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1. SIT travel anxiety: (full)



I suggest that all travelers suffer travel, anxiety to some degree. Travelers, both domestic and foreign, by definition, leave the comfortable, confident security of their home environment for something unfamiliar: different streets, rules, mannerisms, foods, clothing, etc. 

Foreign travelers, particularly SIT (solo independent travel)’s, confront even greater ‘travel anxiety’ because no tour company or cruise excursion company and has their back.

A foreign country’s culture can vary radically from USA and even more so, between different foreign countries. An American in Europe will feel more comfortable than in Asia because the American culture is a somewhat familiar mishmash of the European. 

    Anecdote: My Egypt Revolution:  I arrived at my Cairo, Egypt hotel on 1st day of Egypt’s “25 January Revolution” as tanks began rolling down the street below my hotel window. I was initially very anxious walking in Cairo’s tank-barricaded streets with soldiers everywhere; bearded men & hijab covered women, both in flowing robes.

PIK K7: revolution Walking its streets, I respectfully smiled, nodded slightly & uttered “As-salamu alaykum” (hello) to those who met my eyes. Women, I was particularly respectful toward for fear of somehow offending. Men responded naturally; women with a subtle gentle nod. 

One group of men seated on a stoop came unglued when in passing,  I politely said ‘As-salamu alaykum’ (hello), en masse they inviting me over to chat for several minutes.

After a few days, I realized my presence attracted very little notice presumably because I was just one of millions of foreign tourists who had traveled through Cairo. 

In Asia, the differences in a culture’s language, history, customs, etc. can be even more dramatic: China vs India vs Bali.

Ironically, it is EXACTLY this anxious uncertainty that’s an exciting solo independent travel benefit, not only testing you, but providing novel, rich experiences. OTOH, it is your knowledge, preparation, experience, character, and prudence that guides & protects you.

I hope my information & personal anecdotes from my experience will aid & protectyour journey.

    TIP: If truly wise, you always have a back door — an escape  strategy. to extricate yourself from a dicey situation.

    Anecdote: China’s Longi Rice Terraces: After a long hike up from 700 yr old Dazhai village across Longi’s rice terraces with few humans in sight…. at the very top, my path encountered an old road. I turned left away from the old road onto what seemed like my ‘continuing’ trail.

I hiked for ¾ mi before I realized I was NOT steadily descending the mountain to my hike’s end at Ping’an village below.

Fortunately, after years of hiking Utah’s deep confusing slot-like canyons I was always aware of my ‘back door” escape route; sometimes placing rocks in an arrow configuration to point the way back. In this case, I could just retrace my trail back to the old road.

Life & travel are very much a balance between danger perceived, & the travel knowledge & experience that reduces those risks.

    A. My Strategy: 

I combat these differing travel anxiety levels (call it what it is —fear) with exhaustive, detailed pre-trip research & planning melded into my detailed Personal Guidebook-like itinerary easily carried in paper form or on my cell phone for instant access.                                     

         1. Research: exposes issues & information critical to your travels: transportation kinds & schedules, available lodging, and location & directions to sites & experiences. Research deep dives into your choice of sites & experiences that makes your visits more impactful & fulfilling. 

Today’s internet dramatically simplifies your travel research, for example:

      a. simply & fully discloses your transportation options including routes etc …. for almost ‘everywhere.’    30 >40 years ago travel agencies guarded this info like some arcane priesthood.

No more — all available, instantly for free. 



     b. & other sites/apps list hostels everywhere; booking & a myriad of hostel specs.
 30>40 years ago I had to rely on terribly outdated guidebooks.(except Rick Steves guidebooks)   

        2. Classic Novels: Finally, I often read 1 or 2 of a nation’s classical novels taking me deeper into its history & culture.

    Anecdote: Japan: Shimazaki Toson’s Before the Dawn :  including the Nakasendo Road.

     B. Two TIPs:

            1) ALWAYS carry hotel name & address written down in your pocket)

            2) If important, like a specific food allergy: ask guide, driver or hotel clerk to write English translation down on paper — keep it simple.

The more you know about a country’s history & culture as well as its travel infrastructure (transportation, foods, lodging), ….  the richer your travel experiences & lifetime memories.AND … the less ‘travel anxiety’ I can almost guarantee you will have.

        Bus & cruise tourists intentionally near totally avoid travel anxiety abdicating all travel’s responsibilities & needs to those corporations.

    Anecdotes...and, by the way --- some SIT travelers I have met:

  1. A young women traveling the world solo on her bike.
  2. A middle aged woman who had been SIT traveling - continuously- for 10 years.
  3. A young man whose litany of countries visited during his 9 month odyssey sounded like he ws reading an atlas’ index. What a lifetime of memories.


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