By Miss Pollyanna, 21st March 2016

7 Get out of Your Comfort Zone Holidays!

Don't be Boring, go Somewhere new...

Don’t be Boring, go Somewhere new…

I am biased, I admit it. A fully-fledged, self-confessed travel addict. The world has always been my oyster and the thrill of discovering a new place is up there with life’s biggest euphorias. Sometimes surpassing even cake! So what I don’t understand is this: why do people keep going back to the same old places every single year on holiday? Yawn…

It’s time to get inspired with my 7 Get out of Your Comfort Zone Holidays!
If you really have an awful time, well, Tenerife, Florida, the never-changing campsite in Devon, and Butlins will still be there waiting with open arms to greet you ‘home’. But in the meantime, by taking a punt on the fresh and unseen, not only will you broaden yours (and your kids’) horizons, you might also discover some place new to make new memories – ones without the same background in the photos every single year; you might even stumble across a new passion, or meet the greatest friends in the world who you’d never ever have known about had you not taken the leap of faith. You might even decide to up sticks and move to this destination anew

In the world of Get out of Your Comfort Zone Holidays anything is possible!

There are so many amazing experiences waiting for us when we let go of the need to control the outcome, knowing exactly how everything will unfold with our typical Comfort Zone Holiday in the caravan/at the theme park/at Centerparks/all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic/under canvas in Wales… yet again. So get out of your own private reality show that is ITV’s drama, ‘Benidorm‘, no matter how upmarket you’ve curated your version to be, spread your wings, take a risk, LIVE a little, fly and grow.

By trying something different, by ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’ (which for some of us can be stepping on a plane, boat… or heck, even a train, venturing 10 miles outside of our state line/county/European border line, setting foot in a new culture/continent, or even trying out the B&B the other end of Blackpool/The Gold Coast/Santa Monica for a change of scene), we open the doors to excitement and adventure that could never spring forth if we’d refused to let go of the ‘safe and familiar’.

We also become more confident in other areas of our life as our courageous muscles grow ever stronger, spilling over self-belief into the everyday. If we can push ourselves to put our fear of ‘unusual’ food and ‘undecipherable language’ to one side on that city break to Helsinki, we might find we come home and feel inspired to audition for the local panto. If we can give that offer of a two week break in North Carolina a shot, go stay with those lovely cousins who’ve offered to put us up for free… and get over our fret about the long plane journey… and the chances of developing DVT whilst airborne, we might well come home and damn well apply for that job opportunity we keep putting off!

So hold on tight and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!

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1: Iceland

Swap buckets and spades for geothermal lagoons, geysers and whale watching. Drink up the culture, revel in the lunar landscape and wonder at the phenomenon that is lighter nights… and if you get lucky, The Northern Lights. Iceland is just a stone’s throw away from the UK, but so few Brits have ever been! Yes, it is cold. No, you probably won’t master more than a couple of words of the lingo. Yes, other-wordly fish dishes will be par for the course. But this about the closest to truly unique adventure as you will get in terms of distance from Blighty. Which for those of us who aren’t so keen on spending hours on a plane for a taste of the ‘exotic’, makes it the perfect destination. This site, offers some fabulous deals with bases dotted all over the capital, Reykjavik (the ideal spot for encompassing as many experiences as possible into your break) and beyond.

2: The Norfolk Broads
Norfolk Broads
I add this to the list for myself as much as everybody else, as I have always fancied making a trip to the Far Eastern side of the UK. And what better way to do that than on a barge, stopping at country pubs as you chug leisurely past some of the most stunning flora and fauna in Britain? For sure, this will be one challenge of a vacation if you and the rest of your crew don’t all get along swimmingly. But I think that only adds to the drama and excitement, doesn’t it? Making it a perfect all round Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone experience. And really, is it that different to being cooped up together in a caravan or tent? If you’ve done that for the past ten years, you can play it out on a canal instead. One of the best travel websites on the internet offering not only tailor made holidays to the Norfolk Broads, but trips on barges all over the UK, is the fabulous Last Minute Boating.

3: Botswana
Admittedly, for the non-long haul flight brigade, the idea of a mammoth plane journey isn’t going to sound like paradise. But we’re talking Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone Holidays, remember? Ah, yes. And I think for any of us who have only seen the kind of wildlife featured on a Botswana adventure in a zoo or rescue centre (me included!), this kind of trip is at least a once in a life time must. Botswana, arguably one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in all of Africa, is really starting to open itself up to tourism again. And whilst even to the more intrepid among us, a visit may verge on the ‘daring’, it is always reassuring to know that highly established tour operators such as Kuoni and Virgin are out there offering ethical vacations. Take in the delights of the Okavago Delta, its hippo and crocodiles, or get enchanted by the Chobe River’s elephants. Stay in rural eco-friendly lodges encompassing luxury and the quintessential safari experience, and help boost the economy of a fabulously underrated country.

4: Texas
The Travel Channel has been a long-time fan of holidays in Texas, and with good reason. For all that every state of the U.S.A has to offer, Texas is all too often side swept in favour of the perceived glamour of California and buzz of New York. But look again and you will discover a wealth of variety in this, The Lone Star State. Because first off, Texas is the second largest and second most populated state in America – giving tourism so much more space. And besides that, it offers all of this; Johnson Space Centre, The Dallas Cowboys and their epic baseball matches, Houston’s Rodeo, The Alamo (a fortress near the capital, San Antonio that witnessed 13 days of battle between the Mexicans and Texans way back in 1836), the gorgeous San Antonio river walk, Texas State Fair (and more fried food than you can shake a stick at), the infamous ‘Schlitterbahn‘ water parks with their epic water chutes, hands down THE best barbecues in the country, Palo Duro Canyon, Rio Grande Valley and the amazing Dallas zoo.

None of which begins to even scratch the surface, but does at least hint at the diversity on offer. American Sky is hands down one of the best travel websites we have come across for all round quality and value.

5: Taiwan
I once spent just 24 hours in Taiwan and from what little I did see, it is one of my biggest travel regrets. In a positive way! What I mean to say is: I so want to go back… For this oft forgotten about island (when it comes to Western tourism, Taiwan is certainly thriving economically), is a veritable gem straddling the East and South China Seas – and The Philippine Sea. And this precise location gives Taiwan some of the most scenic coastlines on the planet such as Cape Eluanbi and the pristine white sands of Baishawan Beach. And then in complete contrast there are lush green tea farms, ornate and beguiling temples, stunning rugged mountain ranges, the 101 building – Taipei’s colossal skyscraper, vibrant bright city lights, a delectable cuisine, the Sun Moon Lake (one side of this lake literally resembles the sun and the other, the moon), and a visit to the Shilin Night Market is an absolute must – if only to sample to street food amidst the lively atmosphere. Having researched the tour operators out there with Taiwan on their list (so you don’t have to), we think Kenwood Travel are looking very exciting…

6: Denmark
copenhagen denmark
Be it a city break or a full on family week away, there are few places that could compete with the scenery and happy way of life of Denmark. We will just overlook the expense side of things… although, with a little thinking outside the box, economical can be achieved. Then again… this IS meant to be a holiday! Speaking as a Brit, I am always flummoxed by how few of my home nation have ever ventured onto Danish soil given that this country is so nearby flying-wise! Do they know they are missing out on the world’s longest pedestrianised shopping street (Stroget), the wonder of Tivoli Gardens… which led Walt Disney to create his own theme parks, an innovative – and constantly award-winning – cuisine, castles and pristine fairy tale Nordic beaches?

And yes, we have to mention the bricks! But where better to ‘do Legoland in style than its true birth place? Then there is the essence of ‘hygge‘ (roughly translating as cosy, but meaning oh, so much more) which pervades everyone and everything with a glow you could bottle and sell for millions. This is one marvellous nation offering an absolute bounty to the newbie visitor. A trip to Denmark will transform you for ever. For accommodation that’s a little outside of the box, Holiday Lettings offer a wide range of villas and houses for rental which can often work out cheaper than a hotel, and be more spacious!

7: Oman
Beauty has an address – Oman” is the mantra of the Oman Tourism website. A bold claim for sure. But one that can definitely be backed up when you take just a sneak peek at what this treasure in the Middle East has to bedazzle the visitor with… AlKasfah Spring, Jabal Shams (Sun Mountain) and a Turtle Reserve are just some of the natural wonders waiting to be discovered in this desert land. Not to mention the grace of the camels, as well as the pods of dolphins which often fringe the azure blue sea. And then there are the luxury – and I DO mean Luxury with a capital ‘L’ – hotels. You will be transported to another world, experiencing the kind of service of fairy tales. But more than anything, it is the people and the spirit of this country which embraces the soul and stays in the heart long after any visit.

Nowhere displays this more enigmatically than a personal guided tour in the sand dunes via 4 x 4 or a meander and a barter or two in the souqs. But no trip to Oman would be complete either without a visit to Muscat’s beautiful Grand Mosque, where you can marvel at the site that was (formerly) the world’s largest rug! Oman is simply unique and Lonely Planet offers some of the best guidance about planning your next vacation there.

Of course these are simply seven of perhaps the most overlooked tourist destinations in the world and I won’t pretend they are necessarily all the cheapest. But you have to admit, they definitely get you thinking outside of the box!

I have missed a gazillion others, I know. So tell me YOUR favourites. Let’s inspire one another to truly know that the world is indeed our oyster!

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