Hodophobia: It's a Thing!

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Hodophobia: It's a Thing!


It's actually a thing!

"Don't be daft, we'll have a great time!"

"Just leave Dad alone for a bit, he'll be fine once we're there!"

"Now you're just being bloody stupid, there's still a week before we go!"

I have always had a love / hate relationship with travel which has driven my family mad over the years.

I love seeing new places, doing new things, eating new food and taking thousands of holiday snaps to remember what a fantastic time we've had over the years.

The 'hate' side is a little more complex. I love planes, don't have the slightest trouble with flying or heights. Love road trips, bike, car, bus, train, no problems. Boats are a bit trickier, but I'll get into that.

It seems I have a form of travel anxiety, Freud had it too, called it 'Reiseangst' - fear of travel, many other people share this irrational fear of travel.

I grew up thinking I was just a bit of a wimp, fearing to put myself out there and see the world...turns out I have a phobia. It's real, honest! Hodophobia actually exists, it's not just me being grumpy about holidays!

So much so, it's now classed as a Mental Illness in DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Admittedly I have a very mild form of hodophobia. For me it begins about a week before I travel. A general feeling of anxiety, nausea and, just feeling, well...awful. Imagine having a hangover for a week without actually drinking anything. No appetite, feel permanently dizzy and sick, and also very very grumpy.

Once we're on the way, on the plane, on the road etc, I'm fine, (ok, I'm still naturally grumpy), the anxiety just disappears.

Relief for the family who try desperately not to think of the return journey!

Over the years things have improved. Gone are the days when I had to drink myself stupid before going abroad, or munch my way through boxes of travel sickness tablets (neither of which helps by the way, so don't try that at home).

Facing my fears has been the only way for me.

Note: Sea travel is a totally different matter. I love ships, boats, canoes, pedalos, and jet skis. Love swimming. Hate and fear deep dark water.

I also suffer from thalassophobia. (Not recognized in DSM-5 as Mental Illness but classified as an anxiety disorder).

I just don't like any body of water where I can't see what's under me!

I've tried sea travel (hated most of it once out of the shallows).

I've tried snorkelling and reef diving (loved it until I saw the drop off point).

Thank you Peter Benchley! (Probably?)

So I still try to avoid sea travel unless there's a very very big carrot attached (usually a motorbike shaped carrot!)

My wife's been a natural in doling out heaps of aversion therapy, she's always had itchy, globetrotting, feet. I'll see somewhere on telly, "Wow, that looks stunning love!" translates to her as 'I'd love to go there, but I don't want to ruin another holiday'.

Tickets booked, we're going! I must admit, this approach has helped massively, things have gotten much better the last few decades.

Some sufferers have it much worse. There are cases that hinge on distance from home,(often confused with Agoraphobia), an invisible barrier of dread stops these folks from travelling any distance at all. For others it's the mode of transport (often misdiagnosed as fear of flying etc), others have a fear of the unknown, be it food, language or customs in foreign places (xenophobia is also often mooted).

So if you have someone who is not scared of leaving the house, loves flying, and plunges themselves into all things foreign, but still dreads travelling…..hmmmm….. maybe you're living with a hodophobic?

Be nice, it is a 'thing', and they really, really, can't help being a misery!

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