Traveler's Test

How to travel out of your comfort zone (and what it really means)

How to travel out of your comfort zone (and what it really means)

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The challenge: do at least one of these things to get out of your comfort zone on your next trip

There’s a lot of talk about the ubiquitous comfort zone and everyone’s efforts to escape from it, as if it’s Hell on Earth. But what does it really mean, and how can you turn that vague goal into specific actions?

First of all, getting out of your comfort zone has two distinct characteristics:

  1. If you don’t want to do it, it is definitely out of your comfort zone and you should do it.
  2. Often, the things that get you out of your comfort zone aren’t blissful and pleasurable at all while you are doing them. Some of them really suck. When time passes and your brain ‘polishes’ the memories, some of them may start to look like adventures, while others will always remain cringe-infusing images in your mind. In both cases, you will have cool stories to tell around the fire.

So, why is it so hard to get out of your comfort zone?

Making yourself do something that you don’t want to do is always hard. But it’s not impossible. You can make it a bit easier when you remind yourself that pushing your boundaries will ultimately bring you great happiness. According to an article in Psychology Today, happiness is maximized when you confront a crisis with grace.

Additionally, studies prove that it’s easier to step beyond your normal self when you have your more adventurous friends around. Their readiness to take risks can be contagious.

5 simple ways to get out of your comfort zone while you are traveling:

  1. Eat something you wouldn’t normally eat. Don’t just stick to things that look delicious; at least once per trip, you should eat something that provokes thoughts in your head like “oh my, I would never ever put this into my mouth”. You may not like it, but you should at least try it.
  2. Go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. You hate museums? Visit at least one and make a genuine effort to find something enjoyable about the experience. Galleries? Make them interesting by getting this free app, which will tell you the story of every painting and naked ancient Greek sculpture. Don’t like baking on the beach? Go with a friend and ask them to help you make it fun (by trying water sports, boating, SUP…).
  3. Haggle. Haggling at exotic markets can always go in a totally unexpected direction. No matter what happens, the experience will keep you alert and thinking of ways to win the battle of wills.
  4. Swap your playlist for local music. You can listen to the latest Taylor Swift hit whenever you wish, but when you are abroad, mute Look what you made me do and try a local radio station to get a sense of what people listen to where you are. Ask around to find a local band/artist to add to your favorites. If you start every day of your trip with the same song, you will actually create longer-lasting memories.
  5. Meet locals. If you are not particularly sociable, try to talk more with the receptionist at your hotel or ask a few personal questions to your tourist guide (like do they have a family? In what part of the city do they live? Is it a considered a good or a bad area? What do they do in their free time?). The deeper you delve into the lives of others, the greater the possibility that you’ll receive an unexpected offer that will take you somewhere unknown – and that’s an adventure in itself!

Pin it or save it for later, because you never know when you will want to break out of your comfort zone: