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