Pre-Travel Jitters: Danger Seems Closer from Afar

No, I’m by no means immune to pre-travel jitters and I sense danger looming ahead. Even after years and years of solo-travel, days before the departure, I’m a nervous wreck.

A man selling Cangas at the Copacabana in Brazil, a place that gave me travel jitters
A gentleman selling Cangas on the beach of the Copacabana. This is certainly a place where you shouldn’t take your valuables and leave your phone unattended. Other than that: Enjoy, life is a beach, after all!

Did ever anything happen to me that would justify this hysteria? Of course not! It’s only the tricky phenomenon that danger seems to be so much closer from afar.

I wonder how many people miss out on great travel opportunities only because danger looks bigger, closer, and more probable from afar. Maybe God is giving us pre-travel jitters to hold us back from mindlessly meandering the planet. Maybe it’s his way of saving beautiful places from derogating to a horrific spring break feast.

Trapped in the Big Picture

Do you know this effect when you’re travelling and people ask you where you’re from? First, you say just the country. If they are familiar with the place, you name the city. When it’s very small so that you cannot expect them to know it, you quote the federal state or the region and then narrow it down to the next bigger city and so on. If they happen to be familiar with your city, you tell them in which neighborhood or street you live.

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro
No wonder birds have no fear of flying: From above, everything is so overseeable.

Where I’m going with this? The farther you’re away, the more you are looking at the big picture respectively the big region. All of a sudden your entire country becomes your home. If someone at your local supermarket asks you where you live, you don’t name the country, do you?

It’s One

Unfortunately, this effect works also the other way around. When going to Brazil, in my head, I was going to the country, maybe yet the city. However, neither to the neighborhood nor the street.

This, of course, fuels the nervousness or even fear before you head for another trip, another adventure. You are getting pre-travel jitters as the entire destination becomes one huge and scary spot.

Graffiti in in Brazil, a place that gave me travel jitters
Although the writing on the wall asks for more love….

Hence, if a country is infamous for delinquency, in your head it’s everywhere. You don’t localize.

Graffiti in in Brazil, a place that gave me travel jitters
….not everybody complies.

Lamentably, I do that every time I travel. Before I go to Latin America, I’m freaked out because I might get mugged. Asia is better in this respect, but there I’m freaked to become a bus crash fatality. Then, there are diseases like Dengue, Yellow Fever, and much more waiting for me. And don’t get me started with wildlife such as poisonous spiders, snakes, and scorpions.

Ok, let’s relax and take a dip in the Ocean. The Ocean?! What sort of suicidal freak are you? Haven’t you heard of box jellyfish?

You can imagine that my anticipation gets a bit curbed….

Danger Is Not Waiting For Me

And then I get to where I am supposed to get and nobody tries to rob let alone mug me. The bus drivers are smooth, conscious guys. No mosquito bothers to bite, and I actually manage to swim around the box jellyfish.

Botafogo neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro
This is where I ended up: Rua São Clemente. When you look East, you see the sugarloaf. when you look west you might spot Cristo Redentor, but it’s not easy to see Thee since he’s often with his head in the clouds.

I’m having a great time and I’m not anguished a bit although realistically speaking, I am much closer to the danger than I was while I was worrying at home.

The danger lives practically next door, but I hardly realize its present.

And Now Brazil

After I gave you a little idea what makes me tick – can you imagine how I felt before going to Brazil?
To Rio de Janeiro?

I interviewed everybody who has ever been there. All I wanted to hear was that it’s totally harmless and I have nothing to be scared of.
My friends aren’t idiots, of course, they didn’t say that.
They told me to be careful and promised me at the same time I’d have a great time.
That was by far not good enough for me, I wanted them to tell me that every story about Rio is exaggerated.
They didn’t.
I freaked.

Actually, I freaked until the cab from the airport – of course, a prepaid, registered cab, do you think I’m suicidal? – turned into the Rua Nelson Mandela in Rio’s neighborhood of Botafogo.

It was eight at night. It was dark.
There were various nice, terraced bars and cafes packed with people. None of them dressed in something bullet-proved.
Across the street from the bars was a playground where little kids were running around, playing and shrieking. It was such a relaxed atmosphere.
It was dark yet people didn’t have to duck – good enough for me.

You can imagine my joy when the cab turn left at the next corner of this vivid, pleasant street and stopped in front of a building.

Here we were – I was home; in an animated, but absolutely lovely neighborhood.

The danger lives next door, but it’s a decent neighbor, keeping pretty much to himself.

Since even after years of extensive travel and visits to many mesmerizing places around the globe, I still have to cope with pre-travel jitters before leaving, I put together some strategies on how to surpass pre-travel anxiety. So – KEEP CALM and TRAVEL

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23 Replies to “Pre-Travel Jitters: Danger Seems Closer from Afar”

  1. I love the idea here about being there for a few weeks and having to really change your travel style. You do have to pick up the language and invest a lot more than if you were just swinging through.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more. When you go to a new country to study or to work, it is much different than being a tourist. You may be new there, but you end up experiencing the culture in a very different way.

  3. I love to travel so I usually do not look at the statistics when it comes to different cities. Every place can be dangerous, and we have to be cautious everywhere we go. I am glad that you had an awesome experience in Rio.

  4. I have never been to Brazil but would love to go. Even if it's just for a work trip. Looks like you were able to squeeze some really great sightseeing in between work obligations. And thank goodness for Marcie being able to give you some valuable info!

  5. I have never been to Rio, but my friends told me about its beauty. I think it is great that you take everything from travelling!

  6. I loved Brazil, especially its beaches. I only spent two days in Rio which was nowhere near enough! You look like you had a great time x

  7. Rio is such a beautiful city and it has been on my list for sometime now. Lucky you that you got to stay as an expat for 2 weeks there. 🙂

  8. Rio de Janeiro is on my bucket list but I am not sure whether it is safe or not. What do you think? I am glad that you're enjoying yourself there…love your pics!

    1. It's a very interesting and beautiful place, but you simply cannot go everywhere. Since it's constantly changing – probably a bit faster than most other places – it's best to ask reliable people where you can go and how you should get there. I would refrain from venturing, that can probably be bad in Rio.

  9. When I went to Rio, I was really nervous too. I was really lucky because I went with friends. I was told that I needed to stick together. Marcie sounds like an amazing person. You're lucky that you are blending it so well and making such good friends.

  10. Wow 2 weeks expat in Brazil, and you did some language course, 2 in one 😀 I wanted to go to Brazil, but not really sure if it is safe for a girl solo backapacking. But you did it, so will you recommend?

    1. Of course I would recommend to go to Rio de Janeiro if you have the chance. And I never had problems being solo; then again, I'm far from being a 'girl', I'm 55, so that might have an impact on how people – especially men – are treating you. Rio is a rough and tough place that you can visit, but I would refrain from venturing around mindlessly. I was on the alert regarding my stuff – and my life 😉 – but after all I was ok. Other places in Brazil were much, much smoother.

  11. It is so good to see that Marcie is helping you out and correcting your slightest mistakes even. All the best for learning Portugal 🙂

  12. Rio de Janeiro looks like such a beautiful place. I have heard that it can be a dangerous place, so I completely understand your reservations. But I guess the more you're learning and exploring that more comfortable you become. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Rio looks amazing. So many interesting parts to it. Definitely a different look from what I saw at the Olympics. Always seemed kind of scary… actually Very pretty

  14. I have been to Rio de Janeiro and I was also a bit worried for safety but once there I kind of forget about everything, such a beautiful city and so vibrant!

    1. That's exactly what I mean: As soon as you get there, you forget about statistics and the place itself isn't scary anymore.

  15. It's very interesting to have someone correct you and teach you while you are on another country. I'd love to learn more languages!

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