We usually learn the greatest lessons in life by taking risks and stepping outside of our comfort zones. These tips will help teach you that you can’t change the people you meet, the places you go, or everything else in between, but you can change the way that you respond to and deal with different things and situations, especially when traveling. Making these changes will not only give you the confidence, but also the power to accept and engage anywhere that you go in this wonderfully diverse world.
It takes a lot of guts to make the decision to travel somewhere new, so taking that first step forward can be a little bit nerve-wracking. You might find yourself second-guessing your decision or getting a little bit worried not long before your trip. This is perfectly normal. Maybe your friends are all staying home to do something and you want to stay home so that you can hang out with them more. This is definitely not a good excuse to bail on your travel plans! You will have other opportunities to see your friends, but you might not get another opportunity to scuba dive or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef or swim in the famous Krka Waterfalls. Your friends will wish that they came with you (and maybe next time they will after hearing your amazing stories!).
Do what you want to do regardless of what others expect you to do. This is your trip and your time to make your travel dreams a reality! Sure, if you’re in Paris you will most likely go up the Eiffel Tower, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also do something off the beaten path like go on a bike tour of the Marais or have a traditional Parisian style picnic on the banks of the River Seine. Maybe you are super into Lord of the Rings and want to go on an authentic LOTR tour to see firsthand everywhere that the movies were filmed while you’re in New Zealand. You might be surprised by how many other people want to do the same sort of stuff but are simply too shy to ask.
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Whether that means expressing that you want to do (or not do) something or finding the courage to ask a local if they can recommend a good café, never be too shy to speak up. You might have never found your new favorite café if you hadn’t! This can be totally nerve-wracking for many of us, but that’s also why this is a big part of stepping out of your comfort zone! While it might not seem like it, all of us go through that first “hold your breath” moment when speaking up, whether it’s in a foreign language class or asking for directions in Old Town Edinburgh, we’ve all been there at some time or another.
My grandmother told my mother who then told me, “You’d be lucky if people paid half as much attention to you as you think they do,” and that is oh, so true! Don’t waste your time worrying about what other people are thinking about you, whether it’s other people on your trip or complete strangers. You do you! Be whacky or silly or weird. Eat what you want to eat, even if other people think you’re crazy for trying it (ahem, blood pudding)! Rock that TFT shirt when you step off the plane in a foreign country! Become a part of an awesome teen traveling team! Hug, high-five, laugh, love, cry, and appreciate all that life has to offer you when you travel this wonderful, expansive world that we all get to call home.
Taking every opportunity that you can to step outside of your comfort zone while traveling will not only enhance your travel experience, but it will help you grow as a person, both at home and abroad. Find what speaks to you and don’t hold back. If you want to go all out and push yourself way beyond your comfort zone but none of your friends want to go with you, so what? Go where you want to go, do what you want to do, say what you need to say, be who you truly are so that you can continue to grow into the person you want to be!