JoGuru uncovers some of the strangest travel phobias and how to deal with them

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Although travel sounds all fun and exciting, many find it challenging and fear to the core, but imagine if people had a phobia that could literally stop them in their tracks. JoGuru brings some unusual travel phobias that exists and also gives tips on how to deal with them.


Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.

Hodophobia (fear of road travel), pteromerhanophobia (fear of air travel), anthropophobia ( fear of people), siderodromopobia (fear of train travel) – these are all very commonly dealt with fears whenever the idea of travelling crops up. There are tonnes and tonnes of material out there about how to deal with them, using techniques that involve breathing, comfort visualisation, repetition etc. But then there are some strange fears that absolutely no one expects, fears that crop up at ridiculous times, fears so bizarre that no one other than the sufferer can take them seriously.

But they’re real and they’re just as bad as any other crippling paranoia that needs to be sympathised with. Read on how JoGuru reveals some of the most irrational fears that can hit a traveller, and how to deal with them.


Jane is never too far away from her mobile phone. Her many Whatsapp groups, news feed, and Instagram buddies are almost as important to her as her next meal. But here she is, in the middle of the Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, and she’s terrified! No matter how much she runs or jumps around, waving her cell phone in the air, there’s not a single bar of reception to be found!

Nomophobia or the fear of losing mobile phone connectivity is actually quite massive – up to 50% of all mobile phone users might suffer from it – and its intensity is actually popularly compared to trips to the dentist. The anxiety is called a form of comfort-object-separation anxiety, identical to a child’s upset if separated by a teddy bear.

The treatment for it is much the same – constant desensitisation. Forced removal or a period when the handset is turned off can help break that anxiety. Still, it’s best not to be caught frantic-without-signal while travelling. So, it’s a smart idea to carry your contacts in a little black book, carry a battery pack and also an emergency backup phone.


Jane follows a life philosophy of facing fears directly. It doesn’t matter what she’s scared of – she’ll take that panic head on and beat it to submission through sheer will. But looking at her tense face, thin lips and clenched jaw as she crosses the Golden Gate, no one will guess that she’s terrified of bridges.

Gephyrophobia is an irrational fear of bridges and its sufferers will go far out of their way to avoid traversing bridges of any kind at all – some time taking routes miles and miles out of the way just to avoid that scary span of nothingness.

No fear! (pun intended). Like other phobias, this one can be handles quite effectively with the right combination of therapy, hypnosis and unlearning the fear triggers.


John is the kind of guy who’ll climb to a high place, and look on condescendingly/pityingly at others who’re too scared to follow him to the edge because heights freak them out! That’s why when John starts losing his mind halfway across a precarious rope bridge a hundred feet off the ground, people figure he’s finally being human… but they’d be wrong.

John isn’t worried about the fall that’ll make him go splat – he’s terrified of the wind!

No one is born with Ancraophobia – fear of drafts and wind. The fear usually develops out of a traumatic wind related experience in childhood. That memory is usually suppressed – and people can go for years with that dormant anxiety festering in their minds, till it violently bursts out years later. It’s easily manageable though – behavioural therapy, anxiety medication and desensitisation through exposure are quite effective treatments.


Jack always wanted to visit Japan. That country had held an incredible sway over his imagination every since he could remember – its romantically feudal history in stark contrast to its uber-modern and media saturated present! And now he was actually standing on Japanese soil!


In an instant he’s confused, and confusion is quickly followed by disorientation, then fear. Everywhere he turns, everyone is speaking in that menacing rapidity; everywhere he looks, those indecipherable characters glare out from gaudy signs.

Jack hasxenoglossophobia – a fear of languages that revolves around anxiety about misinterpretation and social gaffe (scientifically known as communication apprehension, test anxiety and fear of negative evaluation). It usually develops over time (usually in a classroom) but onset can be sudden too.

Dealing with it is simple and is mostly about acceptance. Tourists are expected to mess up the local lingo, so it’s no big deal. Being thorough with a few popular phrases (directions, names, water, pleasantries) will usually get you through any place. And with access to Google Translator through a smart phone, there’s simply no need to worry.

Managing travels fears is a big deal – and that’s usually enough to deter most people from stepping anywhere out of their comfort zones. It’s a pity, because so many of these fears are thoroughly manageable. After all, overcoming travel fears requires a mental attitude very conducive to travel itself – a sense of adventure! Mark Twain has said it right when he says “Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.”

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Praveen Kumar
since: 07/2012
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