Hodophobia. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Hodo-who?! Most people have heard of some of the more common phobias – like the fear of heights [acrophobia]; snakes [ophidiophobia]; spiders [arachnophobia]; and being in small, enclosed spaces where escape is difficult [claustrophobia], but hodophobia usually throws people for a loop. It’s the fear of travel, and it can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from being afraid to fly to not wanting to visit new places to refusing to leave one’s own home to even go outside.
When I hear people talk about travel, it’s usually in the sense that they would like to do more, but have limited time, and more importantly (at least in their minds), limited financial resources. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions about traveling – the expense of it. Certainly, going on a trip requires money, but there are numerous travel companies, websites, services, apps, etc. that can help minimize costs, if you’re willing to do a little planning and research ahead of time. Traveling doesn’t have to cost a fortune…so don’t use that as an excuse for why you can’t or don’t travel more. If traveling is important to you, trust me, you’ll make a way out of no way!
No, I think the issue goes far deeper than that. When people are truly honest with themselves, you find many are simply afraid to travel. Anxious about going through airport security procedures, fearful of being on a plane in the middle of the air or on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, & scared to go out of the country. Because what if they don’t like the food, can’t communicate with the locals? What if they have an emergency or become the victim of a crime or God forbid, political war breaks out? What if. Their mind runs away with them, as they worriedly conjure up scenarios that most likely will never happen. What’s happened is that their fears and anxieties have caused them to talk themselves right out of traveling.
So they stay put, and this is how it goes every time they contemplate taking a trip. While they’re doing that, the days, weeks, months, and years pass by. And that dream of wanting to travel someday remains just that: a dream.
But it doesn’t have to be just a dream. More than time, more than money even, what traveling requires is simply courage. The bravery to venture beyond the known into the unknown; the self-confidence that you can handle any scenario you may find yourself in; and the patience and humor to accept situations that may not go according to plan…all of these things comprise the spirit of courage needed to travel.
And how does one develop that courage (if it doesn’t already reside within) and manage travel fears?
(1) Identify your travel concerns in detail What can you do to eliminate them? You take control of fears by logically and rationally identifying their root causes and ways to mitigate them. In other words, you give it a face and a name. If sightseeing at night is a concern because you fear for your safety, limit it to daylight hours or well-lit areas with heavier traffic. If being a solo traveler gives you cause for pause, book group tours. If you tend to get lonely during trips, invite a companion along. In other words, find a solution to the problem; don’t just live with the problem, because that’s not living at all.
(2) Do your planning and research – The more information you can get in advance about where you’re going, how you’re getting there, what you’ll be doing, etc., the more comfortable you’ll feel and the better you can address your identified concerns.
(3) Dig into your relaxation modes – What portable objects can you bring and what methods / processes can you implement during your trip to reduce / eliminate stress and anxiety (e.g. meditation, music, a massage, Skyping nightly with a loved one).
(4) Take care of yourself physically – Eat healthy, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, avoid drugs and go easy on the alcohol. Don’t do anything to heighten or aggravate your already elevated emotional state. Look for ways to soothe the savage and often irrational beast of fear.
The tips above represent tangible, intellectual steps you can take to help manage any fears you have about traveling, but the biggest thing you can do (in my opinion) is intangible and quite personal. Dig deep within yourself and do whatever it takes to tap into your reservoir of courage.
There have been times when I was on the verge of doing something I found a bit scary, and I literally scolded myself to “buck up” and “suck it up,”or to go sit down somewhere and “shut up!” It was my method of forcing myself to step outside my comfort zone, pushing myself beyond what I perceived as limitations, and stretching myself so I could grow beyond who and what I currently was. And it’s worked, every single time.
Whether you incorporate some or all of the tips above, the bottom line is, don’t live your life in a state of fear. Don’t miss out on the beautiful places, interesting people, diverse cultures, and thrilling adventures this world has to offer by being so fearful of going somewhere that you end up going nowhere.
“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.” ~Paulo Coelho
This story was curated by Sonjia Mackey.