Comfort Zone: Family Travel OUT of the zone

Comfort zone: Should your family vacation be inside or outside the zone?

The Educational Tourist with a snake charmer in Morocco, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

Family vacations are wonderful opportunities to stretch out of your comfort zone with new experiences. Sometimes holidays allow us to:

*throw caution to the wind

*become a temporary local

*make the most of opportunities

*bond with family over shared experiences

Sure you CAN!!! But….should you?

The scientists in all the Jurassic park movies learned a valuable lesson when they brought to life extinct dinosaurs, put them in a theme park …. only to have them escape and eat people. Lesson learned? Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. LOL!

Tips for Traveling Outside of Your Comfort Zone With the Family and Kids

Everyone has their own need for adrenaline and tolerance for panic. Some people happily jump out of perfectly functionally airplanes on purpose while others can barely manage the little kids’ version of a roller coaster at the local carnival.

My need for adrenaline is very, very low. I’m terrified just thinking about roller coasters! As a matter of fact….if you look carefully at this photo you will NOT see me. I too that photo of my brave family from a safe solid spot on the ground. *** In honest disclosure..this is their second ride. I was on the first one – crying and screaming my head off- thinking surely I was going to die. LOL! I’m a scaredy cat – and I KNEW I would hate the roller coaster. So, why did I ride it once anyway?

Water roller coaster, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

But, it is really important to TRY to get outside your comfort zone? Why? Because the kids are watching! I took my kids to feed the stingrays at a water park in Texas. The wade in pond was full of young children and their parents enjoying the experience! The sting rays are REALLY used to people and know they will get treats so they come right up to you and sometimes ‘climb’ you in their excitement. The kids loved it. Even my young nephews loved it!! But, Chicken Aunt Natalie pretty much freaked out when the stingrays came around. I kept wading in the water and rushing back out. In the end…I did not get comfortable with the slimy critters swimming all around me, BUT I tried. You never know for sure about an experience if you don’t try and that is really good advice to tell kids and to model!

Girl feeding stingrays in wading pond, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

Comfort zone choices: Safety first!

Use the same rules for safety that you would at home. Injuries can happen anywhere – in your own backyard and on a fun vacation.

*Zip-line with all the safety gear? You bet! Line the kid up and take off!

The Educational Tourist ready to zip line at Cape Enrage in Canada, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

*Hire an ATV without a roll bar or helmets? NO way! Discuss how fragile a head really is – learning opportunity for the children.

*Ride a camel in Morocco? YES! Climb on and hold on!

*Rent a scooter or motorcycle to tour the city – though you have no experience, training, or safety gear? OMG – NO! Motorcycle safety is SO important. Always wear helmets!

Helmets for zip lining, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

*Snorkel with guides and safety equipment? – YES! I’m personally terrified of the water and sharks, but if this is your thing go for it! I love the photos!

*Renting bicycles or Segways with helmets? – YES! Our family had a Segway adventure and it is fun. Wear good shoes because standing in one spot on the stand makes tootsie’s sore!

The Educational Tourist in Austin riding a segway with children, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

*Hiking? – YES! Hiking is a great way to talk and have wonderful conversations while getting some fresh air and exploring. Have the kids wear good shoes! We love low hiking shoes.

hiking children, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

Don’t fib or stretch the truth in order to participate. If a kiddo isn’t quite old enough or tall enough, the answer should be no. Safety guidelines and rules are made for a reason.

Case in point: I once had a very, very long ride on a parasail that was pulled behind a boat while vacationing as a teenager. (In those days safety wasn’t really king….perhaps just a Duke or Earl) It wasn’t until I was on the ground that I learned from my panicky parents that they were having trouble getting me back down because I wasn’t quite heavy enough for the ride. Yikes!

Comfort Zone choices: Stop and think.

Can you and those in your party really handle this experience? Could you get hurt? Do the potential benefits outweigh the potential problems?

For example, and if you are under 30 this might not apply to you, but those of us who only pretend to be 29 πŸ˜‰ but haven’t really seen 29 in 20 years need to consider getting hurt. I’m not talking about major hurt like broken bones or stuff, but even ‘minor’ hurts can ruin or put a serious damper on a vacation.

Take bungee jumping – Β The numbers indicate that this is a safe sport – which means very few people die from bungee jumping. But think for a minute about what happens when the rope becomes taut after you jump….I think you end up taller after everything is stretched out so quickly!!! I’m pretty sure I would hurt for a month of Sundays after that so even if I was brave enough to jump off a bridge (or crazy enough? LOL!) it is not a good idea for me!

Comfort Zone choices: Know your family, children, and travel companions.

Just like you would choose one sight or country over another based on the interests of your party, you should also choose experiences the same way. If you have an adrenaline junkie in the party – cliff diving or scuba diving in a shark cave might be great choices! If you have relaxed foodies in your group, a wine and cheese tasting river cruise would be enjoyed. Wonder if you are an adrenaline junkie? Take the self test here.

In the lovely area of Cappadocia, early morning balloon rides area are a ‘must do’ in all the travel guides. On a recent trip we decided against this experience. We are all of the right age to go so why did we say no? We have a wiggly 9 year old boy who fears little, including running up to the edge of anything tall and peering over. He is not afraid but we are! Without straps of any kind in the balloons we decided against it – for this trip, at this time. Our worry about him getting too close to the edge would have ruined the experience for us and if you are only going to worry, why bother? Cappadocia will always have lovely balloon rides and this gives us a reason to go back. Though if you have visited you will know there are so many reasons to go back because it is an amazing place!

colorful hot air balloons, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

Comfort Zone choices: What about ‘touristy’ stuff?

I don’t know why the word ‘touristy’ currently has a bad rap. According to the dictionary, tourist means: a person traveling, especially for pleasure. So, if you are visiting another country with the sole purpose of looking around for fun, then you are technically a tourist. (Read about the tourist vs traveler debate here) and touristy stuff is there just for you as a way to experience a safe (though usually watered down) version of a local custom. It is true that the experience isn’t 100% the authentic real deal, but that can be OK.

In Turkey we visited a hammam – the whole family. Visiting the bathhouse is a centuries old tradition. In early times before social media and indoor plumbing it was an important part of life – a place for people to visit with friends, relax, and get clean. At one point in history the law actually required a husband to pay for his wife to visit the hammam at least three times a week or she could divorce him!

Hammam in Istanbul, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

Now an authentic 100% real deal Turkish hammam visit includes what the locals call a ‘bone crushing’ massage. We asked a local guide if they basically ‘beat on you’ and he shrugged and said, “Yes, of course.” Now I don’t know about you, but a bone crushing beating isn’t on my bucket list – even as a part of a fantastic Turkish adventure. LOL! So, in this case my daughter and I were very happy with what the hammam staff called a ‘soft massage’ Β which was clearly a tourist version of the real deal. You can read all about our hammam experience here.

How was it? In a word – AWESOME!

The Educational Tourist at a hammam in Goereme, Turkey, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

In spite of experiencing ‘only’ theΒ tourist version of the massage we:

*visited a 300 year old hammam

*had a facial with the same local clay used for those 300 years

*experienced a bubble massage (just watching them quickly create a mountain of bubbles was worth the visit alone!)

*bonded over a really interesting, fun, and clean experience (not unlike our own mani/pedi bonding times) like the generations of Turkish moms and daughters before us

The Educational Tourist in Tortola, British Virgin Islands

When in Rome, do as the Romans do!

BUT if that is painful, scary, or uncomfortable then embrace the tourist experience for a taste of the local culture.

Happy SAFE family travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

The Educational Tourist logo, Travel outside your comfort zone, www.theeducationaltourist.com

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27 Responses

  1. ahaha unfortunately I have always been and probably will always be a bit of a wild child….and so..the para-sail experience sounds like a good story to me…ahaha those are always my favorites

    • NatalieTanner says:

      As long as you live to tell the story, right? LOL!! What is something you have tried outside your comfort zone? Dare I ask the wild child??? LOL!

  2. karla says:

    I love how you encourage people to travel outside of their comfort zone.

    I like the part where you debate about which to do and which not to do. If you travel in Asia I bet you’ll question a lot of those YES and NOs but ultimately, it’s best to try out new things but also check for your safety! πŸ™‚

  3. Love this post! I think it can be so tempting to just leap outside of your comfort zone on vacation but that’s not always the safe thing to do! My sister lives in Haiti and although the main mode of transportation there are motos it would be really unsafe for me to drive one because driving there is sooo different than here in the states! So even though I want to experience the cultural, it’s probably not a wise thing for me to do!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I appreciate you stopping by! Good thinking! We have to keep our smarts about us even during wonderful adventures!! A visit to Haiti sounds really interesting. What was your favorite part?

  4. As someone who is still convinced that they are 29 (or younger?!) I loved this post! I think it’s easy to throw caution to the wind when travelling but when you stop and think ‘would I really go bungee jumping on this too-short bridge with this too-long piece of rope if I was back home’ and the answer is no, then it should be ‘no’ when you’re travelling too πŸ™‚

  5. lesleycarter says:

    When I first started reading this post, I was like “whatever. Just do it!” Then as I read more, I found myself totally agreeing with your points like “Hire an ATV without a roll bar or helmets. No Way” That one especially got me. I still push the limits but I do consider the consequences and question the safety.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      LOl! I have experiences like that all the time where I start off reading a post with one idea and change it by the end! Thanks for stopping by. Have you ever chosen something you wished you hadn’t?

  6. Awesome post! I think I can relate to this and wish I had read it before my own experiences in Australia.
    I was a bit daunted by a scuba dive but wanted to do one. My mates wanted too do one so I went along. I decided too do it as millions of people do and its pretty safe. Well, loved it! One of the best experiences of my life.
    My mates also wanted to rent motorbikes on an Magnetic Island. They both had lots of experiences on bikes but I never driven one in my life. I didn’t really want to but I decided to rent one and keep up. I did ok until I had an off, at speed and bashed myself up pretty badly. Lesson learnt. Tarmac: 1. My Face: 0.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Ouch! Thankfully those injuries are the kind that you can recover from and tell the tale! I’ve heard several like that one – motorbikes and scooters look like such fun around a gorgeous vacation spot. So tempting. What would you tell others to do in that case? All your mates are going to do something – how do you get out of that? What do you do while they are off?

  7. Well said!! We are always trying to immerse ourselves in a culture and live like locals, but it’s not always easy, safe or possible like you said. There are many ways to experience a country and a culture! We sometimes end up in local fast food restaurants or coffee chains and there inevitably is the thought that we SHOULDN’T be there, that we should be eating local food and then we look around and see the place is FULL of locals and figure we’re eating exactly like they do some of the time anyway!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      LOL! That is a great way to look at it. When visiting Madrid, we ate breakfast locally but then as we were walking to our destination we encountered a Starbucks. We went it for some coffee for the road and the place was full of locals! πŸ™‚

  8. twoscotsabroad says:

    When in Rome, I agree! I did a hammam bath too. It was hilarious! They put a green face mask on my Mum, Dad and cousin and called them Princess Fiona, Shrek and The Incredible Hulk. Oh how we laughed.

  9. Joeography says:

    Lots of great things to consider here. I like to say “You only live once, so get out there and enjoy life, but be smart about it!”

  10. Chris says:

    Some solid advice! Also make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re doing (don’t be peer pressured and also think of the ethical consequences), but most of all, if you’re not having fun, walk away! πŸ™‚

  11. tamarasw says:

    Nice post! I agree you don’t want to go so far out of you comfort zone that you get hurt or put yourself in danger. But it’s great to have new experiences!

  12. Sanket D. says:

    Yes; totally! This is the first thing I tell friends when they tell me about their first trip as an independent traveler. I mean, sure, things can go wrong at times, but you know I’ve learned over time, this is what makes some of the best stories too. And if you don’t have great stories to tell, then what on earth have you got anyway?

  13. It’s always good to travel outside your comfort zone. It’s all about experience and just living life in general. It’s better to just do it than look back and regret on not taking the chance. By the way that’s awesome that you got to experience all of that πŸ™‚

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Thanks! We try to savor the local experiences when we travel. They say you only regret the things you didn’t do….. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your comment!

  1. September 7, 2017

    […] Comfort Zone – Get out of Yours […]

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