Because Miro and I are currently focused on our Project World School retreat during July & August, we’ve gathered up several wonderful guest posts for you for this month. When Drew from the Hungry Partier blog connected with us, interested in writing a guest post for us, we were a little curious. He, after all, was a 20-something-single-backpacker type and I wondered what he could share with our audience that would be relevant.
He wrote us a post about precisely the very thing we talk much of the time, stepping out of your comfort zone and not succumbing to fear. I love Drew’s perspective on life through his experiences traveling and his insight is quite spot on. After all, my hope for my very own teenage son is to step out of his comfort zone and explore the world on his own too some day.
Stepping out my comfort zone is my #1 motivator to travel the world.
Just by adventuring around in a foreign country, I am thrown into unfamiliar places where I must make adjustments to the new culture adapt to new customs. Essentially, I am a visitor in someone else’s backyard.
Everyday while on the road, there are several circumstances where I need to step out of my comfort zone. This is perhaps the most fun part about traveling, and it is what keeps me hungry to try new things!
So, what exactly do I mean by stepping out of my comfort zone? It can take on several meanings for different people, but in my mind, it means the following:
- asking random people on the street for directions
- trying a crazy foreign food
- making friends with the locals
- taking public transportation when nobody speaks English
- talking to a girl in a bar who doesn’t speak English
- doing an extreme sport like bungee jumping
Basically, I try to take on any opportunity that I see, whether it be fun, crazy, exciting, or all of the above.
When you really think about it, it’s highly unlikely that you will see any of the people again that you meet in foreign countries, so you can be whomever you want to me. That’s the exact mentality that I live by.
Stepping out of my comfort zone has led me to create incredible and unforgettable experiences abroad. I can’t even describe how thrilling it was to go bungee jumping in Switzerland, to meet that random stranger who didn’t speak a lick of English in Vietnam, and to go cliff jumping in Greece.
So, how can families apply these lessons of stepping out of their comfort zone while on the road?
Especially if you are traveling with kids, there are lots of things that you can do which will be new and exciting experiences. The main thing that comes to mind is trying as many local dishes as you can. Eating local foods is not only a way to eat some of most delicious cuisines around, but is also teaches you something about the culture! Dining at a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant, where no one inside speaks English and there is an old man cooking you the same recipe that he’s been using for 60 years, is an experience of a lifetime. And even if you don’t like the food, at least you get the “local” experience!
Lastly, I would like to share a quick story from when I stepped out of my zone in Istanbul…
My friends and I were roaming around the streets sometime in the summer of 2012. We saw a sign for a “Turkish Bath” so we thought, “what the heck, lets check it out!” Well, we weren’t exactly sure what we were in for. Long story short, we were told to strip down fully nude and walk into a large sauna where we got intensely scrubbed down by these old, hairy Turkish men who spoke zero English. They stretched out every muscle in my body while pouring buckets of freezing cold, soapy water on my head. I remember looking at my friend and saying “What in the world are we doing right now?!”
Overall, it was a hilarious and amazing experience. Now, I can proudly share my story, look back and have a great laugh. But I am only able to share this story because my friends and I decided to step out of our comfort zone and try something new!
I hope you will do the same on the road 🙂
Bio: Drew is a recent college graduate who has visited 43 countries since the beginning of 2012. His favorite things about traveling are eating the local foods, meeting awesome people and experiencing the nightlife scene. Drew is currently teaching English in South Korea and he blogs about food, culture and nightlife at the Hungry Partier.
Twitter – @Drewbinsky7