Guest Blogger: Denise Stolnik
Porto Alegre, Brazil.
As I hike the Israel National Trail, I sometimes feel that I appear as a 'lady in distress'. Everyone I meet sees a daughter or sister in me and tries to help. They may offer water, food or a safe place to sleep. I am not offended by this because their intent is just to help.
I have lots of experience hitchhiking which helps me a lot when it comes to questions like, "Where am I going? What time will I arrive?"and "Where will I sleep tonight?" So I stay calm and know that everything will be okay.
I started my trips in simple ways and once I was confident that everything was going to be okay, I started seeking other challenges. First, I began traveling alone. Then, I started hitchhiking alone. Eventually, I became confident even when traveling in a country where I didn't speak the language. Although my travels sometimes sound crazy, I always do my research about something similar or read about someone who has taken the same journey. One rule I try to apply to my life: If you have already done it, I will listen to your advice. If you have never done it, I will ignore you because it will only be your fear talking.
Inspirational figures are very important to me because they show that what seems impossible is often possible. I follow many Brazilian women who travel a lot. For example, one travels by bicycle. Another hitchhikes around the world. Another intentionally travels without money.
I think that traveling alone is easier because you only have one person to take care of: YOU. You learn your limits and understand how good your own company can be. It makes you stronger. You can still break down and cry but in the end, you are the one who has to figure out the solution to the problem.
With regards to fearing violence against women, there are several technics that you can try. I try to make a human connection with the person that is causing me concern. Try to make him relate you to someone he knows and likes; perhaps a female in his family. Also, make your motives clear: My intent is to hike this trail - I'm not looking for anything else.
If you feel uncomfortable at all, don't think twice and getting out. Don't worry about sounding weird or making the situation embarrassing, just trust your instincts and get out. Always try to find a way of saying that someone knows where you are (even though it may be a lie and you don't even have a signal on your cellphone). For example, you could say, "Just give me a second while I send my mom a message saying that everything is okay. By the way, what's your name again?" Sometimes it may help to mention that you have a boyfriend if someone is trying to hit on you.
Dealing with PMS and periods is an extra challenge while on the trail. Usually, it's easier to deal with it on the trail rather than in the city because in the city, you have so many things that can irritate you. And, actually, the exercise of walking actually helps with the pain.
In general, do some research when it comes to your fears. You may find out that the things you are afraid of are really only based on rumors.
Wolverine here. Huge thanks to Denise for writing the above post. I consider her to be an expert hiker and a world class traveler. She offers a perspective that I often overlook. Please leave a comment below and let her know what you think