Overcome your fear of travelling

Written by Jane Pendry
As a hypnotherapist, helping people with anxiety-related issues, I am often asked: "What are the most common fears and phobias you work with?"
The answer is, indisputably, fears and phobias related to travelling.

Note: although the 'stay at home' rule ended on 29 March, there are still many restrictions in place, which will be removed as we move into summer. However, many people are already planning to travel later in the year.

Fears related to travel
Fears related to travelling may be linked to everyday travel, or travelling overseas, which is even more out of our comfort zone.

Travelling fears can include:

  • Fear of travel itself - hodophobia
  • Fear of flying - aerophobia
  • Fear of driving - vehophobia
  • Fear of being a passenger - amaxophobia
  • Fear of being ill - emetophobia, germophobia
  • Fear of insects - entomophobia
  • Fear of spiders - arachnophobia
  • Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia

What causes these fears, what drives us to tackle them, and what can be done to resolve them?

Above all, how do we get from the fearful place to here…

Why do we create fears around travel?
When we travel somewhere new, by definition we are out of our comfort zone. That makes us anxious.

Photo by Ludovico Lovisetto on UnsplashAnd there are a host of other reasons why travelling becomes stressful.

The most common reported causes in my clinic are:

Becoming a Parent
Being responsible for a vulnerable baby, and then driving with the baby in the car understandably can lead to heightened anxiety. This anxiety can develop into a persistent fear or phobia. I see a lot of young mothers with fear around driving.

A lack of experience  
Quite simply, if travelling is a new experience because there hasn't been any opportunity to travel, it&apos's natural to be anxious and fearful. It may be that research and planning, practical knowledge, and skills will overcome those anxieties. However, when the fear feels overwhelming and debilitating, and it is stopping you from travelling, it may to time to seek help.

Past trauma
If someone has been in a car accident or in a particularly turbulent and dramatic flight, the fear of the experience can become embedded in the mind, creating persistent fear and anxiety, or a full-on flying phobia. This is a very common problem and quite easy to resolve.

A build up of stress and anxiety over time
Simply being very stressed or anxious makes anything that requires your focused attention, or any new activities, feel overwhelming. It may be that you are just stressed and overwhelmed in general. Then all you need to do is reduce stress and sort your sleep patterns, and travelling will once again become effortless and enjoyable.

When fear of traveling becomes a phobia it's called hodophobia.
This phobia can manifest itself in many different ways, from procrastination and hesitancy, to avoiding travelling to any new places.

Photo by Hanson Lu on UnsplashFor some people, the fear of driving or travelling on a bus can be so overwhelming, they struggle to a leave home at all. Such an intense fear or phobia can then lead to social isolation, generalised anxiety, depression, and even conditions like OCD.

While some people's fears are linked to specific modes of transport, such as planes or trains, others fear being a passenger in a car or driving.
For many, fear of travelling is linked to another phobia such as agoraphobia (fear of wide open spaces) or claustrophobia (fear of small spaces).

Self-limiting beliefs
We carry with us self-limiting beliefs, often instilled from childhood. We believe things like: "I'm not good enough, I'm not clever enough, I'll never be able to …". We all have real physical limitations but many of these are in our mind.

It's all in the Mind!
Being in a state of overwhelming fear moves people into their primitive minds, making it really challenging to manage all the organisation involved in travelling – checking-in luggage, going through check in, following security procedures, or dealing with delays.

Every part of the journey becomes overly challenging.

All of these issues are linked to how the brain works and how we move from the intellectual sensible part of the brain to the irrational primitive part when we are under threat. When that happens, we literally cannot think rationally, solve problems, or come up with new solutions.

All of these fears can be resolved.

The good news is that all of these issues can be resolved in most cases with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.

Motivations for Overcoming Travel Phobia
Here are some of the many reasons people are driven to overcome hodophobia and related phobias.

Family life
We don't want to pass our fears on to our children – we want to be able to drive them to school or after school clubs. A family wedding or funeral and other family gatherings mean we may need to drive longer distances – out of our locality and out comfort zone.

Work and Career
We need to travel to work or to conferences and training events further afield. We want to move forward in our career and that may require driving or flying.

Our partner, our family, or ourselves would like to travel to new interesting destinations with confidence and without fear.

Social life
Our social life has become restricted and we don't want to be socially isolated; or we just want to make new interesting friends.

Overcoming your Fear of Travelling
Whatever the reason we know that it's relatively quick, easy and cost-effective to resolve irrational fears, phobias, and even traumas linked to driving, flying, or travelling overseas.

Most fears related to travelling are the result of general anxiety or a loss of confidence. In this case a short course of Hypnotherapy resolves most travel related phobias.

Overcoming Phobias
Phobias are remarkably easy to resolve with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.

Photo by Wouter Naert on UnsplashI'm always amazed at how few people choose to resolve their phobias. Usually, they have simply adjusted their lives around their phobia. It feels part of who they are.

When the phobia is shifted so quickly and painlessly, they are often astounded and wish they had done it sooner.

Resolving Past Traumas
We treat travel and phobias linked to traumas slightly differently. By literally 'Rewinding' the trauma and changing the way we tackle events, it's possible to resolve the trauma completely.

Reducing Anxiety Related Fears
For any fear related to anxiety, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is usually the best approach. By calming the central nervous system and facilitating the client to change the way they think, act, and react at a subconscious level, hypnotherapy both reduces stress and anxiety and builds confidence and resilience

Solution Focused Approaches
All Solution Focused approaches focus on now and the future – the outcomes you want, NOT the problems you don't want. So, with travel related phobias, clients are encouraged to create a vivid picture of how they want their life to be when their phobia or fear has been resolved.

The Solution Focused Hypnotherapy works like this…

I ask questions.
Imagine this problem was solved for you, what would you notice?

Will you be able pick up your children from school, to take the baby to hospital, or drop the children off to sleepovers?

Will you go on holiday, travel somewhere really interesting, visit relatives overseas?

Will you be able to go to a family event? What would it mean to you if you could? Why is that important to you?

You create your Preferred Future
The description of how things will be when you have resolved your travel fears and related phobias is called the Preferred Future.

We want this to be as vivid as possible. Once you have defined the outcome you want, you are telling your subconscious mind what you want the outcome to be. Now your subconscious knows what you want, it can start helping you to get there.

By shifting out of your negative problem-focused brain, and describing the wonderful vision of yourself driving, flying, or visiting somewhere new – and creating a vivid picture in your mind – you are already beginning to create that future.

Scaling and Incremental Steps
The Solution Focused scaling exercise involves measuring where you are on a scale between 0 to 10.

We start with the idea that a score of 10 is your Preferred Future – the picture of how you want things to be.

Let's say your 10 is when you are inter-railing across Europe knowing everything is planned and feeling excited and joyful.

Or your 10 might be simply being able to get in a plane, feeling calm and in control.

Or your 10 might be driving down to the coast as naturally as you drive to the local shop.

Where are you now?
Once we have established what your 10 is, I ask:

"If 10 is your Preferred Future, and 0 is as far away from that goal as possible… Where are you now?"

You throw out a number. It's subjective and instinctive.

Perhaps you say 3.

I ask, "Why are you a 3 and not a 0?"

You reflect a little and consider all the things that are working well – things that make you believe you could successfully travel.

Scenario 1: You have a passport, you've been in Europe before, you speak basic French etc. And together we explore everything else that's in place that will help you reach your goal.

Scenario 2: You can drive to the shops and work every day feeling relaxed, calm, and in control at the moment.

The Miracle Question
Then it's the Solution Focused Miracle Question. It goes like this.

"If you went to bed tonight, and a miracle has happened, and when you woke up you were 4 on the scale – that's one step forward – what would you notice was different? "

The idea is that you are starting to imagine and create that preferred future, one step at a time.

Your preferred future is being manifested. You are making steady incremental changes that will take you to your vision of the ideal travelling experience.

Hypnotherapy or Hypno-coaching
The gentle, safe process of hypnosis helps you envisage and embed your preferred future, and trains your subconscious mind to be calm and in control in all circumstances, to confidently plan forward and to remain calm and in control.

Imagination and reality
Your travelling dreams are becoming a reality. The subconscious mind can't tell the difference between imagination and reality. So, by imagining your perfect journey or journeys, you are rehearsing that reality.

Photo by ardito ryan Harrisna on UnsplashYou create a 'pull' motivation that's so strong it pulls you forward to your desired outcome (rather than away from your fears which doesn't work so well as a motivation). 

Start where you want to end.
You can do this exercise now.
Write down the month and year you want to travel. Now write what you are doing in that day, in the present tense and in vivid first-person narrative (I am... not I will be) what you will be doing.

Create your Preferred Future
"It's Summer 2022.  I am in a train going across Europe. I am visiting [list countries] and staying in mid-priced hotels with friends. I have a comfortable budget of £3,000 and am enjoying making new friends, seeing new sites, and learning the basics of new languages."

Now take a few minutes to close your eyes and imagine you are at this ideal destination. Ask yourself …

  • What am I be seeing?
  • What am I doing?
  • What can I taste, smell, touch?

Make the sensations very real in your mind. Linger there for a while. How does it make you feel?

You have created a vivid, experiential vision of your future. A vision so compelling you are motivated to get there.

That is the power of your imagination.

Planning ahead
Realising this vision will, of course, take some effort and planning. But now you have a clear vision to keep you focused and motivated.

Discussing your plans with experienced travellers and travel experts will help you work out what you need to do to get there: passports, flights, booking trains and hotels, ensuring you travel safely, know what to pack, and so forth.

Envisioning your dream journey will give you the motivation to do the work that will get you where you want to go.

Your Preferred Future is Happening Now
Notice, we write the Preferred Future or Goal as if it's happening right now … but it is dated in the future.

Pin your Preferred Future on the fridge and look at it every day. Every decision you make with regard to travelling takes you closer to this vision and keeps your mind clear and focused on the outcome you want.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to Help you Realise your Dreams
Imagining your future in this vivid way, will likely just give you the confidence you need to create your travel dreams.

However, if you need some support or help removing or managing your self-limiting beliefs, fears, phobias, or anxiety, then Solution Focused Hypnotherapy might be the answer.

Through Solution Focused Hypnotherapy you can learn the right strategies to stay calm and relaxed wherever and however you travel. In no time at all, you will be able to stay calm and in control when traveling by car, train, or plane; travelling to friends and relatives, and travelling to far flung exotic countries.

Good luck overcoming your travelling fears and enjoy happy travelling.

Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
35 Farm Close Road, Wheatley, Oxon OX33 1XJ
p: 07843 813 883
e: jane@sense-ability.co.uk
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