The Psychology Behind Fear of Traveling


Fear of flying HipLatina

Overcoming Fear

We often hold ourselves back from achieving what we want to do because of fear. We fear the unknown, fear facing a previous bad experience again, or are afraid of encountering an unfortunate moment we’ve heard or seen someone else endure. In terms of travel, all of the above reasons for being fearful can be buried under the excuses of having no time, money, or no interest. However, what could be really happening is underlying feelings of anxiety, a threat to security, and an increase in risk perception.

Let’s first define fear. According to Vocabulary.com, fear is both a noun and a verb which we use interchangeably in our daily lives:

“as a noun fear is an emotion experienced in anticipation of some specific pain or danger (usually accompanied by a desire to flee or fight) and as a verb fear is to be afraid or feel anxious or apprehensive about a possible or probable situation or event”

In an August 2011 studyThe fear of traveling: a new perspective for tourism and hospitality, suggests the attribution to our increasing fear of traveling or flying was caused by the events of September 11, 2001. These events increased the risk perception but also instilled in us the importance of security in traveling. This attack was the catalyst for the government to create the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency designed to “protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.” The creation and maintenance of this agency is a perceived symbol that traveling is still a risk.

The events of 9/11 may not be the immediate reason we are afraid to travel that we can’t deny how the psyche of Americans has changed. In an article in Psychology Today, psychoanalyst Charles B. Strozier “makes a compelling case for how the collective trauma suffered by the American people in the wake of 9/11 activated deep-seated complexes in the national psyche around apocalyptic fears, or what he calls “endism” – the location of the self in some future narrative.”

The recent attacks in Paris that killed 130 people in November 2015 can be continuous verification to many that travel is (or could be) scary, helping to grow the plant which is already rooted inside us. For these or other reasons, we develop fears around traveling: we avoid traveling alone or seek out all-inclusive resorts where we can safely hide from others, and potentially dangerous, countries, or for some of us, we take on a disinterest in traveling at all. However our fears may manifest, it’s up to us to look within ourselves to the question, and eventually overcome them.

Ask yourself, what is the reason or excuse you are not traveling?

  1. Is it work—can you find a way to take time off?
  2. Is it money—are you able to save better, cut down on costs?
  3. Do you feel travel is interesting?

Feel free to question any other reasons or excuses you may have, then…

If you’ve answered yes to all or many of the above questions, then ask yourself, is the reason I am not traveling because of fear? If it is, what are you really afraid of? Question that fear extensively until you’ve dealt with the core of the problem. At the core, you will be free and travel will then be possible.

Although this has been a short synopsis, I encourage everyone to question their fears not only about traveling but any other possible fears you may have.

Remember: “Once you become fearless life becomes limitless.”

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