks, dividing long drives into shorter segments, and choosing good travel companions can help you relax while on the road.


While maybe used less frequently, train travel is still a mode of transport to consider—especially for people who also have aerophobia (a fear of flying). Train travel affords many luxuries to accommodate your fear that flights do not. This includes having more legroom, larger seats, and the ability to walk around at will.

Cruise Ships

If you have claustrophobia, you might worry about being confined in the small cabins on a ship. However, modern ships are virtual floating cities, filled with a great deal of open space. Choosing a comfortable cabin and learning your way around the ship are key to avoiding claustrophobia at sea.

Bus Travel

Bus companies provide a low-cost alternative to flights or trains. However, small seats, minimal legroom, and the prospect of spending hours in close contact with strangers can be challenges for people with claustrophobia. Traveling on less popular routes and at odd times can help you cope with a long-distance bus ride.

Other Ways to Cope With Claustrophobia While Traveling

A health professional can offer much more than claustrophobia medication to help alleviate your intense sense of fear during travel. They can teach you guided visualization, for instance, and other relaxation techniques to calm your nerves while in transition.

Take the time to practice your new skills before your trip, as some exercises take several days to master.

Also, if possible, travel with a supportive friend or relative. They can help you work through the anxiety, guide you through relaxation exercises, or simply keep you distracted. Your companion can also help manage details such as checking luggage, which you may feel uncomfortable handling.

Claustrophobia can impact travel in a variety of ways. With a bit of advance planning, however, there is no reason that it should prevent you from seeing the world.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces).

  2. Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug fact sheet: Benzodiazepines.

  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Benzodiazepines and opioids.

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Aerophobia (fear of flying).

Additional Reading
  • American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

By Lisa Fritscher
Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics.