Tripophobia: The unsettling fear of unbooked holidays

ByAndrea Thompson

July 10, 2024

In a time when wanderlust fuels our aspirations and Instagram overflows with snapshots of distant places, a distinct type of anxiety arises: tripophobia.

This term, created by passionate travellers, describes the unease experienced when one’s calendar lacks the eagerly anticipated “holiday”!

The Symptoms

  1. Restless Mind: Tripophobes constantly browse travel websites, scrolling through flight deals and hotel discounts. Their minds race with visions of turquoise waters, bustling markets, and snow-capped peaks. Yet, their calendars remain stubbornly empty.
  2. Social Media Envy: Instagram becomes a double-edged sword. While they admire others’ travel escapades, each post stings like a missed opportunity and FOMO gnaws.
  3. Existential Dread: Tripophobia isn’t just about vacations; it’s existential. Unbooked holidays symbolize unfulfilled dreams, wasted time, and the relentless fear that “Life is slipping away.”

Causes and Triggers

  1. Peer Pressure: Friends flaunting their Bali sunsets or Swiss Alps selfies can trigger tripophobia. The fear of being left behind propels them to search for flights—even if it’s just a weekend getaway to the neighbouring town.
  2. Bucket Lists and Regrets: The unchecked items on their bucket lists haunt them. “I should have seen the Northern Lights by now,”. The fear of regret drives them to Google “cheap flights to Iceland.”
  3. The Paradox of Choice: Too many options paralyze them. Should they explore ancient ruins in Greece or sip wine in Tuscany? The fear of making the wrong choice keeps them indecisive.

Coping Mechanisms

  1. Spontaneous Bookings: Tripophobes occasionally break free. They impulsively book a last-minute flight, fuelled by adrenaline and a desire to conquer their fear. The rush of anticipation soothes their anxious souls.
  2. Virtual Escapes: They immerse themselves in travel blogs, documentaries, and virtual reality experiences. It’s a bittersweet escape—a way to taste adventure without leaving their couch.
  3. Planning Overload: Armed with spreadsheets and travel apps, they meticulously plan imaginary trips. Research becomes their therapy. They know every detail about the Taj Mahal, even though they’ve never set foot there.


Tripophobia reminds us that wanderlust isn’t just about ticking off destinations. It’s about embracing the unknown, savouring the journey, and collecting memories like seashells on a beach. So, if your calendar remains blank, fear not. The world awaits, and your next adventure is just a click away.