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Beating Your Worst Travel Phobias
Fear of flying, fear of spiders, fear of... should not keep you from travel!

Are you prone to travel phobias? Does your heart go into lockdown when the plane doors are closed? Do you hide in the next room if a spider crawls across the floor? Do you get dizzy just thinking of mountains?

If the answer is yes to any of these, you may suffer from one of these phobias. If you love travel, that can be a real blow.

Millions of people suffer from these anxieties, and they avoid driving, flying and many other travel-related activities because of these irrational fears - not to mention the various phobias related to insects, animals, other creepy crawlies and flying things we inevitably find on the road.

Since I'm not a health practitioner, I won't delve into the medical aspects of any of this. However, my personal experience may be of help to you.

travel phobias - spidersPeople have plenty of fears when they travel - many of these aren't even travel-related, like spiders

Sometime in my twenties, I developed an irrational fear - I became scared of flying. I'd been flying since I was a baby and loved it, so I have no idea what caused it. I just woke up one day with this terrible sense of foreboding that my next plane was going to crash. And when it didn't, I simply assumed I'd miscalculated and that the next one would be 'it'. It is now a number of years later, and many many flights.

Adding insult to injury I wasn't satisfied with one - I needed two travel-related phobias! I became afraid of heights, and for someone who loves hiking in the mountains I can tell you this was not welcome.

Not being the type to sit and wait for something to happen, I tried many things to get better. I can't tell you which one worked - just that over time, I could sit in a plane without nearly fainting and walk to the (near) edge of a mountain path without thinking I would somehow be lifted over the rim and catapulted into the valley below.

I still don't adore flying, but I no longer horrify my fellow passengers with my abject terror. And I can walk the Alps again - as long as I don't get too close to the mountains' edge. Not perfect, but bearable.

I'm not scared anymore!

How did I do it?

The first thing I tried was traditional therapy. I thought something must have happened, buried deep in my subconscious, that provoked these travel phobias so I signed up for a series of sessions with a therapist to deal with my fear of heights. Unfortunately, we were unable to unearth the source of my anxiety.

Significantly more successful was hypnotherapy, which uses hypnosis to relax you deeply. After a few sessions, I was taught how to relax myself and would do my exercises before walking at altitude. It really did help minimize the fear, converting it from terror-level to merely very afraid.

I finally found a solution, most unexpectedly, that dealt with both flying and heights. My partner was at the time practising EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique, which you can learn for free online. All you do is tap lightly on your face and say some words (I'm obviously oversimplifying!) and if you do this regularly enough, those travel phobias will disappear. I still don't adore flying and heights, but I'm no longer immobilized.

Most important, I didn't let it stop me from my love of travel and I was proactive as soon as I realized I had a problem.

The worst thing you can do is to keep pushing forward while ignoring a travel phobia, or thinking they'll simply disappear. They won't.

The techniques I tried may not be for you, and there are many others. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Yoga, for serenity and relaxation
  • Self-help books - there are plenty of books, CDs and courses to help you through different levels of anxiety
  • Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP, a language-based type of psychotherapy

To get more information on EFT, visit Emotional Freedom Technique, where you can practice EFT with its creator, Gary Craig, for free. A good site for those of you saddled with a fear of flying is Flying Without Fear.

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