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What it means to travel with fear?


Alicia is a Business Development Executive. For the past 10 years, Alicia has been heading the sales team of company and her negotiation skills are extraordinary. As part of her job, Alicia must often travel and gosh, Alicia is all stressed about traveling. The word flying gives her butterflies and knots in her stomach. She does not like to fly as she feels that the thought itself of the entire process of packing up her essentials to carrying her documents and boarding a flight to reach a new destination and the after-arrival formalities. stresses her a lot. John is another executive who hates the idea of boarding a flight as he is too stressed inside the flight especially when the flight takes off or lands onto the ground.

It is not uncommon for people like Alicia, John and many others to get uneasy with traveling. This is a phenomenon called ‘travel anxiety’. Well this may not be a welcoming term as it has its price to pay.

Why does anxiety happen?

Anxiety is defined as a feeling of apprehension and fear, characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress. Anxiety can affect anyone irrespective of age and sex, with some people experiencing it up to an extent that they start feeling sick that affects their work. Each person has a unique chemical make up so the anxiety symptoms may vary from person to person.In general, everyone may experience feelings and physical symptoms of stress when dealing with difficult situation or people which is very common which may not be treated as an ‘anxiety disorder’. In medical terminology, people with diagnosed anxiety disorders may suffer from disability as a result of their response to stress. It is termed as a disorder, only when a person becomes physically, psychologically or emotionally symptomatic, fearful or distraught by anxiety.

Anxiety may be caused due to different reasons and travel is no exception. Persons who suffer from anxiety in general in every other context may develop self-consciousness for travel too. Such a case is circumstantial phenomenon and is temporary by nature. It might cause dizziness, drowsiness and tiredness, needles and pins, muscle aches, shortness of breath etc. Pre- travel anxiety is due to certain self-createdinhibitions of the sufferer which may be involuntary in nature. ‘Have I packed all of my clothes that I will be needing?’ One might be tempted to check and re check again. Or ‘Am I going to reach the airport on time?’ ‘What if I miss my flight?’ ‘What if I fail to reach my terminal right on time’ and so on. Or for some other people who are claustrophobic are uncomfortable inside the flight. Some others might be anxious thinking ‘what if the flight malfunctions? Some people, if not all these might find it too exhausting to wait in case of flight delays.

Whatever may be the reason for anxiety, people who are affected by this phenomenon, are silent sufferers and feel helpless at times. Anxiousness for every trifle matter initiates hesitation and in the extreme case avoidance of the situation.

But how can someone who has travel anxiety can cope up with the stress? It has been an accepted fact that the best way to deal with anxiety is to learn to cope up with stress.

Pre planning travel in advance:

Pre-planning the travel when possible is a great way to keep oneself organized and relaxed. While travel might have some unforeseen situation, which is beyond your control, planning for things about which one has control can make things easier. Acknowledging the fact that some things might go wrong is the best way to deal stress. Knowing about the destination to go in advance and pre planning for the logistics keeps your calm. Also, simple steps like making a list of all travel essentials and keeping them ready well in advance, planning travel finance, making an itinerary can help reduce stress.

Relaxation techniques:

Dr. Herbert Benson, of the Harvard Medical School in the 1970’s had concluded that a healthier way to avoid stress is to invoke relaxation response which is a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways such as deep breathing, body scan, guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, practicing ancient arts such as yoga, tai chi and qigong and repetitive prayer which can bring calm and reduce stress. Practicing one or few of these techniques regularly for at least for 20 minutes a day can help reduce stress. It is widely believed that the physical aspects of these practices offer a mental focus that can help distract the mind from racing thoughts.

Traveling more often:

One way of dealing with stress is to keep doing the activity that causes stress so that the body gets acclimatized to the situation and no longer feel stressed about it. By taking it up and experiencing it one starts to build confidence over the initial hesitations and feel good about traveling. Thinking the positives associated with travel can come a long way in diverting the negatives.

Accepting the fact of anxiety:

Anxiety can be handled by preparing the mindset to handle anxiety. When the reasons causing anxiety, be it travel or whatever are known and anticipated, taking timely measures can come a long way in managing stress. Psychologists are of the opinion that to truly overcome anxiety, panic and agoraphobia, one must accept the fear, face it, relax into it and expose it for what it is – baseless and harmless.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”– Lao Tzu

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