Cities Journal

Traveling Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

Photo credit: MarioMancuso / Flickr

People who are content to live well within their comfort zones encounter few, if any, risks to add challenge and excitement to their lives. Traveling offers a wonderful opportunity to step out and experience new faces and places, and even risk trying out new modes of transportation.

To get the most from your travels, however, you must be willing to venture outside of your bubble of protection and live the adventure to the full.

Comfort Zone or Comfort Zones?

Traveling outside of your comfort zone can have different meanings to different people. For some people, it may mean opening their lives to experience new relationships or emotional challenges. For others, it may mean exploring exotic lands and getting to know strange or outlandish cultures.

Yet, others may simply need to throw caution to the wind to experience the “dangers” of traipsing across the desert on a camel, taking a Trans-Atlantic cruise, or backpacking across an entire continent. Whatever your comfort zone looks like, a new adventure awaits you by being willing to stretch your boundaries and take a peek at what’s around the bend.

Why Bother Stretching Your Comfort Zone?

According to executive coach Margie Warrell, author of Stop Playing Safe, people who are willing to go beyond their comfort zones and take risks are more likely to reap bigger rewards. This can apply on both a personal and professional level. Stepping out of your comfort zone involves taking risks, but the positive results can make all your efforts worthwhile.

Here are some benefits of breaking out of the norm when traveling and trying the new:

1. You make new friends. Whether you go by boat, plane, train or camel, there’s always someone new to befriend and share a cultural experience with.
2. You learn and grow as a person. Traveling opens the door to discover new abilities or skills and grow as an individual.
3. You build self-confidence. You never know what you can do until you try, and traveling affords you the opportunity to try the new at every destination. Try getting around without a guide, speaking a new language or bargaining down souvenir prices. As you conquer your fears about visiting new cultures, your self-confidence begins to soar.

Comfort zones have a way of holding you back and keeping you stagnant, physically, mentally and emotionally. People were not meant to stay dormant, but to expand their horizons and grow. As Mark Twain so aptly put it “Why not go out on a limb, that’s where all the fruit is.”

How to Stretch Your Comfort Zone?

There are many ways to stretch your comfort zone when traveling. Online magazine “Thought Catalog” offers these few suggestions to get you started:

  • Try traveling on your own: It may not sound so appealing at first, but it gives you a chance to take control of your venture and take it to the next level.
  • Interact with locals and get involved: Ask questions about your destination, food, dress and customs – you may even get invited “home” to experience local hospitality to the full.
  • Walk, whenever possible, and explore out of the way markets, shops and eateries to see what there is to discover.
  • Enjoy a flexible schedule and be open to losing yourself in the midst of nowhere as part of your adventure.
  • Try communicating in the local language – order your own food, ask your own directions, do your own bartering.
  • New adventures await those who are willing to travel outside their comfort zone and see what life has to offer. Stretching your comfort zone lets you build bridges to explore the world around you and beyond.

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