“TRAVELING HELPS YOU TO GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE”. I can vow for that statement. While I am mostly pretty laid back and grab new opportunities with both hands and say ‘what’s the worst that can happen’.. there are definitely some scenarios that I definitely feel uncomfortable with.

I guess everyone has those moments that they have to jump out of their comfort zone. Ever since I started traveling more I get confronted with my fears more and more. Traveling has definitely helped me to face some of my biggest fears. And made me slightly more of a hero.

Even though I am still not a hero. Not at all.

The funny thing is that most things I do whilst traveling, are way out of the comfort zone of a lot of people already. Things like traveling solo, which I never found scary. However I feel like most things that are out of my comfort zone are completely normal to others. Things like snorkeling for example. But I’ll get to that later in this article.

I find it easier and easier to do things that are out of my comfort zone. I find it easier to push my own boundaries and to just go for it. To turn my brain off for a moment and to stop overthinking.

So I wanted to write this article today, to give you a bit of curage to jump out of your comfort zone as well and to tell you a bit more (funny) stories about myself.

So here you go: here are 5 times when I got out of my comfort zone while traveling.

Diving with whale sharks - The Philippines

The time I swam with whale sharks

Did you know that whale sharks are the biggest sharks on the planet. How big? Glad you asked. A grown up whale shark can easily get around 10 meters tall.

Yes. You are correct. That’s freaking huge.

When, I found out you could swim with these giant creatures in The Philippines I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. So therefor we visited Oslob. My friends and family knew me all to well. They all were saying things like ‘No way you are going to do that’ and ‘You would chicken out’.

Just a bit of background information: I’ve never been a good swimmer. I feel claustrophobic in water, I panic when I can’t stand, when I can’t see or feel the ground but I also panic when I can actually see the ground and know what is below me.

Now since whale sharks don’t swim in pools, I was expected to jump into the ocean. No ground below my feet for at least a couple of meters, a strong current and of course: whale sharks circling around and below me. Yikes.

Luckily I was traveling with a friend who fearlessly jumped into the water, which felt like an extra dose of motivation. Following someone else is so much more easy than being your own ‘leader’ I guess. So after waiting for a few seconds, for the whale sharks to get out of sight, I jumped into the water as well. Getting a bit ‘used’ to the water before facing these giants.

I quickly enough became used to the animals swimming around me. I even got used to the fact that I was swimming myself, too!

In the end (even though I am not a bit fan of the Oslob whale shark experience) I am SO glad I faced my fears and did it. It was scary as hell, bit I did it!

Ha Long Bay Vietnam

The first time I visited Asia

After multiple solo trips through Europe I decided to take the plunge and book a trip to Vietnam. I wasn’t scared of traveling solo, knowing that Vietnam is such a great country for backpackers. But I definitely found that all these things together: backpacking for the first time, traveling solo, visiting Asia for the first time, definitely made me jump out of my comfort zone.

The moment of fear and ‘what the hell am I doing’ didn’t last long, fortunately. I met so many wonderful people so quickly already – even at the airport of Hanoi, I already met someone who I explored Hanoi with. I did join a lot of tours in Vietnam, which made the trip a bit more comfortable and relaxing. But honestly; during those tours I was in such good company that I didn’t miss home for a moment. Vietnam was the best, first backpacking experience I could have ever wished for.

And that feeling of accomplishment but most of all: happiness, is something that I will never forget ever again. Now, I am happy to book a trip to wherever, with whomever, without second thoughts –  knowing everything will work out in the end.

Absolutely, 100% so happy I went to Vietnam for this experience!

The time I went skiing

I’ve skied three times before. Two times in an indoor hall with my high school class mates. And once on a ‘fake’ piste in The Netherlands, close to my home. Since those three times that I went skiing I had lessons and felt like I could master the Pizza/French Fries situation.. I decided to book a skitrip with my boyfriend at the beginning of this year.

Just remember: I’m not a hero.

Filled with excitement we booked the skiing trip. My boyfriend who literally has no fear for what so ever (the more dangerous the better) of course wanted to go as well.

I felt confident enough, until the very moment I had to put my ski’s on. There I was. On top of the slope, no clue where to start, no other way down then skiing.

I can’t remember how long I stood there before I finally went down, but it seemed like ages. In total I went skiing for two days (I’m glad we didn’t book a week though). But I can’t remember how often I fell anymore (imagine: face first sliding down the hill, screaming ‘oh no, oh no, oh no!’).

I however can remember how stupid I felt when I went home and everyone asked my if I only did the ‘easy’ slopes. Easy? My god, that was not my definition of easy.

I was literally so bad at skiing. Not because I didn’t know how to do it, but because I was to scared to make a bit of speed and just went down the slope in a straight ‘Pizza’. And let me tell you, making a Pizza doesn’t work anymore when you go straight down.

Also: a boyfriend who goes down the black slope after only doing the blue slope for three times does. not. help.

Even though I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished a big skill for skiing, I definitely grew my self confidence a bit. Obviously not for skiing, but for doing it anyway – even when I was so scared.

I’m not sure if I’d go again though.

Island hopping in El Nido, The Philippines - The Tourist Of Life

The time I snorkeled

For someone who absolutely doesn’t like water, The Philippines is a challenge. But yeah, The Philippines definitely helped me face my fear of water and swimming. Seeing that I spent two weeks doing nothing else but swimming and snorkeling.

I’ve snorkeled before visiting The Philippines though. I snorkeled in the Caribbean and Brazil, but both times I could just quit and stand whenever I wanted to.

When touring the ‘hidden islands’ around El Nido, I definitely faced a big fear of mine. We arrived at such a pretty snorkeling area with so many colorful fish and so much beautiful coral. But as the ground was completely covered with coral we weren’t allowed to stand up.

Behind the meters of snorkeling area there was a big, beautiful lagoon. How to get there? Yes – you had to snorkel.

Ok – so my fears kicked in. I had to swim – against the current, I wasn’t allowed to stand up and there could potentially be some nasty and mean little fish hidden in the coral beneath me.

I think I needed about five ‘tries’ before I could actually convince myself to push through and swim to the Lagoon. In the end I just really wanted to see the lagoon. So I NEEDED to get out of my comfort zone and face my fears. And so I did.

In retrospect I can really laugh about this situation. Basically because I now have A LOT of GoPro footage of me freaking out followed with an enormous, speedy race back to the boat. You can actually, literally see me freak out. Looks quite funny actually – glad I didn’t lose my sense of humor that day.

The moment I got used to presstrips

Now, something completely different: presstrips. I am so fortunate to be invited for presstrips every once in a while to discover new destinations. I’ve never had a bad experience with presstrips before. And luckily I’ve always ended up with an amazing group of people surrounding me (all great bloggers whom I admire).

The first time I was invited to a presstrip (to Brazil for godsake!), I had no idea how to act or how to behave. I had no idea which questions I had to ask and how presstrips worked anyway. I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but I was definitely finding myself in a new territory.

Being surrounded with an amazing group of bloggers but also meeting great other influencers from the industry or even mayors and ministers, the head of tourism of a destination and hotelmanagers sometimes is really intimidating.

However, getting out of my comfort zone like this, networking while being abroad and introducing yourself as an expert in the field has helped me to grow so much as a ‘careergirl’!

Presstrips photrographer