Being followed by unknown men. DONE.
Finding myself alone a in city crossed by a hurricane. DONE.
Getting lost and not finding my way to the hotel/hostel. DONE.
Be in a tube station evacuated (in time of terrorist attacks). DONE.
Facing aggressive verbal reactions after kindly but firmly refusing a drink. DONE.
I must say that, in my travelling years, I’ve faced an interesting number of weird situations that I wasn’t able to avoid but that I had to learn how to deal with. And that caused me some stress.
Well, for sure they are not at all the most difficult eventualities you can bump into while travelling solo!
I have a brillant photoreporter friend who recently told me about her experience in quite more serious and delicate situations in the complex countries she went to for very long periods and for work and, talking with her, all my trivial past accidents looked so childish!
But I’m not here to make a Top 10 list of the most dangerous and difficult situations you can live while travelling alone in a foreigner country.
I’m aware that there are so many situations that can stress me and not most of you and vice versa! I can be afraid of extreme weather conditions (something that I’m not used to) and some other girls can be traumatized by a dog following them. Someone has assisted to a crime event causing great shock and some other badass girl can walk alone in San Paulo slums with no fears, but be afraid of a particularly turbulent flight.
The question is, what should be done to overcome moments of fear and stress while travelling solo?
I know there is no single answer to this question, but I have my own ways to face fears and maybe they can be useful for some of you.
So I want to list them up here and wish you’ll tell me yours.
Keep calm and be wise. But how?
Being wise and keeping nerves control is one of the best answers.
Clap, clap Sabrina, very good point! But how can you be wise and calm when you are terrified?
Most of times fear is an ancestral uncontrolled reflex that has been helping our specie to survive in an unfriendly world. But nowadays fear is leading us to self destruction if not well managed.
When we are afraid we tend to see the problem bigger that it actually is. So a man harrassing us is seen as a potential raper, a hurrucane as an event that will kill us or take us away like it did with the little Dorothy etc.
There are small tricks to see the problems in a more detached and rational way, and that allowed me to be cool and not to act by pulse but by wit. And also not to ruin my whole travel.
Here we go with some of them.
Watch what other people do
When I was little girl my mom and dad always told me that I should not care what other people do. I followed wisely their suggestions all long my life (so that they’re not so happy about it anymore, maybe I’ve followed too much their advice). But when it comes to travel, you must reconsider many things.
When you are in trouble or in a personal panic situation, looking at other people acting in a comfortably normal way can be very helpful and relaxing.
When I was stuck in a 30th floor with no landline nor wi-fi in NYC after the hurricane Sandy, I found very useful looking out my window and watching into other people homes.
They cooked, drank wine, talked and just waited for the storm to pass.
Well, some company would have been very helpful for me too, in that moment. But my solitude was useful anyway. I was forced to overcome fear and… many other things I was living in that moment.
After Sandy… I think many things weren’t the same anymore in my life, but I won’t bother you with this story right now.
Talk to strangers
Loneliness can be a place for our panic to grow. If you are afraid of a particular event and feel in danger, talk with someone, when possibile. Not specifically about your problem, just talk about anything. Get in a pub and ask for a beer, smile to the waiter and ask which one is better.
Create occasions to exchange a couple of sentences with someone. Talking distracts you and relax and you won’t feel as lonely anymore. Moreover, in case of actual risk, you can ask for practical help.
Rely on other people
People are not strangers!
As far as my personal experience taught me, 98% people you’ll find along your way are good hearted and won’t leave you alone in case of need. Ask for support and you’ll be helped, no matter what the problem is.
The world is actually much better than we were told.
Put a happy soundtrack in your trip/life
Imagination can be so helpful! Have you ever seen a crime movie trailer edited with a happy soundtrack or just edited as if it was a comedy? Look at this re-edited Shining trailer and the you’ll get what I mean…
Why don’t you try to do the same with the difficulties of your trip and life in general? Try to listen to happy and inspiring music and your mood will change.
With me, it works.
Imagine you are a “Friends” character.
Keep on playing a comedy! Think about when you’ll tell your little disadventure to a friend, but in a funny way. What would you do and look like if you were a “Friends” character?
Don’t you think life would be better if we lived and acted like Phoebe?
What do you do to overcome weird and uncomfortable or scary and stressing situations while travelling? Write in comments!