6 Ways to Cope With the Fear of Traveling

Man and woman looking frightened, sitting in airplane seats

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The fear of traveling is known as hodophobia. The phobia manifests itself in numerous ways, from hesitancy to travel to new places to a near-inability to leave the home. Some people are afraid only of specific methods of transportation, such as planes or trains, while others fear being a passenger on all types of trips.

Symptoms of Hodophobia

Like all phobias, hodophobia often causes physical symptoms, such as shaking, sweating, or crying. You may also experience gastrointestinal distress and headaches.

Hodophobia often makes it difficult to perform the necessary tasks involved in a trip. You might find it tough to navigate the airport or cruise terminal, deal with checking your luggage, follow security procedures, and wait patiently in the event of a delay. You might become confused when checking into a hotel room, reading a map, or deciding where to eat.

Tips for Coping With a Fear of Traveling

Although it is best to consult with a mental health professional for any phobia, many people find that planning and organization can help combat mild symptoms of hodophobia.

  • Avoid Alcohol and Drugs. Although it is tempting to take a sleeping pill or have a few glasses of wine and sleep through your trip, self-medicating can actually make you feel worse. Do not take anything without checking with your physician, and pay close attention to any special instructions the doctor provides.
  • Learn What to Expect. Search the Internet for information on your hotel. Look at deck plans for your cruise ship or seating charts for your plane or train. Learn where important facilities and amenities are located. Familiarize yourself with security procedures, and be sure not to pack anything that is prohibited.
  • Plan Your Route. If you are driving to your destination, sit down with a map and plan how far you will travel each day. Make hotel reservations and note the locations of nearby restaurants. If you are traveling by public carrier, such as a ship or a plane, confirm your bookings a few days before you leave. Allow plenty of time to arrive early and make a backup plan in case of delays.
  • Rest and Hydrate. Get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your trip. Carry water throughout your journey along with a few salty snacks. Exhaustion and dehydration make it more difficult to face challenges.
  • Take a Friend. If possible, avoid traveling alone. A companion can help you stay calm and handle details such as checking bags or hailing a taxi. A friend may also run interference if you need time alone to calm down.
  • Visualize. In your mind's eye, picture yourself walking through all the major steps in your journey. Watch yourself stroll through the airport, sit at your gate, and board the plane. Imagine yourself effortlessly negotiating city traffic and finding the perfect parking spot. Visualizing success builds confidence and reduces stress.

Phobias Related to Hodophobia

Hodophobia is sometimes confused with agoraphobia, but there are important differences. In agoraphobia, the specific fear is of being trapped during a panic attack. In hodophobia, the specific fear is of the travel itself. The difference is subtle and may be difficult to recognize.

Hodophobia is often linked to a variety of other disorders. Fears of flying, cruise ships, trains, and driving are sometimes at the heart of hodophobia. Claustrophobia, risk aversion, the fear of authority, and even performance anxiety sometimes play a role in this fear.

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