Travel gives us the opportunity for adventure and the chance to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone to experience personal growth that can last a lifetime.
People who are willing to take risks and try something new reap bigger rewards. So if you're travelling abroad this summer, you might get the most from your trip if you venture outside the bubble of what you usually find comfortable. And when you do, what you learn there could enhance your life in ways you'd never dreamed of.
If you're visiting an exotic destination, it might feel scary to approach a local and strike up a conversation. Perhaps you feel a bit anxious because you can't speak their language, or you're worried because they seem a little bit different and that makes you feel uncomforable. But what if you pushed past that initial feeling of discomfort and had a go at connecting with someone new - where could that lead?
Well, perhaps you'd learn where the hottest spot to eat is that only the locals know about, or you'd end up with an invite to their family home and get a first-hand experience of their traditions and hospitality. Or you might be lucky enough to find a guide to take you through the city off the well-beaten tourist path, to the treasures that don't appear in any guidebook. You might make a friend for life. There are endless possibilities that could come out of that simple interaction.
Another way to step out of your comfort zone might be to try something new off the menu. Most fears of food are due to lack of experience. I might not have enjoyed the raw sea urchin a local diver in the South Pacific brought me up from the sea floor on a trip a few years back. The next day, however, I discovered that fish intestines fried with a squeeze of lemon are delicious!
And then, when you return home, you can use the progress you've made in stretching those boundaries, to work out how your new thoughts and feelings fit in to your old life. Remember that striving to go beyond your comfort zone will usually bring something beneficial, as you open up to making new connections with people, trying new things, and saying 'yes!' more.
Those people who thrive on seeking out fresh experiences are often more creative and emotionally resilient than those that remain stuck in their usual routine of life. They have learned that by getting comfortable with trying new things, the more likely they are to embrace new challenges and chances to grow personally.
Because the alternative is to stay in a state of protection, where you play it small, stay safe, keep your boundaries close and your world small. And that can seem very tempting, because our subconscious likes to feel comfortable, it likes what it knows. It sees dangers lurking in the unknown. The things is though, those dangers aren't usually there at all, you've just imagined them.
You never know what you can do until you try it. Travelling gives you the chance to try something new with every new place you visit. As you conquer your fears about what you thought you couldn't do, you'll learn new things about what you are capable of and your confidence will rise. And once you stretch the boundaries of what you thought was possible, they never go back.
Benefits of breaking out of your bubble while on holiday
Make new friends
Learn about new cultures
Discover things you thought you couldn't do
Personal growth through new experiences
How to step out of your comfort zone on holiday
Travel without an itinerary. If you're a perfectionist and a planner, take the opportunity to learn that you can be spontaneous, that it's not going to be dangerous to not know what the next step is. Losing yourself is part of the adventure!
Travel alone. If you lack confidence in yourself, travelling solo is an incredible boost. You meet more new people than when you're in a group, and you learn that you, alone, are more capable than you ever realised.
Connect with locals. Be curious about their customs, food and culture. You never know where it might lead, and you'll come back with tales to tell and improved communication skills.
Take a walk. Instead of hopping on a bus or taking a taxi, walking will reveal those little out-of-the-way tucked-down-a-side-road gems that you'd have missed otherwise.
Forgo some comforts. We are all used to hot showers, comfortable beds, and TV-on-demand. When you travel, these sometimes aren't available to you, but you soon learn to be less reliant on them than you are at home.
Still too scared? Try this.
Spend ten minutes each day visualising what it feels like to have already done that thing that's scaring you. Imagine how it feels to have completed it, hear what other people say to you about it, see the results of having risen to the challenge. Show your brain a video of you having survived the thing it thinks is too scary for you to do, and show it the rewards of doing it, so that it can help to drive you towards it rather than away from it.
Turning fear into Excitement
You know those feelings you get when your subconscious is trying to protect you and stop you from doing something a little bit scary: The butterflies in your stomach, increase in heart rate, the shortness of breath? Don't you remember getting those just before something really exciting was going to happen too? Perhaps you can remember waiting for your first date with your partner, or going on holiday as a kid. You labelled those same feelings as excitement then - so what might happen if instead of labelling them as fear now, you chose to interpret them as anticipation of something good, what might you be able to achieve then?