B-R-A-V-E. Five letters that evoke such powerful feelings. Brave is not an adjective I would normally use to describe myself. Prior to realizing my passion for travel, I probably (more like definitely) fell into the polar opposite category of safe or risk-adverse. It’s not that I never had moments of bravery – I always loved to perform on stage (singing, dancing, acting, you name it) and I always volunteered to give presentations or speak up in my classes. But those things were in my natural comfort zone. Going outside it, and trying things that I was afraid of, was an idea I barely entertained.
Being brave can have a multitude of meanings depending on the context. It doesn’t have to mean you’ll do something dangerous or adrenaline pumping. To me, and in the context of travel, being brave means doing something you may be uncomfortable with because you know deep down that your fear or apprehension is outweighed by the reward or experience you allow yourself to have.
I believe traveling can truly inspire you to be a version of brave you never thought possible. Visiting a new destination presents you with options for activities and experiences outside of your normal comfort levels. It gives you the urge to be a bit more daring and adventurous, to try things you wouldn’t have entertained if you were anywhere else. Here are five inspirational ways travel makes you brave.
Travel gets you to…
1) Venture Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Any time you’re in a new situation, no matter how much research you do, you can never be fully prepared for what you’re about to embark on until you’re physically there in person. Traveling thrusts you into unfamiliar territory, which at the very least includes a geography you’re not used to, perhaps a new language, a unique culture/cuisine and more. When I lived in Madrid during my junior year of college, it totally took me outside my comfort zone. I learned to be brave while being forced to communicate in an unfamiliar language, navigate via paper maps and develope a sense of direction (pre the popularity of affordable international smart phones with map apps) and adjust to a totally different lifestyle with late-night social life and mid-day shut down for siesta. Before I studied abroad there, I thought I was independent, but being forced to adjust abruptly to a new environment, really brought me to a new level of bravery I had yet to experience.
2) Cope With and Even Welcome Unpredictability
Being unapologetically Type A, I’m always weary of getting into situations that mean my carefully constructed agenda won’t go according to plan. Why would I want to knowingly take a chance on de-railing something that I worked too hard to organize precisely the way I want? Well, traveling has allowed me to open up to the possibilities of unpredictability. I’ve become brave enough to take risks and even been excited about getting off track to experience something spontaneous and amazing. A last-minute change of itinerary that gives me more time to explore a destination we were only planning to pass through, a transportation no-show that forces us to navigate and stumble upon a hidden gem we would have never stepped foot in otherwise. These are all things I’ve become brave enough to embrace and even welcome as they only add to the adventure.
3) Try Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences
I don’t know what it is about being in a new place, but my regular fears of trying more adventurous things like diving with sharks, swimming with sting rays and manta rays or off-roading up and down mountains on an ATV just seem to disappear. There’s just something about traveling that makes you feel like you want to experience it all. On our recent trip to Bora Bora, I initially did not think I would get into the water with sharks at all. Well, not only did I end up swimming with sharks, but I actually did it twice! You just don’t want to pass up any opportunity to do something thats once-in-a-lifetime. Travel makes you brave and open to these kind of unforgettable, spectacular (even though potentially scary) experiences that you probably would never have done if you were home.
4) Taste New/Bizarre Foods
My whole life I grew up being a picky eater, but when I travel, I really feel like I haven’t visited a destination if I didn’t eat my way through it. It’s like saying how much you love visiting Spain, but never trying jamon cut right off the pig leg with the hoof in front of you. It’s just not authentic otherwise, am I right?! Though I’m not saying I’d try absolutely anything, I am saying traveling gives me this sense of bravery to order something on the menu I’ve never even heard of (or can even pronounce for that matter.) Becoming an avid traveler has really expanded my palate, and my five year old, pasta-only self is definitely thankful for that.
5) Learn New Things About Yourself
It may be easy to see how much I love traveling, but it’s more difficult to see all the ways it has affected who I am. Traveling has forced me to look deep within myself and really listen to my intuitions, learn to let go of the things I cannot control and be confident in the paths I take throughout my trips and even my overall life. I’ve grown to be aware of how frustrated I can become when things do not go exactly according to plan, and how important it is for me to be open-minded when trying things I may not be 100 percent comfortable with but are an important part of the culture. I’ve learned how much happier I am in the end when I say yes, rather than taking time to weigh out all my options and deliberate before making a well thought-out decision with the limited time I have. I also realized how absolutely blessed I am to have become so much more brave and confident in building memories and embracing on new experiences. Travel has taught me so much about who I am and the way I want to live my life.
Has travel pushed you outside of your comfort zone recently to try once-in-a-lifetime experiences that teach you things you never knew about yourself? Tell me in the comments below or on my social media pages. Would love to hear your first hand stories of why travel makes YOU brave!