Jenny was one of my valued clients. Because I was going on holidays I called Jenny to let her know so she was well informed in case of an emergency and knew exactly who to contact in my absence.
“Where are you going, Rajiv?” Jenny asked upon my informing.
“I am off to Europe, Jenny” I said enthusiastically.
“I could never fly to Europe” Jenny said in a disgruntled tone.
“I know it’s a long flight Jenny, but what can you do? I said in a more convincing voice.
“Oh no, no, no… it’s not about the distance, I would not fly even inter-state here in Australia. I am too scared to fly in an aeroplane.” Jenny opened up.
You see, as much traveling is a pleasure for most of us, it can be a fearful experience for many. A conversation with Jenny made me think about fear of flying – Hodofobia.
But before we look into Hodofobia what is fear in general?
Fear is just an emotion created by our mind, an impulse transmitted to our brain by the conscious mind. Fear is always about the future. Human mind has a tremendous power called “imagination” using which we can either create positive vibrations or negative ones. Worrying about future events is another form of fear, most of which never materialise. It is entirely upon us whether we want to imagine bright colourful future events or ugly nightmares. World famous author Robin Sharma says, “Fear is nothing more than a monster that you have created, a negative of consciousness. Fear is a conditioned response. However, people grow the most when they enter the zone of the unknown.” This is so true.
So, what do most people fear about when it comes to travel? There can be more but following are the common ones.
Fear of traveling in an aeroplane, cruise or boat
Fear about personal safety and security, and safety of valuables
Fear of traveling to new places
Fear for personal safety and security, and fear about safety of valuables are physical and tangible (so to say) but fears of traveling in an aeroplane or traveling to new places are purely associated with our mind.
I remember, two years ago when my wife and I traveled to Europe we carried our passports and other valuables on us all the time. Unfortunately, another family living on the upper floor in our hotel lost their valuables when they went out sight-seeing. When you are traveling to multiple countries you cannot afford to give any time for police investigations of such hotel thefts due to the constraint of time at each destination. If you are not 100% convinced about the safety of your valuables in a hotel, hang the “Do not disturb” sign outside the room door. This gives an impression that someone is in the room and can help avoiding such thefts.
Moving on, let’s now take a look at fear of traveling in an aeroplane (cruise, or boat), and fear of traveling to new places. Both these fears are fear of change and fear for unknown, which are quite mental. Such fears can get more intense with growing age. However, avoiding the wonderful and life changing travel experiences because of these fears is not worth it. Embracing fears is the only way we can overcome them.
Hodofobia – fear of traveling to new places or even the inability to leave your home makes life of people like Jenny extremely difficult. For such people performing usual travel tasks like checking baggage, going through immigration, customs, and security procedures, not losing temper in the event the flights get rescheduled or cancelled, and effective communication with airline and ground staff can be extremely challenging.
However, for those who suffer from Hodofobia but are passionate about traveling, I’ve got good news for you. Hodofobia can be managed quite easily and effectively simply by following a few techniques.
Rule of 5 P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. This probably is the most important technique that Hodofobic people can follow to reduce stress. Your itinerary is more important than your journey itself. Why? Because, it is the structured approach of an itinerary that makes your journey enjoyable. Personally, I invest a lot of time in proactive sowing (planning the journey) so I reap the rewards later. Driving conditions in New Zealand are the same as in Australia. When I visited New Zealand with my family the itinerary was worked out in such minute detail that I followed it blindly without any stress and thoroughly enjoyed the trip as a result of proper planning.
I just love the tremendously gushing speed at which the huge A-380 aircraft starts running before it takes off the ground. But boy, it was exactly the opposite a few years ago. Like many other people my stomach would touch my back due to fear, I would almost lose a heartbeat, and my mouth would get dry. What made the change then? By following certain spiritual practices (“Sadhanas”) I have learned to live in peace and in enjoy the present moment. In the past the air turbulence would stiffen my body and stir my stomach up. But I came to realise that if I don’t have any control over “road turbulence” how can I control air turbulence? Now I treat the air turbulence like the bumps in the road and let my body move with the movement of the aircraft. Within a few minutes I am fine again.
Drinking a lot of water while on the plane will keep you enough hydrated. Reading interesting books, talking to people on the plane, watching TV or listening to music can distract your mind from the unlikely unwanted situations created by your mind.
The unique power of visualization can be used quite effectively to overcome Hodofobia. Visualizing all events in advance, right from leaving home, going to the airport, checking in etc. till reaching your destination can strengthen your mind and prepare it for making things happen favorably for you.
Finally, knowing the rules and regulations, culture, people, and festivals of the country you are visiting makes your trip much enjoyable. Setting right expectations for your mind before your trip begins will not only reduce anxiety and stress levels, it will create a memorable experience for you. You will be able to connect with people very easily and have fun with them.