There is fear that is debilitating, that stops you from exploring the world.
There is also fear that is useful, that protects you from entering dangerous situations.
There is anger that is unproductive, that stymies your ability to enjoy opportunities and people.
There is also anger that helps you read situations and people, thereby protecting you from danger.
Emotions such as fear and anger are neither good nor bad. I try to think of them in terms of being useful or not useful.
When it comes to solo travel, if I'm fearful I consider carefully whether it is warranted and useful. If it is, I pay attention to it. If it's not, I use logic to get past it and usually find that, once in a situation, I relax and confirm that the fear was unfounded. It's a similar situation with anger. By deciding whether it's appropriate to be angry at a person or situation, I determine whether the anger is useful or not. If it is, it's protecting me. If not, it's restricting me and I have to figure a way past it.
I believe that, when traveling solo, it's important to make anger and fear useful.
Travel Fear Can be a Good Thing
My first trip after starting Solo Traveler was down the Blues Highway. I traveled from Chicago to New Orleans with stops in Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi, going to as many blues bars as I could. Ironically, it wasn't at a bar that I felt fear–it was when walking to the National Museum of Civil Rights in Memphis.
It was full daylight but the streets were very quiet. Too quiet. So I stopped into an architect's office to make sure that I was in a safe area and on the right route to the museum. I was. All was okay. But my fear was healthy. There were real factors to make me question the safety of the area. The fact that there were no people around in the middle of the day was the primary one. It got my Spidey senses tingling. I listened to the fear and acted on it.
Anger Can be Useful when Traveling Solo
Now, anger is a tougher one for me. I don't do anger really well and when I do get angry I typically forget it fairly quickly. But here's an example for you.
On one of my first solo trips in my twenties I was lured into a very elaborate con game. My innocence made me a target but anger protected me in the end. The con game lasted from morning till night. And, like most con games, all seemed fine for most of that time. But by evening he was trying to finish the con and I didn't like his behavior. It made me fearful and angry and I finally got up and walked out. That anger may have saved my life. You can read about it in detail here: Solo Travel Danger: Caught in a Con Game.
Good Fear and Anger Can be Hidden
As I mentioned, I don't typically do anger well. Many of us don't. Fear is another emotion that we may push down.
We are taught to ignore anger and fear because we are supposed to be strong and polite. As a result, these useful, protective emotions can sometimes hide from us. They are still there but we may have to look for them. They may be lodged in your gut, in intuition, or in a question mark in your brain. Pay heed to them. Think about them logically and decided whether the anger and fear are warranted and therefore useful, or not.
- Trust your instincts about people and places.
- Do your own research so that you travel with knowledge.
- Ask people you trust for advice.
Choose safety first.
Of course, there's much more to traveling solo safely. I have written many posts on the topic. Please check out the Solo Travel Safety category.