Pushing personal limits when travelling


When you go travelling there is definitely a new demeanour that takes over you. Whether you’re on a weekend city break or backpacking trip round the world there is a relaxed ‘I’m on holiday’ exuberant attitude that most people pick up.

This is a feeling I think most travel obsessives crave, and if it was a feeling you could bottle you’d be one rich person! It’s a feeling a lot of people chase and desire, and something you will never get enough off.

Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life – Michael Palin.

Absolutely, I’m with you Michael.

But as part of that ‘infection’ or travel addiction attitude, does your personality change? Do you find yourself pushing yourself physically? Or maybe trying new things you never thought you’d do? Or even changing your personality to ‘fit in’?

For me, this is absolutely the case.

When I’m away and on that freedom high of exploration I suddenly feel I can face anything, walk 100 miles and eat food I normally hate. I feel invincible and even my sense of danger gets skewed.

How many of us have reflected back on a travel experience and thought “hm maybe that was a big dangerous”, “I still can’t believe I did that”. Now I just laugh and feel proud of the things I did (and I suppose grateful it didn’t go wrong).

However, as I get older, although this is still the case, I’m starting to learn who I am and know more about my personal limits. As part of that care free vibe I’ve picked up on the road, it has meant that I have done amazing things, but I have also pushed my personal boundaries and most recently sometimes not enjoyed it. It’s sometimes hard to know where the line is but as I try things I realise where I stand, and I’m starting to grow and realising some ‘limits’. Is this an age thing? Maybe.

If anyone’s been/or is going to New Zealand, tell me, how many people have said you MUST do a skydive or bungee jump?

I had it endlessly.

Now I hate heights, I have a severe fear, and have never desired to do these things but started to wonder, “should I be” and am I “missing out”? “Will people judge me if I don’t do it and make me feel bad that I didn’t” (sadly some will yes). I definitely think especially amongst a community of people who enjoy travel there is an assumption that everyone will and should enjoy the same experiences. I question now, why it is so outrageous that I didn’t do these things while I was there?

Of course, you question yourself when you’re out there, and even convince yourself to agree with everyone, “why aren’t I doing it? What’s the worst that could happen?”

You think you can tackle anything, so suddenly I was seriously considering doing a skydive while I was there. I started pushing myself with some other activities first.

The first thing I tried

We went on a tour to Cape Reinga (the most northerly tip of New Zealand) where there is approximately 100 metre high sand dunes, where people go to sand board down them. Sounded fun, so we did it. Upon arrival, it’s quite different seeing it in person and seeing the pure scale of the dunes. They loom over you and you could genuinely be in a desert somewhere. The height of them intimated me, but I couldn’t sit on the coach and watch. I’d mentally committed, and I couldn’t just sit and watch everyone else. To climb up the dunes was seriously tough, there was a strong wind and I got terrible vertigo feeling I would fall backwards at any moment. Leading me to look like I had a hunchback as I dragged myself up, panting heavily. Thankfully everyone found it tough so that was less embarrassing. Once at the top of a smaller dune (our practice one) I was incredibly nervous as it was still very high. But of course, there is now only one way down… so I watched other people then it was my turn. You know what? It was very fun, but I think that was largely because you had a lot of control. You could control the speed by sticking your feet in the sand behind. So I didn’t have to go as fast as others and I maintained a speed I felt comfortable with.

I went up again, but at the top you could walk along to the ‘main’ dune – much steeper and higher. My hubby encouraged me to go and with trepidation, I followed walking along the ridge. Again there was no turning back, however, I had some renewed confidence and kept telling myself that I was in control and not to panic. I didn’t go down as fast as others (even with people’s insistent cheering to do so, as I said people are judgey) however I still really enjoyed it, and did what I was satisfied with. I was on quite a high at the bottom feeling really proud looking up the dunes and felt really happy with the experience.

Due to the high of the achievement, I let my hubby talk me into the next challenge. A tandem parasail. It so happens the one we booked in Paihia was the highest in New Zealand at 2000 feet – was that a good idea?

Spoiler: No.


The next day was hit and miss whether we could do the parasail as a cyclone was coming in, but there was a break in the weather with the sun creeping out so we went ahead, joining three other couples on the boat. We went second, and watching the first couple so high above us I was feeling very unsure about this experience, all confidence from the previous day gone. Anyway, it was obviously too late now. Once in position on your harness, we were thrown into the air and started to rise higher and higher… I felt sick.

I was trying to be brave and kept telling myself “It’s fine, it’s fine”. The view was amazing over the Bay of Islands but it was hard to focus, I kept looking out, talking to myself “look at that pretty bay” “look at the colour of the water” but it was no good, I had an iron grip on the straps and my legs were tense as I felt I was going to slip out of the harness. My hubby was trying to reassure me and I just ‘mmed’ and tried to breathe.

As the minutes ticked on I didn’t relax, I got worse. Then the winds started blowing in, as it picked up the sail it would throw you around. In those moments I felt scared, and that’s when tears started to come (which is mortifying). I distinctly remember saying “I’m sorry Phil I’m trying to be brave but I hate this so much”. Then I went into full on cry mode. I felt so guilty ruining Phil’s experience because of course he was just concerned now. But seriously it felt like the longest 10 minutes of my life.

Back on the boat, they asked if I enjoyed it and I said I was sorry but no, the guide said he could tell but was very nice about it. I didn’t want to talk about it too much so as not to ruin it for the others who hadn’t been up yet. Safe to say however they all loved it (except one guy who threw up when he landed back on the boat).


Look at the tension in my arms.

So how far should we go?

Which takes me back to my point about how we all differ and actually sometimes can we push our personal boundaries too far? In some ways I’m pleased I did it because now I know where my boundary is. I know that was too far for me, and actually, that is ok. Now I know I will never bungee jump or skydive because I’m confident in myself that I would not enjoy it. And although I fully support and love to indulge in that care free ‘let’s do this’ attitude when you’re away (the sand dunes was awesome after all) there is also something great in knowing where the cut off is for you and being happy to do what you want.

Sure, you still need to push yourself to some extent to get those rewarding new experiences, but it’s true you should listen to your gut about experiences…and understand your own personal limits when travelling.

Let me know your thoughts or experiences with this below.


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