Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone When Traveling
You surely love your comfort zone. Right? After all, it is familiar and predictable and makes you feel safe and secure. It is a healthy adaptation of your life, for you know what is your risk tolerance and what is non-negotiable for you. I’d say that it is a dangerous place as well, for it stops you from growth and newer experiences. In fact, it is a self-created prison which has walls made up of can’ts, shouldn’ts, negative self-talks and rigid thoughts and ideas.
Should you stay safely in this prison? The answer is a big No.
They say that you must live your life to the fullest and that means you must experience and explore unknown territories, both outside and inside of yourself. You should strive for more, you should step outside your comfort zone. Now, all that sounds good, but how do you do that?
Well, I believe that traveling is the best way to leave your comfort zone.
Over the last two decades, I have traveled a lot. A large part of it is due to work. For those of you who don’t know me, I’d like to share that I was an introvert and had huge mental blocks in doing anything out of routine. But extensive traveling has made me step out of my comfort zone and turned me into an outgoing introvert or an ambivert.
Stepping out of comfort zone does not mean that you must jump off a cliff or swim in a river with crocodiles, unless you want to, of course. It could be as simple as going on a solo trip or eating alone in a fancy restaurant or staying in a camping site.
Here are a few ways in which traveling expanded my comfort zone, forever.
- I can talk to people. For a shy person like me, interaction with people was an anxiety-filled experience and I avoided talking to strangers, completely. But when I started traveling for work and that too alone, I realized that keeping quiet did not help me in any way. If I needed directions, I had to ask someone. If I had talkative co-passengers, I couldn’t bury my nose in a book or use an eye mask, forever. It started with small chats and soon I realized that talking to strangers wasn’t all that difficult, in fact, some of my best chats have been with strangers which I remember with a fond smile, always.
- I can eat anything. I am that person, who orders masala dosa after scanning the menu from the first to the last page, every single time. Also, I am paranoid about hygiene and cleanliness. Few years ago, when I went to Kuwait, we were invited by our local hosts for dinner. They had prepared a lavish meal comprising of ducks, crabs and prawns. I am a non-vegetarian but restrict myself only to the chicken and mutton. The spread was certainly not in my comfort zone, but I ate all that was served that day. And then even tried beef and camel’s meat at a restaurant. I draw the line at some things and some places, but by and large, I eat whatever is available now.
- I can live without the comforts of home. Usually, I get to stay at star hotels but there have been times when I have stayed in a basic camp which had a bed, a small table, a very small mirror, a chair, 2 candles and a match box. Yes, you got it right, no electricity!! It was my home for a week. While this was ok, it was the dry-pit toilet that was challenging. Dry-pits are eco-friendly, no fuss toilets. There is a hole in the ground with a western style wooden “thunder box” placed over the hole. No squatting required!! You’d like to thank the inventor for this one!! The back of this “thunder box” is open so that it is easy to scoop in sand and lime from the back for covering up. A scoop is provided for this purpose. Toilet paper is provided too!! Thank God for small mercies! While I dilly dallied for a while, but could I survive without using the dry-pit toilets?
My travel experiences have made me stretch my personal boundaries. I am open to doing things I never would have imagined. The resultant experiences were uncomfortable initially but have been fantastic and memorable. They also helped me to learn what I am capable of and changed my perspective on a lot many things and made me a more confident version of myself.
What about you? How do you travel outside your comfort zone? What lessons can you share with us?