I’m too scared to travel…


Danger is real…but is it danger?

The thought of traveling makes most of us swoon, but for others it will only ever be a thought. It won’t be because of finances, but due to a host of psychological barriers. These to will need to be conquered, before we ever take off. Common concerns I hear about are:

  1. Phobias-Fear of flying, fear of the unknown
  2. Anxiety 

Phobias…I ain’t never scared

Keep in mind individuals with phobias know they have it an know it’s irrational. So they don’t need you tell them, “That’s irrational” and “Just do it”.

For severe phobias, one should seek a licensed professional. Especially if it impacts your quality of life. Examples of this include: needing to fly for work and social isolation.

~If your work requires you to fly an you have had to quit jobs, be replaced, or turn it down. This is a problem potentially long term for promotions and your self esteem, etc. 

~Say all of your friends are going on a trip every few years, and you always say no due to your phobia. However, you really want to go. This would be an example of impacting your quality of life, as it socially isolates you.

Of course, all psychological concerns are always about extremes. Two people can have the same phobia and it manifest (fancy psych term) differently. Not every phobia will need aid. A fear of clowns should not impact your quality of life, unless you want to work for the circus.  But seriously, there are real phobias out there, so just be aware of how it impacts your life (work, relationships, and happiness). 

Anxiety…fancy meeting you here

No shocker Mr. Anxiety shows up here. Anxiety can be a symptom, it can also be a disorder (such as a phobia, which is an anxiety disorder).  You often here people say, “that gives me anxiety”. Think of anxiety as feeling keyed up or on edge. Some people experience bodily symptoms.

For example, let’s say you had a presentation to give to your CEO and a promotion was riding on it. In general, you know the content, but you really need that promotion to pay for the rest of your cruise, or you lose the deposit and all the other money you put into it! AHHH!!! 

You may experience heart palpitations, sweating, sleep problems, worry, and meta-worry (fancy psych term for worrying about worrying, yes that’s real). Normally, you may be a cool cucumber, but with so much riding on it you become anxious. This would be considered normal.

If you were roaming around life like this everyday, you most likely have an anxiety disorder. Once again, seek professional help.

When it comes to travel, we all get a little anxious. Here are some points to be aware of:

  1. The excitement leading up to a trip can make it hard to sleep and make you feel a little on edge. Planning out your trip and communicating roles for the trip can help minimize anxiety (and conflict as a result of anxiety).
  2. I often freak out thinking, this plane may not make it. We’ve all done that.  The reality is the chances of anything happening on a commercial airliner are slim. Be realistic and test your theory as if you were an investigator. Poll some friends and acquaintances on their flight experiences.
  3. What “if-ing”. What if something happens, what if i’m robbed, what if the I don’t like the food. What if-ing only makes things worse. A what if (what we term ruminating thoughts) are typically never positive. For every negative what if, say two positive what  if’s…and try to stick with only positive. Planning, researching an area, traveling in a group/partner, and registering with the state department can cut much of this down. See the end of my post on packing to learn more about the state department.
  4. Feeling anxiety in your body at customs? Or on the plane? Plan your activities to stay busy. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or music. There are even apps on meditation and breath exercises proven to help reduce anxiety and stress. headspace and thinkup are two I’ve recommended to clients before. They’re free! However, there are many more, so find what suits you.

The mind can take you places you don’t want to be. Danger is real, but fear is in the mind. Think about that. Is it helpful? Is it true? is it harmful? These are the three questions to ask yourself when fear comes knocking.

~Dr. K



4 thoughts on “I’m too scared to travel…

  1. Pingback: Recoup and Conquer list – Recoup and Conquer

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