I’m a little afraid to travel.
I can’t wait to head out on a long bike trip on my own, but hearing about solo riders being assaulted makes me pause and think. It probably won’t stop me, but how do I control the fear?
Being afraid to travel or having concerns about personal safety, and not just on solo motorcycle journeys, is, sadly, something women deal with on a regular basis. The reality is there are no guarantees, even when you’re in supposedly safe places such as your own neighborhood. Bad things can occur anywhere, but, luckily, attacks by strangers are quite rare.
So what can you do to quell your anxiety? Hearing horror stories can definitely increase your fears, but putting those stories into perspective is important, as is learning what you can do to stay safe in the majority of circumstances.
How to Deal With the Fear
If you’re a little afraid to travel, crucial skill to develop is environmental awareness. Know where you are, who is around you, and trust those tingly, hair-raising feelings when you get them. A woman I know used her gut instinct and quick thinking to get her out of a potentially dangerous situation. She was at a gas stop when some guys began to approach her. She started talking loudly and bizarrely, and behaving erratically, just long enough to confuse the men and give her time to get on her bike and go. All too often we think we’re overreacting when we feel unsure, and use reassurance to override those gut feelings. So avoid places that are uncomfortable and listen to those voices in your head.
Learning self-defense before you take off won’t protect you from all situations, but it will build your confidence in being able to handle many that might arise. We tend to get caught in ‘what if this happens to me’ and forget the next step, which is ‘what will I DO if this happens to me.’ Mentally rehearsing options is a big part of self-defense training: it moves you from passive to active participant. Being able to see those options is empowering, and by reminding yourself of what you can do your fears can fade into the background. An internal sense of strength, coupled with some useful techniques, can help you quickly assess the level of danger, and hopefully buy you enough time to escape most situations.
Knowing what triggers your worst fears is also useful. If reading about others who have had bad experiences serves only to freak you out, then quit reading them. But if instead they can be scanned to see what those riders learned from them, then it can help prepare you for circumstances you may not yet have encountered in your own life. At the same time, remember that there are far more solo women out there who have only amazing experiences to share; make sure to be reading their stories as well to remind you of why you want to get out there and explore on your own. Once you do, remember to share your adventures with the rest of us!