From what I can remember, my earliest panic attack was in grade 5. High Function anxiety has shown up in different ways and has seemed to linger in my life for quite a while. Only in the past few years have I tried to find healthy ways to handle it. So when it came to solo travel, I had no idea what the outcome would be.
It took four different planes to get to Peru (Flights round trip to Toronto was $600). The idea of the trip was to come away and refocus for the two weeks. Working two jobs for that year had helped me achieve such a trip, but I was already heading there in a jumbled brain space. Here’s a few things that helped me manage and enjoy the adventure.
Knowing that lists and over planning might calm me down I had printed all tours and tickets 4 times. I placed them in different luggage spots in case something got lost or damaged. I also screened shot everything on my phone. I even used google maps to capture a map from the main square of the city back to where I was staying.
I packed only a carry on (my 35L backpack) and my personal item was a very large handbag. This meant I didn’t have to worry about missing luggage and it gave me a piece of mind I had everything always with me (to recheck over and over).
Always have a back up! In regards to money, another place to stay, and well almost everything have a backup. I’m very danger prone. Things went wrong in every aspect of this trip and If I didn’t have a back up I would’ve be stranded.
Pack your cash in different places. My wallet got stolen and I thought all my cash with it. After finding a bank my credit card was frozen (even after telling my bank before I left). It was the third day and I thought I was money less for the remaining trip until my flight. I had 30 dollars Canadian which would only help me for the next day, as where I exchanged the money I was charged a lot in fees. To top off the panic I got lost trying to find the hostel where I was staying. Once I arrived back to the hostel in the locker was my handbag where I had stashed some cash. When I found it I burst into tears, as I could budget the amount in hand to last the trip. Have Back up!
The Hostel where I stayed couldn’t find my Expedia paid reservation. I was asked several times when I was leaving! I wish I had researched other places near by and was brave enough to leave. I had printed my booking but as I was leaving they still said I couldn’t exit the locked gate until I paid again. With a booked hotel transfer car waiting to take me to the air port, I had to hurry as I was about to be late. I ended up stopping the fight about payment and used my credit card. I explained I would contact later to sort it out (expecting to be refunded when I showed the several receipts and poof of payment). My card was charged twice and I never saw the refund. If you are staying at a hostel bring cash. Even pay per night of your stay so that way you won’t be over charged as you rush out the door. This also keeps your credit card number out of the hands of others.
Prep in advance. You can book tours, hikes, and transportation in advance. I loved knowing I had already purchased a way to and from the airport when I arrived. It also gave me a piece of mind knowing what my week may look like.
Before you go know what works for you to enjoy your time. If you don’t know helpful steps to handle stressful moments in a way that’s healthy for you, the trip may not be as fun. Not every adventure has trouble but know how to deal with it in case it does. I love writing. My flights were extremely cheap but this came with it’s own price. I was very sick from them (or the food). I could write on the plane, after a day filled with hiccups, and even when I felt unsafe. This helped clear my head and focus on the beauty I got to witness.
Remember its worth it. The week before I left I broke down in front of a friend because a tour was cancelled, my car kept having to go to the garage ($$$), and the expenses weren’t what I planned for. When I was on top of a mountain I didn’t think of that. When I was enjoying different food and culture I didn’t worry about that. The trip challenged me in a way that I needed. I realised when travelling how much fear played a part in my life. Going to another country that speaks a different language, was my wild way of fighting back.
Deep breathe, now go!