Comfort Zone: Family Travel OUT of the zone
Comfort zone: Should your family vacation be inside or outside the zone?
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?
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!
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!
*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!
*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!
*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.
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 😉 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 – 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!
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!
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’ 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!
In spite of experiencing ‘only’ the 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
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