Step away from the comfort zone
I was 20 years old when I took my first solo trip. It was a trip of several firsts for me, including the first time traveling without my parents. It was also the first time I visited Venice, and most importantly, that I stepped outside my comfort zone.
While one side was excited to discover a new destination according to my rules; the other wanted to stay home. The comfort zone isn’t something you can physically see, but it’s something you 100% feel when it’s happening.
It’s always daunting trying something different, more so when in a new country. A tailor-made holiday helps bridge the gap between visiting somewhere new and still maintaining a sense of familiarity.
Here are 5 reasons why you should step outside of your comfort zone and book that flight.
1. Travel outside your comfort zone — you challenge yourself
When you travel outside your comfort zone, it can feel like the odds are stacked up against you. There are language barriers and cultural norms and differences to deal with, not to mention also the different cuisines.
However, rather than seeing these as negatives, consider them instead as challenges. I couldn’t speak a word of Italian when visiting Venice as a 20-year-old and struggled big time. Of course, upon visiting, I quickly realized that I wasn’t alone in my struggles.
By the end of the trip, I was switching between English and, weirdly enough, Spanish when I needed to communicate. I returned home feeling more confident, and ready to book another trip.
Fast forward to the present day and ironically, I can now speak Italian, and am a frequent visitor in Venice.
My experience of Venice as a 20-year-old took me completely outside of my comfort zone
2. Travel allows you to find things out for yourself
No matter how many travel guides you’ve read or documentaries you’ve watched, nothing beats visiting a country in person.
Before my trip to Mexico, I’d read several stories about many areas being dangerous. And because of the information I’d digested, I began my travels on a slightly apprehensive note. However, when on the road, I soon realized that Mexico wasn’t as bad as all the stories I’d heard.
Of course, no-go areas in the country do exist and travelers should seek proper advice before visiting.
However, exploring the Yucatan (solo) turned out to be the highlight of my Mexico trip. It’s a journey that sits in my top 5 travels and is also one region I’d love to return to.
At the end of the day, stepping outside your comfort zone means finding things out for yourself. Because sometimes, it pays to not believe everything you read about a country.
One of many colorful buildings in Merida, Mexico
“The comfort zone isn’t something you can physically see, but it’s something you 100% feel when it’s happening.”
3. You meet interesting people along the way
I’ve lost count of the number of interesting characters I’ve met on my travels while trekking the globe. If I’d to choose one, it’d be a young guy that worked at the Tugawe Cove Resort in the Philippines.
Jomar is a 21-year-old guy who has a passion for photography and also for re-planting coral on the ocean bed. We met him during our stay at our resort in the remote, yet picturesque, Caramoan Islands.
Jomar taught us a humbling lesson about sustainability, and also about caring for your surrounding environment. Dedicated to his mission, he would spend his spare time replanting coral for his younger siblings to enjoy when older.
While our worlds may be thousands of miles apart, meeting Jomar made me look differently at my own environment.
Traveling outside your comfort zone means visiting some incredible places and meeting some interesting people
4. Learning about cultural norms — travel outside your comfort zone
Whether you realize it or not, travel teaches you plenty about a country’s cultural norms and differences. Take for example our time in Tallinn.
Before crossing the roads, we noticed that everyone waits for the red light, and for the green man to appear. While this may not sound like anything unusual, people in Tallinn wait to cross, even when no cars are passing.
It may be tempting to go when there aren’t any cars, but don’t. Instead, do as the locals do and embrace the cultural norm.
Another example in Tallinn was waiting for the tram. Trams stop in the middle of the street, meaning you have to pass through moving traffic to board.
As the tram comes to a stop, like magic, so too does the stream of vehicles to let passengers pass.
Vehicles halt in a calm and orderly fashion, and passengers aren’t in a panic to board. It was one of the calmest traffic scenes I’d ever seen, and something I’d also not expected before visiting.
Restaurant Stenhus – hotels in Tallinn Old Town
5. You see the world differently
I apologize for opening with a cliché but travel really does change you. Whether you’ve a good, or not so good, experience while traveling, you still return home having learned something.
Driving in Morocco was an experience (bad) unlike any other. It was one filled with several hiccups along the way, largely due to police corruption.
As unpleasant as the experience was, we learned so much on the trip — mainly that we wouldn’t do it again!
A positive experience, on the other hand, was traveling around the Lake District. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most outdoorsy person when I travel. However, being surrounded by such magnificent lakes and nature made me want to get outdoors and explore the area.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much, it also encouraged me to get out more often when I returned home.
How often do you get out of your comfort zone when you travel? Do you like the challenges it presents, or do you need a gentle push to get out there? I’d love to know what you think in the comments below.
Till next time, happy boutique travels x
Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Audley Travel.
Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience, a demographic (late 20s onward) that enjoys glamping over camping and staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels. Flashpackers also like to indulge in the local food and wine, cultural activities, as well as a spot of wellness on their travels. Want to know more? Read on....