Traveling Out of Your Comfort Zone

By Sheryl Kayne/The Immersion Traveler

Woman snowboarding - Traveling Out of Your Comfort ZoneI love the New Year because it gives me a chance to review what’s been going on with me and make some changes. I am not talking about New Year’s Resolutions – I hate them. It actually makes me nauseous that the most popular resolution is to lose weight. I’ve been overweight my whole life, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when I’m ready to commit to an exercise program and eating right, I lose weight. And when I’m not into exercising and eating right, I gain weight. That’s enough attention on that issue.

Nope, I like the New Year because it’s a new opportunity to do things differently than I have before. All of us have something that we won’t do, that might be holding us back in some way, if we want to admit it or not.

I hear women constantly say what they can’t or won’t do, and I want to say, yes you can. Take one thing at a time and stretch past your comfort zone. Once you do something you didn’t know you could, you’re changed.

My aunt won’t go out to eat by herself. Back to that weight issue, my response is, why miss a good mal? When I’m traveling on my own, depending on my budget, I’ll grab something quick or I’ll sit down in a restaurant for a decent feed. One night in a restaurant in Delray Beach, Florida, when I asked for a table for one the hostess asked if I wanted a newspaper. I answered, no, I wanted dinner.
When I’m hungry, if there’s someone else on the same schedule or not, I eat.

My friend Jane won’t travel by herself. My response, I’d much rather go with myself and have a great time than wait around until someone else decides to do what I want to do. Joan won’t drive at night. I was patient and considerate and asked if that was because of impaired night vision.
“No,” she reassured me, “I just don’t like it.”

“When’s the last time you tried driving at night?” I asked. It turned out that she hasn’t driven after sundown since her 33 year old, married daughter graduated from high school. Why limit yourself in any way that you don’t really have to?

I use travel as my metaphor. I am the original immersion traveler – I love going to new places and getting involved, meeting new people, and learning new things. I use travel to open up doors to different parts of myself that I might not otherwise explore. Most of all, travel often takes me out of my comfort zone.

The New Year is the time to make a list of anything I hear myself saying, “I can’t do that.” I admit it, I have a thing about the New York City subway system. It scares me. I won’t go on it all by myself. My daughter figured me out, “To Mom, public transportation means taking a taxicab.”

That was true, until last night. My daughter and I were uptown, she was on her way back to Brooklyn and I needed to get to Grand Central train station.

“So what are you going to do Mom?” she asked with an all-knowing smirk. I decided to surprise her.
“I’m going to ask you for directions and I’m going to take the subway.”

“But you’ll have to change lines,” she gasped.

“I can do it,” I reassured her. “It’s the New Year, time to break out of old ties that bind, and all that stuff.”

“And you’ll have to buy a ticket.”

“I can do it,” I repeated. And I did. For the first time, I rode the subway all by myself, with a few hundred other people I didn’t know. And it was great. I had to change lines, so  I followed the signs and the people, and successfully arrived at my destination in time to catch the train back into the somewhat less complex Connecticut suburbs.

I felt terrific! Then I returned to my New Year’s list to see what my next break through would be.
I had just received a one year old doctor’s bill. It suddenly showed up now, a year late. I hate to research that kind of stuff but I made myself sit down, look up the password to access the website, and research the claim. Sure enough, I owed the money, but I learned how to get into my account, and get something done without stressing over it for another year. Good for me.

What’s on your can’t do list? Turn it into a can do and see how good you feel. Deep down, I know I can do anything, I do it all the time. Which makes it all the easier when I hear that nasty “can’t” word jump out of my mouth to say, “No!” and to write it down, figure it out, and break through. Happy New Year to you and all you can do, need to do, and most of all, want to do.

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Sheryl Kayne is the author of IMMERSION TRAVEL USA: THE BEST & MOST MEANINGFUL VOLUNTEERING, LIVING & LEARNING EXCURSIONS and VOLUNTEER VACATIONS ACROSS AMERICA . Read more about Sheryl at her website: www.immersiontraveler.com