Dreams of travel and transportation come in all shapes and sizes. The most common symbols include cars, airplanes and trains, and they’re usually accompanied with feelings of anxiety, confusion, fear, regret, or disappointment.
In Freudian analysis, the latent content in car dreams are related to sexuality because the motion or the movement of a dream journey represents a wish for sexual intercourse. I don’t usually give importance to Freudian analysis in dreamwork, but this time it really caught my attention. A wish for sexual intercourse is nothing more than a thirst for satisfaction, isn’t it? We’re talking about a visceral quest for power, manifestation, or purpose.
But this is all scratching the surface, of course. I find that dreams of travel and transportation are at the center of every dream because this is an archetype that tells the story that develops in the dream through its core energy of movement and control.
Destiny vs. Destination
Let’s talk about divinity and free will for a moment. Dreams of travel and transportation come up when there’s a need to break through a polarized view of control vs. being controlled. Oftentimes, the dreamer is experiencing an emotional journey in which they feel that they are either being guided to (by divinity), or have decided to be (by their own free will) somewhere in life.
This brings up a common dilemma of destiny and divine intervention vs. free will, or what some like to call the Law of Attraction. A dreamer who has been experiencing this dream theme in a recurring fashion is, in my opinion, very concerned with his or her purpose in life and how to make life decisions that make sense to them spiritually, logically, and emotionally all at once.
Whether there is metaphorical movement in the dreamer’s life is not even a question. Life is always in constant movement. The problem is when we become fixated on the symbols, expecting the interpretation to point out what or who is moving, instead of focusing on what the dream is actually telling us to do: Watch our own movements.
You may be walking, running, riding a bicycle, on a motorcycle, on a car, in a plane, on a boat, on a train, on a bus, or even flying by yourself in the air, but rest assured that yes, a movement is happening. Right now, you are being asked to focus on the journey – Not the destiny or the destination.
Journeys and Crossroads
I like to group the dream symbols related to the travel & transportation theme into three basic categories:
Transport symbols include any kind of vehicle, form of travel, or movement. Each symbol tells its own story, and can represent the dreamer’s sense of personal power. Cars may speak about a person’s drive, a bicycle may offer a message about finding balance, a boat might point out the dreamer’s ability to navigate a situation, a horse may speak about the dreamer’s instincts, and a private plane may be illustrating the dreamer’s perspective. Running and flying may also be included here, but because this form of movement relies heavily on the body, the subject matter of health and mental health has to be taken into consideration.
Collective transport such as airplanes, buses, ships, and trains will amplify these comparisons and place them in a collective context. The dream is no longer about personal power, but of a shared power of movement. Or perhaps the dreamer has lost their sense of personal power in favor of a larger group’s power to move forward.
The matter of cargo also comes into play, particularly when it comes to powerhouse collective symbols like railroad trains, or a massive spaceship.
Being stuck at a crossroads happens quite often in dreams, but they are not immediately related to transportation because of the emotions that these dreams tend to evoke. Crossroads include train stations, bus stations, airports, docks, the subway, and parking lots. It is quite common for a dream involving a crossroads to present feelings of being late or being lost. Quite immediately, the dreamer might feel a sense of loss of control when they can’t find the car in the parking lot, or that they’ve missed their flight, or sitting in the wrong train. These dreams can be disturbing, and the more predisposed the dreamer is to feel anxiety, the higher the likelihood of this dream becoming a nightmare.
Direction can be found in pathways, roads, railroads, airstrips, and even long hallways or rivers. The direction can also be felt, as the dreamer can feel a sense of knowing where they are headed, or where they should be headed. The direction can sometimes be thwarted by an impending accident. It’s not uncommon to observe an airplane crash from a distance or experience a trainwreck in a dream
Rather than a premonition of an impending catastrophe, this particular scenario could tell the story of a dreamer that is experiencing a complete loss of control over a situation.
Are You a Victim of Circumstance?
The travel and transportation dream theme carries a very powerful energy that can be difficult to grasp and integrate. Willing or unwilling, the changes involved in leaving something behind in life in order to approach something different can leave a profound impact on a person’s emotional development. In these dreams, the intra-psychic developments of power, decision, and the constant battle against circumstance (eg. flight delays, schedule changes, traffic) come together to illustrate your current experience, and remind you to reclaim your power to move forward.
As with all dreamwork, important questions need to be asked when it comes to this powerful dream theme:
- How are you moving forward in your life right now?
- What’s the goal or destination?
- What is blocking or preventing you from moving forward?
- What is your journey looking like and what do you expect to find when you arrive at your destination?
- Is there something you are unsatisfied with?
- How are you going about that?
- What situations, ideas, or emotions are you transporting from one realm of your life to another?
Until you get to the core of your unsatisfaction, you will continue to travel in search for a metaphorical home.