When You’re Claustrophobic the Eurostar Train Underwater Can Be Scary, But Take It Anyway Because It’s a Cool Experience

Can you guess what THIS traveler’s idea of absolute HELL is?  Being in an elevator!  Why? Because I’m claustrophobic and I absolutely HATE enclosed spaces!  And that’s any kind of enclosed space…including TRAINS.

But, elevators are my number one nemesis.  I will do anything in my power to avoid them.  And if that means climbing 20 flights of stairs with an oxygen tank on my back—then let’s go!

And for some reason, we always pick the Airbnbs with the smallest, slowest, most ancient elevators in the world.

You know the ones, where the door shuts and nothing happens for like 10 minutes (okay its probably 10 secs) and when it finally starts moving–you swear there is a monk on the other end with a rope, pulling it up with his bare hands?

As I said, it’s not just elevators that freak me out,  it’s all enclosed spaces where I can’t control the ‘OPEN DOOR‘ button.  You know like in a train or a subway, an airplane, the haunted mansion at Disneyland–places like that.

I know what you’re thinking, “I bet that makes traveling pretty tough”.  As a matter of fact, it does.

So until 2016, claustrophobia pretty much kept me from traveling.  Once we retired, I realized what a silly reason not to see the world and simply decided ‘I’m over it’.   Nope, no ‘come to JESUS’ moment, no earth-shattering dream with angelic music, no Tarot card reading…I was just done.

Slowly, I started taking elevators with headphones on, getting in subways with very loud soothing music— basically keeping my mind distracted.  Now, 25 countries later claustrophobia hasn’t stopped me from doing anything I’ve wanted to do while traveling.  No, I am not cured– I have just learned to work around it.

BUT–I still had one HUGE fear to conquer on my CLAUSTROPHOBIA bucket list–that was the Eurostar from France to London which is a train that goes underwater!

Why is it claustrophobic and scary? Oh please…look at this picture!!  Everyone is stranded in this teeny weeny, itsy bitsy tunnel in the water, my absolute nightmare!  Holy moly, they are all packed in like sardines with nowhere to go.  I realize that’s a once in a lifetime issue, but phobias are never rational.

But I am tough and decided I had to do it– and for all my fellow CLAUSTROPHOBICS it was pretty easy.  What I have learned over the years with claustrophobia is the fear of the unknown is your worst enemy.

So here are a few important details of my journey that I hope will help you.


First A Brief Word On PHOBIAS

Claustrophobia is a fear of tight or enclosed spaces.  It’s one of the most common phobias in the world and people can and do recover from it.  That’s it, if you need any other info, click the links. Let’s move on.

And since this post isn’t about phobias or why you have them or blah, blah, blah—I’m just going to drop a quick blurb here:

According to Healthline:

“A phobia is an irrational fear of something that’s unlikely to cause harm. The word itself comes from the Greek word phobos, which means fear or horror.

Hydrophobia, for example, literally translates to fear of water.

When someone has a phobia, they experience intense fear of a certain object or situation. Phobias are different than regular fears because they cause significant distress, possibly interfering with life at home, work, or school.

People with phobias actively avoid the phobic object or situation, or endure it within intense fear or anxiety”



What Is The Chunnel?

Also, a brief snippet of the train going into the channel tunnel.

Eurostar Chunnel

In addition to this post not being about phobias, it’s also not about the history of the channel tunnel either.  Obviously, you came here because you are claustrophobic and want to ride the train.  If you’re looking for Eurostar info click the link above.

Spread Out!

The first tip and at the risk of sounding ‘bougie‘ get a first-class seat if you can swing it!  Relax unafraid people…I am talking purely to the claustrophobics here.

So hear me out my friends, you’re claustrophobic going into an enclosed machine–then taking that tight contraption and diving underwater— the last thing your anxiety needs is to be squooshed in your seat like a sardine.  You want to spread out a bit because it gives you room to ‘breathe’.  Your claustrophobia will thank me.


Pre-Tunnel Particulars

Like I said earlier it wasn’t bad at all and looking back I wasted lots of time and energy fretting over it.  Look how calm I look…hahaha with my big as saucer eyeballs!

(via Instagram)

Now to the nitty-gritty.  Here are the details of the journey that I think are important to us ‘tight spacer’ peeps–hopefully it will ease your mind a little.

We started from Brussels on train #ES9153.  The train ride from Brussels until the channel tunnel is very pleasant maybe an hour at the most and you can see out the window the entire time! Definitely use this time to relax and get in the zone.

Now distraction is very important to me so I wear Bose noise-canceling headphones the entire time (affiliate link).  I also have a special Celtic relaxation playlist I made (here).

It also helped that there was some kind of meal service–I can’t even remember what it was.  If nothing else it kept my mind off the pending ‘deep dive’.



Taking The Plunge

I am not trying to scare you or make fun of you because I was definitely not this ‘badass’ on the train.  I was actually pretty nervous.  And I know when others acknowledge how you feel, even as irrational as it may seem– it still makes you feel better.  So I am here for you and I completely understand it.

Here are the particulars I remember:

  • I think you hear some kind of overhead announcement saying you are going into the channel tunnel.
  • It will be dark outside, the train inside is fully lit and bright
  • All you will see out of the windows is the tunnel walls (like on a subway)
  • It feels cooler on the train when under the water
  • Your ears will feel a little different, like ‘full’ (probably because you are about 300 feet below sea level).
  • The estimated total time in the channel tunnel is only about 20 minutes!
  • It actually goes very quick, I was shocked how quick it was.



I Did It and So Can You!

I think I lost 10 years worrying about the whole ordeal.  Doesn’t matter– a big pat on the back to me for stepping outside of my comfort zone.  And to be perfectly honest that wasn’t a step it was a humungous LEAP,  like a Jolly Green Giant leap.

So here’s to you (raising a glass) my dear claustrophobic friend– go forth and conquer the Eurostar Train via the English Channel!  I know you can do it!  Think of it in small increments–and the tunnel is only 20 minutes of the whole journey.




Mike and Donna have been slowly and blissfully exploring the world since 2017. Slow Travel has changed their lives forever. They will never go back to that fast-paced travel lifestyle again. Not only do they practice slow travel but also slow living. Leave a comment! They would love to hear from you….

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