How To Push Your Boundaries

At 4 a.m. in the morning, the bus attendant nudged me on the shoulder and shouted, “Kalaw!”Troy, sitting beside me with one eye open, looked around and whispered, “Are we here?” “Yeah,” I answered in a daze. It took all the effort I could muster to get up, grab my jacket, and swing my backpack over my shoulder, as I stumbled to the door.

The express bus from Mandalay, Myanmar had dropped us off on the dark streets of Kalaw. In what felt like a drunken stupor, we located our bags on the bottom of the bus and looked around at the very unfamiliar street of closed shops all around us. There was no one on the streets except for two guys on motorbikes. “Where are you staying?” asked one.

Reluctantly, I offered up the information, hoping he would be able to give us directions to our guesthouse — and that magically this guesthouse would be steps away from where we were. Unfortunately, we had no such luck. As it turned out, the guesthouse was way up the hill, at least two kilometers away. There were no cabs anywhere in this town at this hour.

Making quick decisions

After processing this information, we made a snap decision. The next thing I knew, Troy and I were on the back of the motorbikes, grasping onto the jackets of complete strangers with our large backpacks wedged in between the seats and handlebars. This is certainly not a situation we had gotten ourselves into before, but at the time, it was the only option.

How to push your boundaries?  Put yourself in unfamiliar situations. Travel does this in a big way. When it comes to making decisions, all the information isn’t always available in a way we fully understand, nor is it in the way we would like if we were back in our safe haven of a life at home. Nevertheless, a decision needs to be made. And more often than not, it feels rather liberating to free ourselves from our traditionally cautious nature.

Motorbike Loas

Visa Renewals – The Ultimate Loss of Control 

Another time our sense of control was tested was during the visa renewal process in a few countries. We all know the importance of protecting your passport and have heard terrible stories about losing it. Unsuspecting travelers having theirs stolen and copied or other horrific scams that have prevented people them from leaving a country. Retrieving a stolen passport generally results in paying a handsome sum. This kind of news creates anxiety, causing us to compulsively check our bags, making sure our passports are always there. However, to stay in some countries means surrendering that precious golden ticket to someone you don’t know for several days.

Passport_ Visa_

Take, for instance, last month in Indonesia. This country is impossible to see in 30 days, which is the timeframe for the visa on arrival. With over 10,000 islands, how could one not want to stay longer? We had three options. First, leave the country for 24 hours or longer, which is added hassle and cost. Second, we could take two three-hour return trips to Denpasar, navigating through the process of fingerprinting, pictures, and other required steps in our broken Bahasa Indonesian. The third option was to find an agent to facilitate the visa renewal. We opted for Option #3, as it was the best alternative for us during that time. We were fortunate to meet a man who worked at our guesthouse and had facilitated renewals for other travelers. Clearly, he also had the connections at customs to simplify and speed up the process. Five days later, we received our passports back.

 Feeling comfortable with limited information

Losing control of a situation also means feeling comfortable with less information than we’re used to. During our trip around the Indonesian islands, we discovered the boat offered snorkeling and trekking. Years ago, we would have asked every question about the type of boat, the food served, the sleeping cabin conditions, and if an English speaking guide would accompany us on the excursion. This time we didn’t. We had enough information to book the trip and we knew every other tour operator ran identical routes at identical prices.


Other countries just operate differently than your own.

The tour operator in Indonesia commented on how westerners need to know “every little detail all the time.” Sound familiar? He was right — we do tend to live life like that.

Travel encouraged Troy and I to discover the right amount of information to make a decision. What’s the harm in not knowing everything, as long as safety and good judgment are present? Life runs differently in other parts of the world, so perhaps us westerners are a little too cautious, a little too anxiety-ridden. Perhaps we should just relax.

By the way, that boat trip happened to over-deliver on all of our expectations. We had a blast conversing in hand gestures and limited Indo-English to the three-man crew. They were incredibly hospitable, one joined us on our treks, while another served delicious local meals — better than what we had expected. The captain chuckled at everything we said and excitedly shared his pictures of our upcoming island stops along the way.

When travel comes into your life, the door opens to stretch your limits. You’ll almost always have less knowledge and information than you’d like. Our old selves would be shocked by some of the situations we’ve gotten into!

When travel comes into your life, the door opens to stretch your limits. You’ll almost always have less knowledge and information than you’d like. Our old selves would be shocked by some of the situations we’ve gotten into!



What have you done recently to push your boundaries? We would love to hear about it.

Get out of your comfort zone and have fun with it!

About the Author Dorene

Dorene is a marketing consultant and freelance writer. She quit her 20-year career in marketing to redesign her career and lifestyle on her own terms by living location independent. Now with her husband Troy, she helps people who want to redefine their midlife and make conscious changes at TravelLifeX. She also trains & coaches travel and hospitality clients to improve their marketing at

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