5 tips to beat pre-trip anxiety before traveling to Bolivia

Even those who love traveling can fall prey to pre-trip anxiety once in a while. Will you be safe? Will you be able to work and stay in touch with loved ones from your destination? Should you be traveling somewhere else, instead? Should you be traveling alone?  Just because you have these feelings doesn´t mean you should not travel. But you should definitely take them into account, find out what is triggering them, and take measures to put your mind at ease. In this post we share with you five tips (and a bonus) for doing just that.

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  1. Identify the source of anxiety

It´s important to figure out the source of what’s bothering you, to see if there are any measures you can take to feel better about the trip. Are you nervous about being robbed? Not being able to communicate with anyone? Are you afraid of flying? Or that you’ll be lonely? Do you think you’ll miss an important event at home?

Once you identify the source, see what you can do to fix it. Would you feel more confident about not getting your stuff stolen if you bought a camera bag that locked? If you’re nervous about meeting people, you could post a message on the local Couchsurfing group or book yourself into a dorm or private room at a social hostel.

With traveling so affected recently by the closing of borders and cancellation of flights and other services, it´s normal to feel nervous that your trip could suffer unforeseen changes. To be safe, you shoud deffinitelly buy travel incurance. Check out this article about the best travel isnurance companies for packpackers.

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Sometimes, the only problem is you´re worried about the unknown, and that is normal. But then, going out into the unknown is probably why you travel in the first place. To help ease the anxiety, it´s important to follow our next tip:

  1. Do your research 

If what is bothering you has to do with lack of information, then getting information is essencial. If not knowing is a problem, then plan at least the first days of your trip in detail, just to put your mind at ease. You can always cancel tours, move to another hostel, or go somewhere else once you´re feeling more confident.

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So, find out about the best hotels, the safest tours, what the people are like, cultural dos and dont´s, how you should dress. Answer questions such as: are there ATMs? Can you pay with debit or credit cards? What are the safest neighborhoods? What local food should you eat and what should you avoid?

Of course, find out what health measures you should take. For example, if you´re traveling to Bolivia or Peru, you might be uneasy about the altitude (3600 meters above sea level in La Paz). Check out this article about how to deal with it and stay safe. Once you have all the information, you´re ready for our next tip:

  1. Plan (and book) ahead

Aside from relieving anxiety and stress, planing and booking ahead can be a great source of pre-trip joy. Like we said before, planing the first few days in detail can help you feel secure.

So, what will you do as soon as you step off the bus or plane? Decide now if you will want to change money at the airport/bus terminal, or can wait to do it downtown. How will you get to your hotel or hostel? In Bolivia, the covid-19 crisis has made traveling in public transportation a less safe option, so we recomend you book a hotel that can send a cab to get you from the airport. They follow all the mesures to ensure bio-safety.

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Ok, so, you´re at your hotel. What then? Depending on what time you arrive, you might want to rest and leave the sightseeing for the next day. You can book a tour of the city to get your bearings in a controled way. No matter which city in Bolivia you are visiting, click here for a comprehensive list of certified tours you can book right away.

Same thing goes if you are traveling by bus. You can buy your bus and train tickets online for dozens of destinations in Bolivia  and to neighboring countries. Just click here, write in your origin and destination and the date you want to travel. You will be able to compare prices and services and choose the best option for you.

But, wait. Are you anxious too much planning wil stifle your freedom? Are you not ready to commit to a tight schedule? Well, that takes us to the next tip:

  1. Know you can always change your mind or cancel

Planning and booking ahead is a tool you use to ensure you get a room you like and you have your tickets secured for your trip, as well as giving you a feeling of safety and control. But this is your trip. You can cancel a hotel booking after a few days if you don´t feel comfortable, or have found a place that better suits your needs. You can cancel bus and train tickets and get most of your money back, as long as you do it 48 hours before the trip. Same thing applies for tours.

Of course, if you are tight on cash, your cancelling options might be fewer. But, if you book with Tickets Bolivia, you can even just change the destination or date of your trip, so you don´t need to cancel but you still enjoy the freedom of improvising as you go along.

You can do whatever you want on this trip. You can be more adventurous, or more easygoing. You can be social or a loner. You can have the  peace of mind that comes with booking everything ahead, with the thrill of making your trip your own as you go along.

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  1. Bring extra cash for safer options

Speaking of tight on cash, it is a very real thing that you should have extra cash you can count on in order to stay safe, especially if you are having doubts about the trip.

Safety and freedom to change your mind are things you should really invest in.  For example, if you need to take a cab because you don´t feel comfortable walking or taking public transportation, or booking into a more expensive but safer hotel, or cancelling a bus ticket without the possibility of a refund because you simply changed your mind.

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You may never need to use it, but you will be reassured just knowing that the extra money is there to spend it if you need it.

  1. Bonus tip: know you will probably be glad you came

99.9% of the time, you’ll be glad you came. You will look around you at the landscape, the view, the food in front of you, the new friends you´ve made and say to yourself: I´m so glad I went on this trip. But often you don’t realize that until you’re on the ground in your destination. Feeling the different temperature, the language of people, the streets full of different smells and colors. That may be all that it takes to remind yourself why you love traveling in the first place.

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Uyuni Salt Flat (by Gaby Iturri)

Of course, there are occasional instances when cancelling a trip altogether is the right way to go. Maybe the time is not right and you can make this trip later in the year. Maybe it´s something else you need to solve. In any case, se hope these tips are useful for making up your mind.

Traveling again after lock-down

Just like social and commercial interaction, traveling will not be the same when the crisis caused by covid-19 passes. We will and will not go back to “normal”.

The world is going through a crisis such as we haven´t seen in our lifetimes; closed borders in every continent, hundreds of thousands of cancelled trips, passengers stuck abroad without a way to come home and many stimied plans. This, without mentioning the thousands of lives lost and the fear and anxiety many of us are feeling. Just remember, as the saying goes, this too, shall pass.

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Closed borders in Colombia

No matter what country we are living in, the lock-down imposed to control the spread of covid-19, the situation demands that we postpone plans and dreams in order to stay at home to keep the curve of illness at sustainable levels. We will come out of this, of course, and we will travel again, to feel the joy of looking out a train window, a incredible landscape flowing by, or the vertigo of an airplane takeoff, the wonder of steping into a new city for the first time. We will travel again, but some things won´t be the same.

In this post, we tell you about three of many thigs that will probably will change in the way we travel in the near future.

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Tour bus in La Paz
  • We will travel more within our own country

It is very likely that national tourism and travel will be the first to recover when lock-down measures are lifted, since national travel will not have to deal with national borders,  which may still be difficult to cross for many months.

Probably, we will have to take this opportunity to travel within our countries, not only due to sanitary restrictions that will exist for international travel, but also to help recover the economy of national tourism and travel, which will have been strongly hit by the crisis. It will be an opportunity to get to know these tourist destinations in your country that you have been neglecting.

  • We will travel more by land

Airlines are amont the industries that will be most hit by this sanitary crisis and the masures to contain it. Once they are able to operate again, they will probably have to fly with emptier seats (no more middle seats for a while) in order to limit passenger interaction. This might cause a significant increase in prices. Not to mention the husstle at airports; if lines were tortuous before, can you imagine when you add sanitary checks?

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Ferroviaria Andina

On the other hand, one of the effects of this crisis, which has stopped many industries is the recovery of ecosystems and the decrease in pollution and contamination of the environment. When we get out of this crisis, it will be hard to go back to “normal” with no awareness of how our “normal” affects the earth and, eventually, our hability to live on it. We will probably be more concious than ever of our carbon footprint and the effecto on the environment of the desitions we make when traveling.

Therefore, it is likely we will choose train travel more often, since it is the most eco-efficient way to go) instead of planes for longer trips, whenever possible. We will likely choose bus or train for shorter, national trips as well, since they have a much lower rate of pollution per passenger than air travel.

  •  We will buy our tickets online

Like in many other socia and comertial interactions, traveler´s will chose more often to avoid handling chash, not out of a fear of getting robbed, but out of  a fear of holding this object that changes hands hundreds of times and may be a hard-to-sterilize source of contamination.

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Buying online (Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay )

Also, buying ht etickets over the Internet allows you to avoid crowded places, such as land terminals, which will also protect you agains the propagation of infectious deseases. You can buy online bus and train tickets for Bolivia, Chile and Peru easily and safely.

So, despite the fact that many things will probably change in the mid-term, such as where we choose to travel and by what means, and how we purchase tickets, we are certain we will travel again, in a more sustainable way than before.

Calling all music lovers; from Santa Cruz to the Chuiquitos Circuit by bus or train

If you are a lover of music and travel, if you are keen on getting to know those places still off the international tourist radar, then this post is for you. I’ll tell you all about the Chiquitos Circuit, the amazing music festival held there every two years, and how you can travel easily from Bolivia’s largest city, Santa Cruz, to the Chiquitos Circuit by bus or train.

The ancient Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos, towns founded between 1691 and 1767 in the territories of the chiquitano indigenous people, are some of the most important monuments of Bolivia´s cultural and historic heritage. It is not only the amazing churches that mix indigenous and European imagery, showing off the intricate artistry of indigenous hands, nor the joy of watching children play in an orchestra with instruments they made themselves, nor the lush green forest surroundings that make the Chiquitos Circuit a destination to discover.

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A church in the Chiquitos Circuit

It is also the fact that, during the process of restoration of the Jesuit temples in the 70s, an enormous musical treasure was discovered: more than 9,000 sheets of religious music written between the XVII and XVIII centuries, both by European and indigenous composers. 

This amazing discovery gave way to turning Chiquitos into the epicenter of the celebration of baroque music in South America, with the creation of the International Festival of Renaissance and Baroque Music “Misiones de Chiquitos”, which is organized by APAC and held in April  every two years since 1996. And you can attend the festival easily, by traveling from Santa Cruz to the Chiquitos Circuit by bus or train. 

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Poster for the festival held in 2018

For the international musicians of baroque music that come from all over the world to play at this festival, it is like going back in history in a cross-cultural experience. The music played is often arranged or composed by local indigenous musicians, a magical moment because of its cultural implications. Most of the concerts are held at no cost to the public and the the local communities participate actively in the Festival, as well as many music lovers who come just for the concerts. In fact, there are special tours offered for those who want to get to know the natural, cultural and historic richness of Bolivia and  experience a tour for people who don’t like tours.

The towns of Chuiquitos are very special. Founded between 1696 and 1760, most of the churches have their original structure and facades and the works of art inside made by European and indigenous artists. But it is not just the temples that live on; despite the expulsion of the Jesuits in the year 1767 and the passing of time, the teachings, language, religious and pagan customs, the temples and the music have been kept intact. Thus, the towns are not ruins or museums, but live communities with the inheritance of a rich, complex historic past and a thriving mestizo culture. 

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Children musicians in Chiquitos

In 1990, UNESCO declared six missions of Chiquitos Cultural Heritage of Humanity, naming them “living towns” for the living and thriving customs that have been kept alive by their communities. These towns are:

But there are other mission towns that, despite not being named in UNESCO’s declaration, are part of the Chiquitos Circuit and also extraordinary destinations. These are:

There are two main ways to travel from Santa Cruz to the Chuiquitos Circuit, and here we tell you all about it.

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The Chiquitos Circuit

Santa Cruz to San Jose de Chiquitos by train

The trip from Santa Cruz to San Jose de Chiquitos by train lasts around 6 hours, covering a distance of 272 km. San Jose is the capital of the province of Chiquitos, and it was the third town founded as a ministry of the Jesuits on March 19th, 1697. This town is well-known for its church, built of stone in the 17th century.

To travel from Santa Cruz to San Jose de Chuiquitos by train, you take the train at the Station in Santa Cruz, located on Montes Av. Trains leave every day except on Saturdays. They arrive at the Train Station in San Jose, located on Gallardo Av. If you want to reserve the tickets and heck out times of departure and arrivals, click here: Santa Cruz to San Jose de Chiquitos by train

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Traditional dancing at the church of Concepcion

Santa Cruz to San Ignacio de Velasco By bus

San Ignacio de Velasco is one of the largest towns in the Chiquitos Circuit, and it lies at a distance of 471 km from the city of Santa Cruz. Trip data:

The bus company Pionera Trans Bolivia offers USB chargers, coffee & water bar and Wi-Fi. If you want to check prices and availability, click here:  Santa Cruz to San Ignacio de Velasco by bus

San Ignacio de Velasco was founded in 1748 by Jesuit missions at the foot of beautiful mountains and close to the Paragua River. The town is strategically located, making it the receptive center for tours to the Missionary Triangle: San Miguel, San Rafael and Santa Ana de Velasco.

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Children musicians in Chiquitos

We hope this information was useful and that you will plan your trip from Santa Cruz to Chiquitos by bus or train. If you are rather a nature lover than a megalomaniac, look out for our next blog, where we explain how to explore the Noel Kempf Mercado Park, one of the most remote and exotic national reservations, located at just 198 km from San Ignacio de Velasco. Cheers and good travels!