As a Sensor I like to feel safe and secure. I have that inherently low level of oxytocin which doesn’t beget instant trust of anything and in this particular body, I don’t have a lot to protect me. These are things I know instinctively. But it’s reassuring to know that it’s also totally normal for me – I know that I don’t have huge muscular strength for fleeing danger or facing it head-on. I don’t have physical reserves of stored energy to tide me through extreme experiences… but what I do have is a capable mind.
And if my mind is at ease. Then my body and my experiences follow suit.
So how do I use my mind to feel safe and secure? Here’s the top 6 ways that I feel safe and secure when I travel solo. They seem to work for me so if you’re a Sensor and you’re keen to get out there on your own, then have a read and see if any will help you feel good when you travel too.
1. Read reviews
It’s an interesting part because there are so many different opinions (That’s why the reviews on the HT Community from Sensors are so helpful!) but when there’s a consistent theme of good reviews, it gives me more confidence that I’ll ‘handle’ the experience well. That means that it helps me go into a situation with a positive attitude, you know that, ‘Oh – I can fix that’ if there is a problem, rather than an ‘OMG I knew this was a bad idea’ response which makes everything a whole lot easier. This applies to everything – from places to stay to tours to restaurants.
On that note I always leave honest reviews when I complete an experience. For example, Airbnb is a service I use a lot and I always mention the things that were important to me or the things that affected my experience – because I know it will be helpful for the next Sensor that thoroughly scours the reviews.
2. Plan what I do
Now it doesn’t mean I plan every second of every day but I do know the major things I want to hit while I’m in town. This for one gives me a purpose and secondly somewhat of a structure which in itself is like a comforting safety blanket. Researching before I go is helpful and then once I have arrived, chatting with other travellers or hosts, randomly searching for ‘best xxxx experience’ in google and keeping my eyes peeled as I roam the streets are all great ways to learn the best ways to discover my new home.
So it’s not planned down to the minute (though some of you might prefer to do that) but I do have a habit of each morning waking up and deciding the best path for the day. For example, I’ll choose somewhere to breakfast until a certain hour, what I would like to do in the day, how I’ll find lunch or what type of lunch I’ll have (i.e. whether it’s going to be ice-cream for the sugar rush and lightness or a snack I’ll take with me or a traditional cultural meal that I’ll need to nap after), then what I’ll do in the afternoon and what type of dinner I’ll aim to get at night. I’ll often decide to do a particular activity the following day, or later in the visit but I find having a plan for the day helps me feel confident.
And then when the plan changes as the day goes on, well, that’s just takes a moment to readjust my structured thoughts and adapt. Which then becomes a small Tetris-like challenge that ends up being fun!
3. Find something I like – and stick to it
Yes, I am a creature of habit and it feels good to have something that seems familiar when there is such a high amount of new sensory input. It helps me stay calm and so I can really enjoy the rest of the experience.
Now on this, sometimes I get the feeling that I should experience something new every time so I don’t miss out. And my reasoning is this: When I can take a moment to feel comfortable and relax and remove the ‘threats’ (i.e. unknown stimuli) then I can really feel at home, let my creativity blossom and enjoy the experience. so, apart from having another great experience, I’m also feeding myself some great foundation energy to keep me going.
It also feels really lovely when you are greeted familiarly – for example, I recently had breakfast at a gorgeous hotel in Granada, Nicaragua and the first time I went was exceptional – service, food and surroundings. But the second time I went, was simply beautiful – an even warmer smile, my coffee brought to me the way I requested the last time without even asking and that mutual appreciation of knowing that I’ve returned because the experience was great the last time.
4. Carry little and try not to be routine
Down to logistics because there are a few very simple, practical things I do that also help me feel secure.
- Carry as little money on me as possible. I know what I’m likely to do this day and so I can budget accordingly and carry what I need with just a little extra in case plans change. Depending on the area I’ll leave my valuables locked up or hidden in my room or carry them with me.
- Always have a separate start of money and/or cards. Just in case of an emergency. It’s like the adage of never putting all your eggs in one basket. If by chance you lose a bag or something gets taken, then you have back up.
- I don’t leave my things unattended, in fact, they are usually touching me or directly within eyesight and arms reach.
- I don’t like to travel with a lot of luggage because it makes me feel ‘heavy’ and less capable of freely moving or acting. It may sound strange but even having a large suitcase in my room feels like it holds me back.
- Take different paths. Even if I go to the same place for a few days I like to take a different path so that I’m not that easily followed or at least someone can’t ‘plan an attack’. This is actually great too because I get to know the location even better and often discover some gems along the way!
5. Blend in
I know it’s almost impossible some places I go because I’m long and lean and white but I do my best not to draw attention to myself. Now this doesn’t mean that I sneak around or try to hide. It means I try to blend in. I don’t talk loudly in a foreign language, I try not to gaze whimsically around too much at all the new things and I try not to stand looking at a map for too long in the middle of the street to figure out where I’m going.
What I do do is this:
- Look at my route before I go out and have it handy on my phone so I can just whip it out for a quick check while I walk.
- Walk confidently and not too slowly, being certain to notice people around me. I have only been scarily followed once (that I know of lol) and managed to turn around and smile at the man as I changed directions and doubled-back after I had noticed. He did not continue.
- Learn at least a little bit of the language like yes, no and thank you so that I can at least be polite
- Maintain a confident posture at all times. I stand tall with my head up so that I don’t look like an easy target. This is smooch better after I’ve been working out too – so I would recommend that to any Sensors looking at traveling (or just getting through everyday life with ease for that matter). It’s not about becoming a gym junkie, it’s more about feeling really sturdy and capable in my body so that I can handle new experiences.
6. Just take the Taxi
This was one very simple piece of advice from my sister and it does make me feel so much better! Sometimes it can just feel like a matter of principle – it’s just not right to charge tourists more for a taxi when they arrive just because they don’t know any better!
Well, once you accept it, and you know that they will always charge more for the official taxi from the airport or for the tours but it can go a long way to feeling safe when you’re on your own. Especially when you first arrive somewhere and are yet to get your bearings.
If I’m traveling overseas I will often choose the first place to stay because it has an airport transfer (which is usually a reliable mode of actually getting there). Otherwise when I accept the fact that I will be charged almost double the standard fare and consider it a necessary donation toward my peaceful state of mind I find that I relax and can take in all the sights on the journey to my new home.
Traveling alone for anyone can be daunting but when you’re a Sensor and you love your me-time, it can be a really rewarding experience when you feel safe and secure.
If you’re a Sensor with even more ways that you feel safe when you travel I’d love to hear them!