What Is a Real Travel Phobia?

When I ran across an online article by a major travel player titled Strangest Travel Phobias, I was certainly intrigued.  But not for long....

Most of us are familiar with the very real and disabling fear of flying phobia, Aviophobia, and how incapacitating it can be for those who suffer with it.

As a 'white-knuckle' flyer myself, I have great compassion for those travelers who deal with this on a more sinister level - who simply can’t fly due to whatever fears or anxieties combine to keep them from trips requiring travel by air.  

There are successful and proven methods to help conquer fear of flying: behavioral classes, hypno-therapy, and other specific types of professional counseling.

I once had a neighbor who used a combination of these efforts with good outcome.  Although she doesn’t travel frequently, she does fly today, some fifteen years after successfully learning how to overcome her fear of flying.

But for some sufferers, the fear of flying phobia is just too great. These frus-trated travelers spend their lives moving around only by ground - a limiting situation, if you have dreams of traveling the world.

For me - and countless other fearful flyers - it’s more a case of mind over matter.

I find when I travel frequently, my fear takes a back seat. 

But if time elapses between airline trips, I spend several days before my flight worrying about airplane safety and calling on whatever forces I can to calm my nerves and fears and, please, spare me on my upcoming flight.

So far, so good.

Fear of Hotels?

The Ancient Rock of Cashel

Then there are what some would call a hotel phobia [not a named phobia].

The panic is fear of staying on an upper floor of a high rise hotel. While some may call this common sense, many phobics see it as rational...if the hotel catches fire, they want to be able to jump to safety.

I call this very real anxiety 2nd floor syndrome. Overnight accommodations must be no higher than the hotel’s 2nd floor. This alleviates the fear of not being able to escape, if a fire or similar catastrophe should strike.

But, let’s be frank.  This doesn’t work for other hideous possibilities in our current geo-political world. There are travelers, depending on where in the world they find themselves, who seek only accommodations that will get them up and out of the way from anything that might occur at street level.

It all comes down to personal choice. 

Fear of Escalators?

While fear of flying sufferers seek ways to reduce their anxieties, the article men-tioned above could be said to exhibit a less than compassionate take on what is a real situation for many travelers.

Fear of long words included as a travel phobia? I think not.

But who am I to say?

I, myself, suffer from one of these weird travel phobias.  You’ll find it listed in the article: they call it escalaphobia.  Fear of escalators.

I know...it sounds silly. And even though it’s not limited to travel situations, in my case it began on an international trip on one of those escalator-type people mover sidewalks, [I remember the date, time, and circumstance] and try as I might to conquer it, it’s stayed with me for years.

I was traveling on an industry trip to Europe for a wonderful, but short and intensive overview of Amsterdam’s high-end hotels.

Springtime in the Netherlands

For our noonish return flight home, our group was rushing through Schiphol Airport after a hurried hotel inspection earlier in the morning.

In those days, you actually dressed tor travel.  And being on 'official' business, we were duly outfitted in business attire, including the female work fashion of the day, 3 inch heels.

Along with our carry on bags [non-restricted at the time], we were manhand-ing rolling luggage to be checked, coats and jackets [it was off season], purses and attachés, and in that prehistoric age preceding digital travel information, almost 40 pounds each of printed promotional materials collected from the hotel venues we’d visited during our trip.

If this had been the only issue, it might not have made a difference.  But I’d left an ongoing traumatic personal situation at home, which I was rushing headlong back into with my arrival back in the States.

About half way down the 3rd moving walkway, arms shaking with the weight I carried and legs trembling from trying to balance on the walkway with my totally inappropriate shoes, I froze. 

Travel brochures spilled from my arms, while my rolling bag jammed between me and the guard rail, causing me to lose my balance.  With the end of the walkway fast approaching, my feet became lead bricks, and I knew I was going down.

Somehow, two of our group riding behind me sprouted angel's wings, and before I could hit the floor, lifted me from the walkway onto the safety of solid ground beyond.

Was I embarrassed?  To say the least! 

Did I make it to the plane we were rushing toward?  Yes, but barely

Did I ever see either of my guardian angels again in my life?  No

But never do I face an escalator that I don’t wish for their presence.

Other Travel Phobias

Having forgotten the incident by the time I arrived home, there were other more pressing matters awaiting me. 

It’s ancient history now, but within days I found I could no longer take that first step of flight onto a down escalator.  I can’t until this day.

I, who as a young mother, used to push occupied baby strollers on 2 wheels up and down them, without giving it a second thought!

Mother Swan With Her Ugly Ducklings

Those who don’t suffer from any form of anxiety, probably think a 'travel phobia' is an irrational excuse for self-victimization.  I‘m the first to admit some of the phobias listed in the article above seem a bit bizarre.

There are, however, several anxieties that are true travel phobias:

  • Agoraphobia – fear of open spaces or public places
  • Decidophobia – fear of making decisions
  • Xenophobia – fear of strangers and/or foreigners
  • Nomophobia – fear of not having mobile phone use [Maybe]

Hopefully, none of you reading here suffers from these.

In most cases, I'm thankful I can do a work-around with my personal phobia, especially when traveling.  [Although, I do have a problem getting to the Tube in London.]

But for those flightless souls whose anxiety prevents them from taking to the skies to explore the world, I have the utmost sympathy and empathy for their phobic travel trials.

Check out the articles below for information that may help you, or anyone you know, who suffers from a travel phobia.  Or do some research for help online.  You're not alone.

And phobia or not, there’s a world of beauty out there waiting to be discovered.  

For more info and articles on travel phobias, see these  sources:

 TravelandLeisure.comBudgetTravel.com USAToday.com


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