How To Overcome Travel Anxiety

May 11th, 2021 by dayat Leave a reply »

Do you get uptight, fearful or scared when you consider traveling? Have you long ago even stopped considering traveling because you know you can’t do it? Is someone in your life upset with you because you “won’t” travel with them? Then you may be one the many people suffering from Travel Anxiety. In fact, you may even have a full-blown phobia of travel.

Sometimes these Travel Anxiety problems are generalized to any form of travel. This means that the person is unable to travel anywhere in any form of transportation. For others, the anxiety is more specific. By specific I mean that the individual can drive a car, ride a bus or train. But the thought of flying in an airplane brings terror into their mind and body. Others can drive a car anywhere but riding as a passenger generates a fear or phobic reaction that prevents them from going.

Here are some of the typical Travel Anxiety or phobia problems that clients present to me:

Fear of Flying. This client is someone who can use most any other form of travel but can’t get on an airplane. In the condition’s lesser form, the person has an extreme fear and requires medication or/and alcohol to tolerate the anxious feeling associated with flying in an airplane. The person may intellectually know that the plane will arrive safely. They know the statistics about auto vs air travel safety data. And in-spite of this knowledge, they remain incapacitated at the mere thought of flying.

Fear of Driving/Riding over Bridges. This client trembles at the thought of crossing a bridge either as a driver or passenger. Some people are a little better if they are the driver. Many people avoid bridges be simply staying home or driving substantially out of their way to take an alternate route or a smaller bridge.

Fear of Riding in Any Car Unless As The Driver. I’ve had a number of clients who can’t ride in the back seat of a car. They report feeling trapped and experience severe anxiety symptoms.
Note: There is a difference between a fear and a phobia. I will address this in another article as the explanation would make this particular article too long.

These fears and phobias are learned. They aren’t naturally hardwired into us at birth. Only two fears are hardwired into us at birth. These are fear of loud noises and fear of falling (This fear of falling is what many people experience today as fear of heights.). These are left over primitive “fight or flight responses” that were necessary to preserve our lives when our ancestors roamed the plains and highlands. These fear responses were necessary for survival. Knowing this can help us understand and break out of the thought patterns and behavioral responses associated with them. These really aren’t examples of pathology but a normal neurological response run amok.

The symptoms for all of these variations of Travel Anxieties have similarities. Clients report feeling agitated, nervous, stomach upset or even nausea and intense fear. The discomfort from these symptoms most often lead to avoidance. People don’t go places or do things that they might otherwise enjoy doing. Their quality of life diminishes. Further, they feel negatively about themselves and the downhill spiral gets worse and worse.

Sadly, this problem becomes worse over time. It doesn’t just go away on its own. It’s important to understand that when we accommodate an anxiety, we strengthen it. Let me put in another way. When we avoid the situation that causes the anxiety, we make the anxiety even worse next time, and the time after that, and the time after that. It just gets worse and worse and worse. Facing your fears is an overly simplistic solution, but it’s right on target. But good luck with that. Avoidance works so well that very few people will simply push through the anxiety.

So how do you overcome the problem? It’s all about the way you think and respond to the anxiety. Remember, the ‘anxiety’ is your neurology responding to a stimulus. It’s nothing more than that. You think primarily in pictures, or talking in your head. Start by remembering a time when you were totally confident. Not relaxed, but totally confident. It doesn’t need to be travel related. Think of this several times and get the confident state anchored really strong. Then, Feel that confidence as you watch yourself having already completed the travel task, when it’s all over and your safe and sound. That is to say, see the end of the flight or road trip (when it’s all over) and notice that you can hold onto the confident sensations as you do so. Do this several times. Then, watch yourself take the journey from beginning to end feeling the total confident sensations all the way through. Practice future trips over and over again. Your mind and body don’t know the difference between real and imagined rehearsal.

Most people report being “in” the feared experience when they have anxiety. In other words, they are “associated” into the experience. They see it through their own eyes as if they were experiencing it now. The other alternative is to watch yourself in the experience. This is also called a “dissociative” state. It is virtually impossible to have anxiety when we watch ourselves from afar, however far that might be. This is a useful tool. If you have suffered from a dissociative disorder in the past, it might be best to consult your clinician before utilizing this. Most of us won’t have a problem with it.

This is easier than you think to overcome. It’s even easier when you do it with a skilled clinician trained to help you overcome such a problem. Most people think it will take a long time to overcome. It can take a while, but only if you would like it to. Or, you can open your mind to the possibility that it could happen much more quickly.

I always ask my clients, “how long do you think it will take you to overcome this problem.” The reason for this is that I need to know my client’s own ideas as to how long it will take. Often, I need to honor their belief system and work within it before I can change it. Knowing a little about the other person’s “Model Of The World” can access me to a different level of understanding of the problem. If I don’t do this, we won’t get to where we want to get as easily as we want to get there. It’s as simple as that.

Knowing my client’s belief system however, can also allow me to offer the suggestion that we change it. Beliefs aren’t fixed and permanent. We have all changed belief systems numerous times in our life times.

Consider changing your beliefs or “Model Of The World” as well to make change happen more rapidly. Again, beliefs and models aren’t fixed. They were developed and new ones can just as easily replace them.

Learning to anchor a resourceful state, and strategically dissociate to build confidence and successfully rehearse will get you going more quickly than you ever dreamed possible. Seeing things from a new perspective is powerful and life changing.


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