Hodophobia or fear of travel: why does it appear and how to overcome it?

Hodophobia or fear of travel outlines a very particular type of psychological condition. It defines those people who feel anguish for the simple fact of moving away from their comfort zone, from their home, from what is known to them and that they control. However, other phobias can also be added, such as the fear of flying or taking the car and having an accident.

It is true that the vast majority of people associate travel with leisure and pleasure. Now, there are those who see the vacation period as a great source of stress.

These are days when trips are common, trips to visit family, times to discover new places, new cities and countries. This type of situation can generate high anxiety in many.

Hodophobia or fear of travel: symptoms and causes

Beyond how unusual it may seem, there is an unquestionable fact: phobias are the most common psychiatric reality. All of us have fears, unique dimensions that we avoid and that may or may not condition our lives. Now, phobias are by themselves a type of irrational fear and an intense form of anxiety that we cannot or do not know how to control.

There are coping strategies and mechanisms that can be put into practice. Let us know, therefore, what this type of psychological condition consists of.

Sigmund Freud explained in one of his letters to a professional colleague that traveling caused him anxiety. We do not know if what the father of psychoanalysis suffered was a true phobia, because hodophobia or fear of travel can be very limiting. It is one thing to feel mild anxiety and another to be unable to leave the house.

This type of psychological disorder defines an irrational and paralyzing fear that is accompanied by intense symptoms. In other words, those who suffer from travel fear cannot always even get on that train, sit in the seat of a plane or get to the hotel they have booked. This fact can completely condition the life of those who suffer it.

On the other hand, it should be noted that the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) classifies hodophobia or fear of travel as a specific type of phobia within the anxiety disorders themselves. Let us see, therefore, the symptoms that are described for its correct diagnosis.

Hodophobia also usually manifests itself with fear of flying or having a car accident.

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How does hodophobia or fear of travel manifest?

This type of phobia, like any other, manifests itself in multiple ways. Each person shows and manifests their irrational fears in a particular way. Some do it more intensely, while others achieve certain functionality. However, we can see a series of common emotional characteristics:

  • Fear at the idea of ​​leaving our home, to separate ourselves from what is known and safe to us.
  • Intense anguish when taking the car, when getting on a plane or a train.
  • Fear of having an accident.
  • Shame at the fact that others perceive our phobia.

There are also cognitive symptoms, such as the following:

  • The person does not stop thinking about all the adverse things that can happen. Usually you feel unable to control negative and catastrophic thoughts.
  • The imagination drifts into a loop of dire images: accidents, kidnappings, terrorist attacks.
  • Block in the face of specific events, such as having to book a trip. Inability to focus attention on other things.
  • Confusion and trouble take decisions.

Finally, the physical manifestations of the disorder are worth mentioning. Hodophobia or fear of traveling has innumerable physical signs that range from minor to major severity:

  • Dizziness and tachycardia.
  • Stomach ache and intestinal disorders at the idea of ​​taking a trip.
  • Sweating with dry mouth

Studies, such as those carried out at the University of California, for example, indicate that there is a direct relationship between phobias and panic attacks. That is, in the case of hodophobia, we can see extreme situations in which the person comes to suffer these reactions to the idea of ​​taking a trip.

Find out more: How to overcome fears?

What is the cause of hodophobia or fear of traveling?

Something that we must be clear about phobias in general is that there is not always a clear trigger. Phobias of non-specific origin are quite common and hodophobia is one of them. However, research works such as those carried out at the University of Marseille by Dr. René García indicate the following about the neurobiology of fear:

  • The origin may be in traumatic events in the past. In the case of fear of travel, the person may have suffered an accident in the past or were the victim of a terrorist attack.
  • Likewise, there may also be a genetic or even a family pattern. If our parents were also afraid of travel, airplanes or boats.

Exposure therapy is the best technique for treating fear of travel.

How are these types of phobias treated?

The most suitable coping mechanism for all phobias is cognitive behavioral therapy. Within this approach, the following resources are usually applied:

  • Exposure technique: It consists of bringing the person closer to phobic stimuli in order to work on thoughts and emotional reactions.
  • Cognitive restructuring: assumes that the patient is able to detect negative and irrational thought patterns to transform them into healthier approaches.
  • Emotional management: Detecting paralyzing emotions, recognizing them, naming them and transforming them into relaxed and satisfying states is a key tool.
  • Techniques of breathing and relaxation: hodophobia or fear of traveling can also benefit from proper breathing and relaxation techniques. They are complementary resources to the cognitive-behavioral therapy itself.
  • Virtual reality: Currently, virtual reality is an effective resource in the treatment of phobias.

Phobias paralyze

To conclude, we can say that all irrational fear can affect our quality of life. In case of not managing it, the most common is that new phobias end up emerging until they lead to a state in which anxiety takes complete control. Let's avoid reaching these limits: let's ask for expert help.