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Tips For Traveling Outside Your Comfort Zone

skydiving

Skydiving. Photo courtesy of Philip Leara.

Have you ever felt a desire to do something different? Forget the beach resorts in the Caribbean, the guided sightseeing tours through Rome and the casino getaways in Vegas. You want to challenge yourself, have an enriching experiencing and gain a new perspective. But, you’re nervous. What if things don’t go according to plan? What if you end up stuck in an uncomfortable situation? The reality is traveling outside your comfort zone is rarely a negative thing, as even if you end up disliking the experience you’ll still have learned something. To help you travel outside your comfort zone, here are some essential tips.

1. Stop Making Excuses

Before traveling outside your comfort zone, you’ve got to get something on your calendar. For many people, taking off work, paying trip expenses, and leaving their significant other behind for a week or more can seem daunting, and can lead them to stay home instead of hitting the road. The solution? Stop making excuses. Your bills will always be there, work will always “need you” and your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse can either come along or be happy you’re doing something positive for yourself. Nothing in life is certain except our past experiences, and you deserve the opportunity to make some rewarding memories.

2. Think Of The Possibilities

There’s a reason you’re reading this post to begin with. Most likely you’re considering an adventurous pursuit or taking a type of trip you normally wouldn’t. This means there is something inside of you that sees the benefit of traveling outside your comfort zone. And there is. Not only will you be giving yourself a new perspective and opening yourself up to novel possibilities, you’re enriching your life. The more unique experiences you can have on the road, the more well-rounded you’ll be. Moreover, when you challenge yourself you gain the potential to grow, as you learn what you’re truly capable of. Think of the possibilities. It’s likely you’ll find little reason not to travel outside your comfort zone.

Longji terraces

Hiking through the Longji Rice Terraces from village to village in China.

3. Start Small…

Jumping off the world’s highest bungy tower or backpacking solo through India may seem daunting if these types of experiences are not what you’re used to. Test the waters by starting small and taking on something less intimidating, maybe traveling solo through a westernized country or zip lining. Push yourself a little more out of your comfort zone each time until there’s nothing you’re afraid to try.

4. Or Don’t

Alternatively, you can dive in head first and do something completely out of your comfort zone. This has the added benefit of making everything seem less scary next time around. This was my strategy when popping my solo travel cherry. While some people may have started small by visiting a western country or a place where English was the first language, I bought myself a single ticket to Bangkok. Sure, being dropped off by my taxi driver (who completely ripped me off) at the end of Khao San Road at 11pm with no idea where I was, drunk backpackers shouting and throwing beer as I nervously weaved in and out of side streets trying to find my hostel, was a terrifying first taste of solo travel. That being said, it made every solo travel trip thereafter seem like cake. Have faith in yourself, your common sense and your problem-solving abilities and you’ll have no issues  successfully completing any adventure.

5. Turn Feelings Of Anxiety Into Feelings Of Excitement

The body’s responses to both anxiety and excitement can be quite similar: racing heart, extra energy, an extreme focus on an upcoming event. Instead of focusing on the churning of your stomach, trick yourself into thinking these are feelings of anticipation. You’re not afraid of your upcoming endeavor, you’re looking forward to seeing how it changes your perspective or enriches your life. Those aren’t butterflies of anxiety, they’re butterflies of excitement.

jump

Jumping for joy in Puerto Rico

6. Change Your Attitude

They don’t say “attitude is everything” for nothing. There’s a lot of truth to this statement, as a positive attitude can lead to a positive outcome (and vice versa). If you go into a travel situation with negative feelings from the start this can cloud your entire experience; however, if you travel outside your comfort zone with the desire to strengthen your relationship with yourself and grow, your attitude will guide you toward your goal.

What tips would you add to this list? Please share in the comments below.

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6 Comments

  1. Anna on March 21, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I love this! I just took my first step outside the box to Costa Rica and it was the best adventure I could have taken for a beginner traveler. I’m impatient for the the next time and I’ve only been home for 48 hours!

    • jess2716 on March 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      @Anna: That’s how it goes. Story of my life! ha. I feel like whenever I’m on a trip I’m already planning the next one before I get home 🙂

  2. Sara Chukoian @Green Global Travel on April 2, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Such a useful post. As someone who travels, I have found it hard to encourage others to try to get out in the world and explore. I will definitely show them this post and have them takes notes. Great post, thank you for sharing!

    • jess2716 on April 2, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      @Sara: Thank you so much!

  3. Julie on March 11, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Great post! I know I am able to get out there, and go out of my comfort zone, as I have wanted to travel pretty early. But I also know that it can be difficult for some people to leave and explore the world. It can be scary to go somewhere you dont know much about. And the language can be a huge barrier. But if you never try, you’ll miss out on experiences. That’s why I try to encourage my friends to see something different.

    Thanks for these useful info!

    • jess2716 on March 11, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      @Julie: So so true. I still feel afraid sometimes when making travel decisions, such as choosing whether or not to move abroad for an extended time, but it’s important to weigh whether or not you’ll regret NOT going. You don’t want to end up with regrets, in my opinion 🙂

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