Travel undoubtedly will bring you out of your comfort zone in more ways than one, and I think that this is one of the top reasons why a lot of people love to travel, including yours truly. Getting out of you comfort zone while you’re traveling is not always cute, easy, or the pretty quote caption beneath a picture of you looking out onto the sea. It is acting like a fool trying to get over the language barrier while talking to a local, it’s walking up and down the same street looking for a literal hole in the wall cafe you “swear is on this street.” It’s moments where you constantly laugh at your mistakes, learn from them, and all your senses are heightened trying to figure out life on that side of the world.
The other day I was reflecting on what I could share this week with you all, and I started to randomly remember the time that I spent Easter in Athens and how I spent the day enjoying Greek food, a view of Athens and the Acropolis from our hostel rooftop, approaching other travelers, and sharing travel stories. One of my favorite travel memories to date. That day I learned the importance of getting out of my own head and finally just approaching people I wanted to talk to.
Before traveling, I was really quiet, a complete introvert, and I usually waited for people to talk to me, to approach me. I have experienced this feeling a bit when I traveled to Mexico in my earlier memories to visit family, and I thought that a word to describe it could be magical. When you travel, there just seems to be this kind of magic in the air that inspires you to take action, and do something that you normally wouldn’t at home. It may be the new surrounding, the people you’re around, the atmosphere, the excitement of being there, the weather, etc. It could be all that and more, and for me, it allowed me to get out of my comfort zone. I was hooked, and I was curious since my beginning travel memories to catch more of that “magic” and carry it with my everywhere I went.
So, below, I would like to share with you all ways in which travel has brought me out of my comfort zone, and how incredibly grateful I am for having had these experiences. I hope that you’ll read this and understand that it’s not as scary as you may think to do things you wouldn’t normally do at home, that it’s ok to approach people, that it’s ok to ask questions and make a fool out of yourself. The abundant growth that will come out of it will always outweigh the initial nerves. So without further ado, here are the 4 ways travel brought me out of my comfort zone.
Speaking for myself
When you travel and you got questions, you have to be the one to ask them. Long are the days when you think that relying on others to ask your questions for you will be a smart plan to understand what you need know, when you need to know it. When I was in Greece, I was not at all talkative, or someone bold enough to ask a question when I was confused about something.
This was my first time ever in Europe, without my family or friends, I knew no one in my study abroad group like that, so for the first couple of week I really felt like I was on my own interestingly enough. So when I was unclear about something, beforehand, I was usually that person to either wait for someone to ask my question, ask my friends, or wing it. Yup. So traveling really brought me out of my comfort zone when I was faced with a PLETHORA of questions, especially when living in a foreign country.
I think it was during orientation when I had a question about flights and traveling together, I really wanted to know something related to purchasing our flights and I saw that no one was asking it (even though I knew they were also wondering). So, kind of against my nervousness (lol) I decided to ask my question in front of everyone. This was a huge deal for me, and once I did that, everyone looked around and agreed that they were also wondering (looks like I wasn’t the only one with this issue). And that was it. Nothing bad happened.
When we were all in Greece, I was faced with many more situations where I had to speak for myself, ask questions I had, address concern, etc. and guess what? I was fine! So note to self and others in a similar position, speak for yourself, don’t wait on others to ask your questions. No question is dumb if it’s a genuine concern or doubt you have. Asking and speaking for yourself will set you even more free while you’re traveling. You will gain the confidence in yourself to go mostly anywhere on your own and ask questions if need be. You don’t have to depend on anyone, and that is extremely freeing.
Talking to strangers
Asking directions or overhearing someone speak in your language are all prompts and invitations from the universe to go talk to people. Even though you should already be doing this while you’re traveling, listen to conversations and be observant; what are people doing? What are they wearing? What are they laughing at? Where are people walking to? Go with the flow, look at what’s happening, and pay attention. You’ll come to find that you will see someone that catches your attention as someone you’d like to approach or ask a question to.
When I was studying abroad in Greece, during Easter break, our hostel was hosting a traditional Greek feast (they do it big over there) and my study abroad group and I went. As I was literally walking onto the roof top, I couldn’t help but overhear someone speak in Spanish. Ahh my dear Spanish it has been a while. It was the first time I had heard another Spanish speaker since being in Greece, and it made me kinda sort of excited.
It made me so happy, I did something I had never done before. I went up to them (it was a group) of Spanish guys and I just said Hi! You guys speak Spanish too?? *in Spanish obviously, but you get the point. That was all I had to do and say because for the rest of the afternoon and evening, I had basically made friends with them. All of a sudden, we were all enjoying a Greek feast as we looked at the Acropolis from the roof of our hostel as we talked about our love for travel and Athens. Moral of the story, travelers are nice people, approachable, and also wanting to talk to you as much as you want to talk to them. So go talk to them! Talk to anyone that you want! You never know the friendship, connection, and joy that will come on the other side of taking that initial step. People are nicer than you think 🙂
Having to depend on myself
Things like taking the metro around a foreign city, looking up and following directions to a new restaurant in a different neighborhood, or taking a day trip somewhere nearby are all things that require having trust in yourself. Trust in yourself to understand Google maps, trusting that you are ok with sometimes being ok with your own company, and trusting that no matter what, you are willing to go into little tea shops and ask store owners where the nearest bus station is. Sometimes when you are put in situations where you have to manage by yourself or you are with someone else who is dependent on you to help them around, you have to trust yourself to be able to make it work. Whatever it is that you’re doing.
For me, it was situations like depending on myself on how to get home after a night out on my own, or being my mom and sisters tour guide of Madrid when they came to visit me, and so much more. Things like these really helped me get out of my comfort zone real quick, and after doing that, let me tell you, I never wanted to go back inside. Taking opportunities to do things will build up your courage and confidence to do things. That will all equal to having more trust in yourself and your abilities to do things like travel and be someone’s tour guide of a city that you didn’t grow up in. I can do this now, and I believe you can too.
Not caring what other people think
Y’all, when a pair of shoes at Zara would cost you more than a EasyJet flight from Madrid to Paris, you take that deal and GO. As someone who loves to travel, when I was living in Madrid, almost everyday I checked sites like Skyscanner or the other European budget airlines to find where the deals where. I was living in Europe, I was going to be taking advantage of the incredible flight prices.
I can honestly say that with all sincerity, the ridiculous prices I found for some of my destinations were too good to pass up. Of course, they came at a cost, but that was fine with me as long as it wasn’t monetary! Suddenly I was waking up 39458 hours before my flight, taking a bus, a train and a long metro ride to the airport, and doing other extreme things that I normally wouldn’t at home because Paris. Suddenly I was out of my comfort zone spending nights at the airport to ensure that I was front and center for my 4am flight, taking taxis late at night to my airbnb from the airport, and asking other passengers for gate information. I was doing all these things that only added more to my trip, and I was livingggg. And when you’re livingggg aka – doing things without caring what others think, you’re free.
I wasn’t the only doing it, and even if I was, I learned not to care and to only focus on what I was doing. I was only going to freakin’ Paris for 20 euros! Also, carrying this mentality with me has been one of the best things that I have learned abroad and practice everyday. I am truer to myself, my goals and what I want out of life. Some may agree, some may not, but I am happy nonetheless 🙂 it’s harder these days to make me feel bad or second guess a decision I firmly believe in, and that wasn’t something I could have said in my teens and early twenties.
I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, but honestly, it’s not the most terrible thing that can happen to you. Knowing your way around a city is obviously handy and all, but it’ll never challenge you. Getting lost is a way that you can exercise your brain, turn on all your senses, and work towards the goal of getting to where you need to be from that point. Along the way, you learn new streets, new corners of the city, new cafes and shops and before you know it, you just found an alternate and cooler route to the places you frequent and/or wanted to visit!
Especially nowadays with Google maps, it’s easy to find your way around but sometimes, it’s also true that you can easily get led a different direction. Don’t freak out, and instead take it as an opportunity to explore wherever you may be, and know that you’ve just found a cool spot to hang out at and explore more. Honestly, I love getting lost because I love me a good challenge, and I love exploring different streets. Nothing gets the adrenaline pumpin’ like this, and again, it just makes me feel alive. Try it one day and feel this feeling. As crazy or weird as it sounds, you’ll know when you find your way back. Trust me on this.
So, what about it, right? What’s the grand point of this post and what can it do for you? Well, I think that my biggest take away that I would like to share is that when you travel, you have to put yourself in situations that you possibly have never been in. You have to make greater efforts to do daily things: order a coffee, grab a taxi, order at a restaurant, get around a city, manage your money, etc. and this is because you’re not in your usual settings. You get to see just how you can work under different norms, expectations, existing in other people’s cities, with different food and eating times, and customs, and language, and climate, and lifestyle.
Because of all of this, you will fail, you will mess up, you might even offend people (unintentionally) but it may happen, there will be miscommunication, and basically everything that you knew how to do gets rearranged when you travel, and it’s like you go back to being a young child learning about how the world works, and it’s amazing because THIS is living and learning at it’s finest. It’s refreshing. It’s life. How stale would life be like if we always knew how things worked, and nothing changed or challenged what we knew. Boooring. at least to me.
So the next time you travel, don’t worry about what others are doing or about who is looking at you following a map on your phone. You do you. That’s what travel has taught me. Just be you, don’t mind what others are doing and you keep living your life. Laugh at yourself. Free yourself. Be yourself wherever you are.
What about you!? What are some ways that travel has gotten you out of your comfort zone? Do some of these resonate with you?? I’d love to know your thoughts, so let me know in the comments below what else you’d like to see from me!