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Fear of Travel: A Guide for the Anxious Traveler to Greece

What would you say about someone who writes about travel for a living, flies to and from Europe several times a year and still suffers from anxiety up to the moment he begins his journey? You would probably say he is completely normal.

Matt in-flight

That's what I would call him because that is me. If you are reading this it is probably because you have some anxiety about travel too and I assure you that you are normal as well. Otherwise there are a whole lot of us who are crazy. For me it begins with the booking of the tickets. "Matt", my wife Andrea says to me. "Can you book our tickets for Greece?"
"OK" I say in a voice not loud enough to be heard and a feeling that it is time to commit myself, not to an institution but to the physical act of finding and buying airline tickets to Greece. My first step is to send an e-mail or an Instant Message to my brother David at with my dates and what hoops I will or will not jump through to get a better deal. No eight hour-layovers. No overnight stays unless it is in an interesting place with enough time to enjoy it like a couple nights in Paris. A two flight minimum each way is another.

Then having done my job I wait for his reply. From the moment I have done this I am second guessing myself. Why am I going to Greece? Why am I leaving North Carolina? I am happy here. (Not really but as soon as it is time for me to leave anywhere I discover that I love the place I complain about every day). What will I do in Greece? More nights of eating and drinking with my friends? What good can come of this? I should stay home and meditate or become a good public citizen (or go into therapy).

David comes back with some flight options to go along with some of the other options I have found on the net. In a heroic moment I say "OK. Book it". I then go and tell Andrea we are booked for such and such a date and she discovers a reason why those dates are bad or says "What!? I told you I would never fly that airline again!" and I say "Well that is too bad because that is who we have all our frequent flyer miles with."

For the next few weeks I am on an emotional roller-coaster of which I am now an expert.

During this period I will feel the excitement of traveling to Greece as I read e-mails from travelers who tell me their itineraries and the envy I feel becomes a sense that soon I will be in Greece doing these things that they are so enthused about doing. Then there are moments when I will be laying in bed anxiety-ridden. So what is the deal? How can I go from having the excitement a child has on Christmas to the feeling that a condemned prisoner has on his way to the gallows?

Fear of change. My boring little world which has enveloped me like a cocoon to the point of suffocation suddenly feels like home and leaving it makes me feel like Orpheus on his way to the underworld even though I am going to Greece, a land of sun, light, beauty, history, romance, passion and great food. Everything my little town lacks.

As the day of departure grows closer it takes courage (and frequent doses of kava kava) to keep me from obsessing on the trip or falling to my knees and begging Andrea to please not make me go. Her father lives there so she does not go through the same psychological trauma that I do. But she is also anxiety-prone because of her need to have everything packed and ready and everything done that needs to be done around the house. I can pack in an hour for a three month trip to Greece. But then I would come home and find out all the animals had starved, all the plants had died and all the food I had left in the refrigerator had crawled out and taken over the kitchen. So it is Andrea's 'attention to detail' that enables us to leave and return to a home that is the way we left it. The animals have been taken care of, the plants have been watered and the fridge has been cleaned before we left instead of after. It is her vigilance that keeps her busy making sure all the pieces of the leaving-puzzle are in place which enables me to be free to deal with my anxiety in a way that causes myself more anxiety. I am suddenly surrounded by meaning. The cat who could not give a damn about me just as long as I feed him is my friend. The guinea pigs who pee on me every time Andrea sits them on my lap while I am watching a game are my soul mates. Taking out the garbage on Wednesday night is no longer a chore but a tradition. My mind is causing me great suffering in its efforts to keep me from going and leaving this comfortable (but boring) planet.

Then something magical happens. We walk put the door of the house and get in the taxi and all the anxiety disappears. I will say it again in another way. As soon as I leave the house I am no longer afraid to leave the house, or the country, or the hemisphere. Once the adventure begins I am in it. I am part of the adventure and excited about it. Yes I am still a little agitated at the airport, standing in line and going through the ticket ordeal but once that is over and I am free of baggage (except carry-on) it is like another level of awakening and I feel a sense of freedom that I don't feel in small-town USA.

So if you are traveling and feeling anxiety remember this. The hardest part of going is thinking about it. Once you are on your way and the journey has begun, all the fears and reasons for not going fade into the background. And even for me, having done this a hundred times, when the sun comes up and I look out the window and we are flying over the Adriatic and the island of Corfu and the mountains of Ipirus come into view and we pass over Nafplion on a beautiful sunny Mediterranean day I say to myself "I am never going back to Carrboro."


Don't under estimate the peace of mind one has when he knows there is someone waiting at the airport to take them to their hotel and basically all you have to do is get your passport stamped, pick up your bags and enter the main terminal and find him, which is pretty easy if you know how to read and can recognize your own name on a sign. For this reason I always use a taxi transfer, either booking directly with George the Famous Taxi Driver, or through a Greek travel agency. For those people who have booked hotels, ferries and tours through an agency your trip to and from the airport is part of the package. For those who have booked hotels and ferries on their own you will need to do this on your own. I think it is worth it. The cost is between 55 and 65 euros depending on where you are going.

Help Support Matt's Greece Travel Guides 
Do you enjoy using my site? Have you found it entertaining as well as useful? If so please show your appreciation by booking hotels through the travel agencies and the links found on my Greek Travel Agents Page. The small comission I make on the bookings enable me to keep working and in most cases you won't find them any cheaper by searching elsewhere. You can also book at's Greece Pages and they give me a small percentage on each booking.

More about Flights to Greece (Index)