Yesterday I took our family guinea pig pet, Slinky, outside for “grass time.” Slinky LOVES to eat grass. That is probably his favorite thing in the world.
However, Slinky was hesitant to eat the grass yesterday. He was completely protected. I was right next to him. He was covered by his cage top and his little wooden house was there. He still had plenty of room to run around inside the cage top and eat grass.
The problem was that there was too much noise. Slinky is sensitive to noise.
One neighbor was mowing his lawn. Some kids were yelling at the playground across the street. There were lots of birds cawing and chirping.
Yeah, it was probably the bird noises that made him nervous. Some primal instinct.
Even though Slinky loves eating grass, he was afraid to leave his comfort zone to do so.
We are like that about travel.
We are comfortable at home.
It is scary to go to new places, even though we know that we are going to have a great time.
It is scary to try new foods, even though we know we will enjoy them once we do.
It is scary to try new activities, well, you know the rest.
Although I have traveled for many years, I still have a comfort zone of familiarity. I want to fly on a familiar airline and rent a car to explore.
In the past fourteen months, I have taken a few trips without renting a car and relying on public transportation. That was outside of my typical comfort zone but I wanted to try it.
During this time I also specifically arranged connecting flights in order to stay up all night in New York City and Madrid. Very scary–but I survived (and enjoyed it).
A few months ago, I negotiated a hotel room rate. I have tried it a few times but am still a novice. I also stayed with a complete stranger in Morocco through Couchsurfing. Tip: see my post about alternatives to hotel rooms.
Many Americans travel to other countries and stay in American chain hotel properties and eat at chain restaurants. I find it more fun and usually cheaper to eat like a local and stay in non chain lodging. When in Rome…
I have not always been like this, however. On my first trip to Europe, I stayed in a Holiday Inn and ate only in the hotel or Hard Rock Cafe. Another trip was to Hong Kong, before I liked Chinese food–and I did not try it there. Oh, to do that trip gain!
How about you? Do you break out of your comfort zone on trips? What is something you have always wanted to try?
Charles McCool is an independent consumer travel advocate.
© 2011, Charles McCool