Anxiety is the malady of our times. Millions of people around the world are medicated due to nervous disorders. We are a society of nervous wrecks. We also live in a time where it has never been easier to see the world. Cheap flights and easy access to travel allows us to reach every corner of the globe. It would be a shame to allow our fears to hold us back.
I am one of the aforementioned cases. Travelling and meeting new people are the experiences that I treasure most in life. I have however often found myself enduring sleepless nights and panic attacks pre departure as my brain runs through the millions of unlikely deadly scenarios I may find myself if. Visions of being passed out in a gutter,car jacked, kidnapped and held for ransom, harvested for organs, sold on the slave market, these are all thoughts that have plagued me. As I’ve grown more experienced as a traveler, and encountered other solo travelers, I have found some tips that are especially valuable.
Take Lima Peru for instance. Coming from many western countries, it is very likely that you will be assailed with warnings about your certain demise should you choose to embark solo on a mission to Lima. While Lima may not be the safest city in the world, it can be a great time, and the opportunity to eat the food alone is reason enough to spend a few days there. Follow bellow for a much less worrisome trip.
1) If you take anxiety medication for flying, take it early. You will want to be as aware and alert as possible when you land in Lima.
2) Book an airport pickup. There are travel agencies that can arrange for a driver to be waiting for you when you land. It is a nice feeling to know that someone will be there looking for you when you get off of that plane. Although this is expensive it is in my opinion worth it. A company that I had a particularly good and punctual experience with is D&D Taxi service. Many hostels and hotels will also book an airport transfer. If you do not book a ride before hand, make sure to go to a tourist or information desk to be sure that you are getting in into a licensed cab. Some of the official companies include Green Taxi, CMV, and Mitsui, and these cars will be at an inflated tourist rate for sure, but it is better to overpay for safety in my opinion.
3) Leave a very detailed itinerary with friends or family at home. Include all flight numbers, and get a name or contact number for that driver. You will feel much more at peace if you know that your people at home can track you down.
4) Stay in the safe areas of Miraflores or Barranco. These safe areas are a good place to meet other travelers as well. In Miraflores try Albergue Miraflores House, which has a central location and a good reputation. In Barranco, Lima Bed and Coffee has a beautiful rooftop terrace and is very affordable.
5) Meet other travelers. Go outside of your comfort zone if you have to, but be as outgoing as possible. There are plenty of people out there going it solo, and it definitely soothes the nerves to have a buddy.
6)Be vigilant about taxis. Always negotiate the taxi price before hand, and make sure you have enough Spanish to do this (a phrasebook it key). Always try and get your accommodation, restaurant or museum to call a trusted cab for you. If you must hail in the street, sit in the back, make sure nothing else is back there and be sure that the windows roll down.
7) Do a guided tour. This can be booked through most hostels and hotels. A good way to see the sights and to stay in a safe group.
8) Eat! The food in Lima is Exceptional. In Miraflores try El Rincon de Bigote for ceviche. Also try the restaurant in The Larco museum (About a 15 minute cab ride from Miraflores and well worth it, as it houses one of world’s largest collections of pre-Columbian art.) They have many typical Peruvian dishes, the Peruvian pesto being well worth a try. It is made with spinach as well as basil and has a very full, rich flavor.
9) Network. Search your social network. You might be surprised to find that friends of friends live in, or know people in Lima. It is certainly worth trying, and if you can team up with a local you will have an experience that will rival anything you could plan your own. A friend of mine who lived in Lima shared
this insight: “Peruvians are incredibly welcoming and friends of friends are treated with loads of warmth.” So check your facebook, myspace and twitter and see what you can come up with.
10) If someone does try and mug you, just give them what they want. It is not worth getting injured over, and with many muggings in Lima the offenders are not trying to hurt you, they just want your things. A good trick is to keep your passport and money in a waist belt under your clothes, but have enough cash on you so that if you do get mugged, you can hand off some money while keeping most of your things.
Even if you suffer from excessive anxiety, you can still enjoy traveling in Lima. B Plan well in advance, stay organized and do plenty of research. Life is too short to be limited by our fears, so go on and get out there.
*D&D Taxi service: http://www.dydtaxi.com/
Albergue Miraflores House: http://www.alberguemirafloreshouse.com/
Lima Bed and Coffee: http://www.limabedandcoffee.com
El Larco Musem: http://www.museolarco.org/#mus
El Rincon De Bigote, Jr. Jose Galvez Nro. 529, Miraflores, Lima