I count myself incredibly fortunate that I get the opportunity to travel regularly, both for work and for pleasure. In the past five years I’ve really made travel a priority, intentionally visiting destinations that I know are going to push me out of my comfort zone, and are culturally different to anything I’ve experienced before. Travel teaches you so many things that enhance yourself – compassion, empathy and understanding just to start – and for me it just makes sense to dedicate my disposable income to this.
This is why I was so intrigued by The Travel Project, and their mission to explore the ways in which travel can make you a better person. This is something I can really relate to, and furthermore totally believe. As a person, travel has made me far more worldly, less ignorant, and empathetic to other cultures and religions. It’s exposed me to other people who don’t necessarily reflect my beliefs, but this is a good thing. This allows you to question the status quo, and make informed decisions based on knowledge, not just opinion. Travel has taught me that education is paramount, and it’s been key to my development as a female and millennial in 2016.
When Contiki suggested their Japan Unrivalled trip, I obviously jumped at the chance. Japan had been at the top of my list since forever, and the culture and food both fascinated me. I’m also a Power Ranger, and the Nickelodeon show is based off the Japanese version, so whilst filming we learnt a lot about the original show and got to learn some Samurai martial arts.
As part of The Travel Project, Contiki’s aim was essentially to explore the ways in which travel encourages you to do things that you perhaps wouldn’t normally do, getting you outside of your comfort zone. For me this was perfect. I’m quite an adrenaline junkie at heart, and crave that feeling of doing something that scares you. I’ve always had an element of this in my personality, but in the last five years I’ve been putting it into practise more and more, and this is definitely thanks to the travel I’ve done. I made a promise to myself to always say yes and experience everything I can, and as a result I’m braver and more willing to put myself out there in any situation.
So, my friend Katie and I were set a series of challenges, each one designed to make us do something we wouldn’t normally do. They were things like get lost in Tokyo, share a cup of sake with a stranger, order the strangest thing on the menu, and sit for an hour in a Japanese garden without using technology (this was actually the hardest to achieve, as every garden has amazing murals and activities to do, so we literally couldn’t stop taking photos and running about).
What these challenges did was encourage us to just let the experience take us over, and have a whatever will be, will be type attitude. The menu challenge was a particular highlight as we just sat in a restaurant and asked the staff to bring us food. No-one spoke English so it was a real gamble, but like all things that we are usually nervous about, it all ended up fine, beyond fine even. We had an epic feast and everyone tried a bunch of new foods. It ended up being one of our favourite meals as we were all just in the moment and enjoying giving over control.
Travel is a great time to try new experiences as you’re not in a routine, not in a rush, and in a really positive mind set. Doing new things allows you to grow as a person, and I think growth is 100% one of the most exciting things we can be intentional about in our lives. Living outside of your comfort zone and pushing your limits allows you to do this, so much so that being daring and saying yes then becomes the norm that you incorporate into everyday life.
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