The topic for this week’s Travel Talk on Twitter was “Out of Your Comfort Zone.” I know from experience that when you travel, sooner or later you’re bound to find yourself in a situation that makes you just want to teleport back home to the comfort of your own bed. These situations can be hilarious or harrowing or both, but usually provide for great memories and lessons learned.
There were 2 questions that particularly interested me this week (all the prompts for discussion were great, but for the sake of brevity I limit myself):
2. Share your most memorable “out of your comfort zone” experiences
The majority of responses fell under the categories of animals and transportation. From cockroaches and spiders who decide to spend the night in your hotel room, to surprise meetings with uninvited swimming buddies (jellyfish and sharks to name a few), it’s clear that many travelers are seriously shaken by unplanned animal encounters. I mean, I love Finding Nemo, but would not want it to come to life while I’m diving!
Transportation experiences included crazy cab rides, simple attempts to cross the street turned real-life Frogger by erratic drivers in foreign countries, and subway rides during Tokyo rush hour (video). And there was also a large contingent of travelers who recounted uncomfortable experiences on domestic Greyhound bus trips. I have never been on one of these buses before, but friends have told me they could write a book after only a few hours on a Greyhound.
While these stories were entertaining and brought back many of my own hilarious out-of-comfort-zone memories, there was a wholly different tone to many of the other responses, those related to poverty. I think it is safe to say that the majority of people feel uncomfortable when they witness the realities of abject poverty. When traveling to developing nations it is common to come across people living in squalor and it’s not always clear how to react. In the moment you feel not only uncomfortable, but also guilty, sad, and overwhelmed by a flood of emotions. However, no matter how far out of our comfort zones we find ourselves when confronted with poverty, it opens our eyes to the world we live in and hopefully causes us to think and reflect. Which brings me to the next question:
5. How has being pushed out of your comfort zone changed you and your views on the world?
Many people cited a greater appreciation for the everyday things they often take for granted. Other common responses were that it made them aware of similarities between people around the world, it made them wiser, and it gave them confidence.
So while stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary, I encourage you to jump off that cliff, figuratively or literally! You’ll be surprised to find that a fear of the unknown is often unjustified. And for the truly frightening and challenging situations, the things you’ll learn and the memories you’ll have after going through the experience make it all worthwhile. Who knows – you may discover a new hobby, or better yet, something new about yourself!
Doing things out of my comfort zone has not only made me more appreciative of all that I have, but has ignited my passion for travel and sparked my curiosity of the world.
I would love to hear about your “out of comfort zone” experiences and what they taught you, so please leave a comment below.