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Travelling Outside Your Comfort Zone

Travelling Outside Your Comfort ZonePublished: 01 March 2018

Author: Shilpa Ganatra

As a pampered travel enthusiast, I've always grappled with the issue of being adventurous. I love nothing more than the idea of hiking up a mountain, the most remote one I can find - just as long as there's a phone signal up there.

Of course, the world doesn't cater for urbanites like me; quite the opposite. So over the years, I've trained myself to get rid of my anxieties. I managed to zipline into clouds in a rainforest simply by not giving myself the choice to back out. And in the Maldives, I ignored my irrational fear of suddenly being swept out to sea by wading into the waist-high, calm waters and snorkelling. Very daring, I know.

To me, travel is about making memories, and that's not going to happen on the inside of a hotel bedroom.

But my recent trip to the Icehotel in Sweden made me reconsider the way in which I test my limits. The stay involved a night in the ice rooms, sleeping on top of a glacial block of ice with only a reindeer hide and sleeping bag between us. It's a common bucket list experience, thanks to its oddity and rarity.

It didn't go fantastically. As I tried to fall asleep in-5C temperatures, tired after a long day of travel, I was irked by the cold. I know I know, what else did I expect, right? It felt more like an endurance test than a fun experience, made all the worse by the fact that if nature called, I'd have to walk outside in -37C to reach the facilities. It also filled me with dread that wake-up calls were at 7.30am - not that people could sleep for much longer. In the end, the night was long, my sleep was broken, and my nose stayed cold.

The next morning, I was glad that I had experienced what it was like to sleep in an ice room, and on a practical level, glad I managed to at least get some sleep. But unlike some of the other times I pushed myself, I didn't feel enriched because of it. I didn't marvel at the beauty of nature, or take pride in my strength. I just wanted a sauna and a hot chocolate.

So I think I'm going to take a more measured approach when it comes to challenging myself in the future. I think it's important I brush off what my inner scaredy-cat is telling me, and that I experience the world to its fullest. But I now know that I should weigh up my goals against my discomfort. After all, there's no point in making myself dread an experience or grit my teeth through something that's supposed to be a privilege, simply because the opportunity is there. Just because you can, I've realised, it doesn't mean you should.

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