*With apologies to actual chickens, who are fierce creatures you wouldn’t want to fuck with.
I am a Nervous Nelly. I am jumpy and skitchy and afraid of my own shadow. I worry about everything and nothing, at the same time. I am a chicken shit. And that’s OK. I just have an over-active nervous system.
But I’ve never really let that stop me! Even through the scariest of situations I somehow manage to push,pull,force,drag,stomp,dance,think,feel my way through to the other side. I may do it biting my nails,twirling my hair , breathing hard and laughing nervously the WHOLE time, but I DO it.
And if you are all of these things ( or some of these things) you can too.
Travel was a big scary deal to me, back in the day, but through that experience I learned a thing or two that made my trip easier and less terrifying and I’d like to share some of that here with you!
- Research the fuck out of your destination! And the airports you’ll be passing through. And their procedures. And the hotel you’ll be staying at. And how you’ll be getting around. And the streets you’ll be walking on. Google street view is your friend. Once you’re done and you think there is nothing left to learn, go back and do it again. Not only does this keep your monkey mind engaged and occupied, it also arms you with knowledge. Knowledge is power! After a time, you’ll develop a mental map of all the places you’ll be spending time in and this will help you feel safe. It will give you confidence. These places wont seem so new and scary anymore.
- Accept that even with all this planning, some plans will still go awry. The hotel might be just awful, the airport transfer may never show up. You might lose your wallet-or tuck your passport into you bra in a nervous moment then think it lost and panic!-What are you going to do if things don’t go as planned? Do you have a way to help yourself? Think about this and then arm yourself as such. I make sure I have a phone that works, all the phone numbers I need in hard copy and digital, access to extra funds and most importantly, I remember to pause and breathe. meditation is my best tool. It keeps me calm, and allows time and space for clear rationality. ( I eventually found my passport after going back to security and asking the agent if she’d seen it. She helped me go through my entire bag,chatting away with me the whole time, looking directly at me. I brushed my hair out of my face and found my passport sticking out of my shirt. I laughed and laughed and laughed! We both felt like morons but it was hilarious. She the professional, trained to NOTICE THINGS and me, so panicked I didn’t even feel a foreign object touching my own body. This is why I mediate!)
- If you are travelling alone and feel scared about that, book a trip with a group. There are a ton of good options out there, co-ed, women only..whatever floats your boat. This is a good option because you’ll be with other humans and the leaders of these other humans will have arranged most of the scary things for you and the rest of the group! You can just go with the flow. My trip to Peru was with a women’s only adventure group. I made friends and felt safe while still feeling like a bit of a badass. I’m going to Tanzania with the same company and find myself branching out a bit more on my own this time. Soon, I’ll be backpacking through India solo.
- If English is not the primary language spoken in the area to which you will be travelling to, learn the basics in the language that is. Again with the knowedeege=power thing. Even just a little bit of understanding is helpful. Plus you’ll gain the respect and admiration of the people you encounter if you at least try. They wont expect perfection-and neither should you!-but you;ll be amazed at how quickly you pick up on things once you’re there and the little bit you do know will go a long way. Bonus, your mistakes may or may not be hilarious and may or may not give you a funny story to tell when you return home.
- Pack light. This is not the time to be lugging around a full suitcase, carry on and a purse or computer bag. What a gigantic pain in the ass to carry around all that crap, not only that, it just adds to the anxiety. You;ll worry about it! The airline may lose your stuff and you’ll definitely worry about that! Try travelling with just carry on. Google “packing light” and “ultra light” and enjoy a vast resource of ideas and tips and tricks that will help you. I travelled to Peru with just a carry-on and aim to travel to and through Tanzania with even less.
- Don’t spend too much time reading those “Is-insert your destination-safe? ” threads on travel forums. You’ll only add to your anxiety and really, they are useless. Good and bad things happen in this world. ALl over the place. To all sorts of people. I really believe trying to assess risk in normal places, where the average person goes is pointless. The dangers are the same everywhere, in many of the same ways. I went to Peru and was told it was a country “not for the faint of heart” . I was expecting to be mugged, car jacked, raped, kidnapped, scammed, and blah blah blah all the rest of it. Was I? No. I was treated kindly by most everyone I met and only had one incident that might have been considered scary. I wasn’t scared though, I was angry! (And I took care of it nicely and there was no harm done because I have skills and I used them) I mean, I walked around back alleys by myself unmolested! I’m not suggesting you take unnecessary risks or throw caution and good sense to the wind, but I am saying, don’t get yourself all worked up on the hype. You know how to keep yourself safe, as a human in this world. Trust in that and don’t worry about the what ifs.
- Let go. Try to relax into the unknown. Accept that you feel what you feel in the given moment and allow it to be what it is. It’s perfectly ok to feel the way you do. Many people do! You are not alone, and you are not a freak. You are a normal human being with a highly sensitive nervous system. Be kind to yourself. The world needs us types.
- Know that you are brave! If you’re planning to travel anyway you should know that makes you courageous in the first place. So many people want to go and don’t, for so many different reasons. But not you, no way. You’re going! And that’s awesome! You are lion-hearted ! Remember this.
So my friends, how do you feel? Are you ready to live out your travel dreams? I must warn you: travelling is highly addictive! You may find yourself neglecting other parts of your life. (A new roof? We don’t need no stinking new roof! )I’ve already got my eye on another trip…Spain this time. With the husband of all people. ( A human more afraid of travel than I) He told me this morning that what I did while he was at work was none of his business…ha ha..Im a grown woman who can make my own decisions…I think he’s addicted to travel too!