I’m semi-afraid of heights, yet I’ve rappelled down a 60-foot high rock tower, climbed a 130-foot tall Mayan pyramid, and jumped off a perfectly good platform 40 feet in the air to hurl, twisting and screaming, down a zip line. I’m not saying these things to brag; I’m sharing them because some of the best experiences in my life happened doing things that I was terrified to do.
One of the greatest things that you learn about traveling is that it not only broadens your horizons, but gets you to test your limits, with the result that you often find that you can do so much more than you thought you could do. This isn’t to say that you should try everything that scares you, however; you’ve got to take into account whether the experience, and the memory are worth the risk.
I’ve gone ahead and done some foolish things so that you don’t have to, which has helped me compile a list of ways to determine when to challenge yourself, and when to wait in the hotel room binge-watching Game of Thrones.
Why Should You?
You’ve always wanted to, and will regret it forever if you don’t. If you’re really, honestly afraid to do something, then it’s not something that you’ve put on your bucket list. Swim with sharks? Yeah, not anywhere in my to-do pile. But if you’ve dreamed of bungee jumping, or parasailing or anything that makes you tremble with excitement and not utter terror, then you should give it a whirl.
You trust the people/company in charge of the event. I’m a big believer in companies that carry insurance and train their people well. And yes, I do ask these questions before I go hook myself up to any piece of equipment that is responsible for keeping me alive. I want to participate in an activity where the company hosting it is just as concerned about me staying in one piece as I am, even if I did sign that three-page waiver.
You’re making the decision because you want to. Peer pressure is a bad thing, even if your friends swear to you that you’ll have fun. You should never force yourself to do something far outside your comfort level, no matter how much you want to fit in.
When Shouldn’t You?
You’re not in shape for the activity. Despite the fact that I still think I’m 20 (I have a few decades on that), I have learned that just because my mind wants to do it, my body often defers. While I am comfortable doing a 10-mile hike along a trail, I’m not in shape for a five-mile climb straight up a mountain. And those triathletes that are on the same hike? They’re not going to be too entertained by your 50 pit stops.
You’ve had a recent or recurring injury. I learned this one the hard way. Despite being in physical therapy for torn ligaments in my knee, I went ahead with a mountain hike in the Poconos. About a quarter of the way up, I wanted to turn back, only to be told by the guide that it was too dangerous to travel the same path down, and we’d have to hike to the top to get to the return route. Needless to say, the hike wasn’t a whole lot of fun, and neither was the additional four months of recovery time.
You’re really, truly terrified. You can call it mind over matter all you want, but if you’re really scared to do something, don’t do it. You won’t enjoy it, and chances of injury are a lot higher when you’re not relaxing and enjoying the ride. I’ve never jumped from a plane for this very reason—while my friends all insist that I’ll love it, I know that it won’t be the fall that will kill me. It will be the heart attack I’ll have just trying to cross that threshold.
While I’m a big believer in pushing boundaries, I also believe that you have to know your limits. If it’s safe, and you feel confident and secure, then go for it! There’s no better feeling than realizing what you are actually capable of accomplishing.
Did you know that RoamRight offers an Adventure Plan? Benefits will be paid up to the plan maximum, if you become injured while participating in any of the following sports: mountaineering where ropes or guides are normally used (15,000 feet limit), parachuting, bungee jumping, snowmobiling, scuba diving involving underwater breathing apparatus, jet skiing, water skiing, snow skiing, spelunking, parasailing, and snowboarding.
Fun is part of any travel experience, but so is staying protected. Learn more about our policies here!