Traveling is not something most people are comfortable with. Even the most experienced of travelers get butterflies. But that's what makes it so exciting! Life begins on the edge of your comfort zone. If you don't try, you'll never know what the world has in store for you. The trick is being able to get those butterflies to fly in formation. Once you harness the energy, you can channel it to plan a pretty amazing experience.
There are three keys to overcoming nerves whether its about traveling solo, visiting a new country, or even taking a plane for the
1. Educate yourself
I can't stress enough how important it is to learn as much as you can before you hop on a plane somewhere. Luckily for you, you are already one step a head in this matter-- you found my blog didn't you?
Spend time reading, watching, and preparing before your trip so you have at least an inkling of what you are getting yourself into. What are the busy times for famous sites? What are the customs or local expectations of their visitors? How early should you show up to the airport? If you are going through something that you don't know how to handle, consult various forums and blogs. I have learned so much just by seeing what others are asking about. For Solo Female Backpackers, I highly recommend joining The Solo Female Traveler Network or GoWonder on Facebook. It's been a source of inspiration and comfort for many chicas crisscrossing the globe.
2. Make nerves a strength
Maintaining a set of nerves helps keep you sharp and aware while traveling. We have all heard horror stories while traveling of theft, strangers, or a general lack of security in some countries. What I have found as a solo backpacker is even the most advanced of places has its questionable figures and potential for unsafe circumstances. But just as unsafe is it "could" be, it can be just as eye opening and beautiful. Don't let reputation restrict you from exploring the places you have always desired. Instead channel the nerves to keep you alert of your surroundings. Trusting my gut has kept me out of scary situations and also opened me up to meeting some amazing people.
In Russia, I decided to take the 15+ hour overnight train from Moscow to Samara. Many blogs and reviews spoke of theft however it was far most cost efficient and a traditional way of transportation in Russia. I wanted the experience despite the sentiment. I didn't speak any Russian and was certainly on my guard. By the end, I had shared vodka and food with a couple of Russians and a few other travelers, learned their stories, and made memories that I would not have gotten in any other circumstance. Trusting can be a fine line to walk, especially in a foreign environment. But if you take a first step to getting to know the people around you by extending a hand they may open up and trust you in return. Taking calculated risks will make you feel more comfortable about your security, and enjoy the overall experience!
3. Keep your expectations realistic and share your plan
I used to think telling my parents where I was going, who I was with, and when I would be back was just them trying to annoy their teenage daughter. Now I realize that it was just good security measures as I jumped into adulthood. I often travel by myself or with a friend, and I'm sure my parents are more nervous than I. But if you are a nervous traveler, telling your plan to a family member or friend back home will help in case something goes wrong. Additionally, in a way, sending updates gives you a moment to reflect mid travels that things are actually ok. Regularly I see fellow travelers focusing so much on the negatives that it overshadows the positives. Checking in at least once with someone back home forces you to recognize that even if things are not what you expected, you are still alive and well. Trust me - things will not be perfect, things will not go according to plan. If I had a plane ticket for every time I've been stuck in an airport, every time I misconnected, or felt awkward taking myself to dinner (more on that later), I could fly around the world... twice.