Having a comfort zone while travelling

One of the best things I like about travelling is the change in your mindset. You get to leave all the boring stuff of your regular life behind you and there are all new sorts of things to be explored and experienced. I am not talking about a luxury resort or any of those sorts. I’m talking about getting out of your comfort zone. Doing things you are not used to. It’s new. It’s exciting. It’s adventure.

When I stay at one place for more than one month I tend to build up a comfort zone with more luxuries in it. Think about the small things: having a 2 person bed, always having food in the house and having the possibility to take a hot shower whenever you want to.

This isn’t bad, you need it sometimes. But staying in your comfort zone too long isn’t good either. I experience that when I’m in a there for too long I build a wall of comfort around me. Why explore this city when I can lie in bed watching my favorite series on my flatscreen? Why go to a restaurant and eat the local food when I have pizza in my fridge? This comfort stops me from doing the things in life that are hardest to do, but in the end pay off the most.

A bit of a cheesy example but this is more or less how life works.

It’s a small example but still: last month I was in Barcelona and I was horribly lost. I walked around for too long in a direction of which I guessed was the Sagrada Familia. Was I wrong! I got completely lost. I had no clue about where the Sagrada Familia was, let alone the way back home. What I should have done is ask people the way, since that would have been the fastest way to solve my problem. Instead I just wandered around for a long time until eventually I found a place I recognized. I took the easy road; I solved the problem without leaving my comfort zone. This is because the need to leave my comfort zone wasn’t there. I knew I probably eventually would find my way back home, and that I had a roof over my head tonight.

When I travel I don’t plan every detail before leaving, usually I just play along with what life has in store for me. When I would have been new to Barcelona and looking for a place to sleep for the night the need to ask a complete stranger where to go would have been way higher. The need to leave your comfort zone is there again. It’s ok to take more risks, because in the end you will find out that its these risks (and the completion of them) that make travel with no real plan the most fun. I always get a real good rewarding feeling when at the end of the day everything worked out just fine.

When you travel with just a general plan (as in: “I’m going to Paris next week and I’ll see what happens”) I believe that it all comes down to the basics again. It’s survival. You need food, drinks and a place to sleep, that’s it! These are the highest items on your priority list. All the other luxuries you actually don’t need. They are nice to have if the opportunity to have them is there, but you don’t actually need them to survive. Now ‘survive’ sounds a bit harsh (we don’t live in the Stone Age anymore) but the adventure in not knowing what is coming next is back, and you are completely out of your comfort zone again. And that is exactly the place where you will learn the most.

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