How to Take More Risks

How to Take More RisksOk, so this week has been an exciting one so far. I completed one of the most challenging day hikes I’ve done in a long time – climbing to the summit of Cradle Mountain in Tasmania.

Also, I’ve also decided to try something different with Tools of Travel.

One of the fun parts of running a travel blog is you do get plenty of emails. Granted, most of them are usually from travel-related companies asking for a free promotion, typically going along the lines of “hey can you mention my tour company” or “I have a travel app, can you send a tweet about it to your followers.”

However, occasionally among the junk and spam, I do receive some interesting emails from the blog readers.

Travelling is something I’m passionate about but it does cover such a wide range of topics. It’s simply not possible that every topic can be covered and answered by a blog post.

So what I’m going to (or try and attempt) to do is answer the travel questions I have been emailed by readers, then publish the answers here.

This question is by Avery.

Good morning Barry,

First, I just want to introduce myself to you. My name is Avery, and I’m currently student teaching in Killeen, Texas (close to Fort Hood military base). I am getting my Masters I Education at the moment and I’m 23 years old.

Last summer I studied abroad in China for 2 weeks and it absolutely changed my life. I am now wanting to travel when I have summers off from teaching, and possibly teaching abroad as a full time position.

I just wanted to introduce myself to you, in hopes of our paths crossing at some point in the future, seeing we both love to travel.

Also, if you have any words of wisdom on being more open minded to traveling and more importantly taking risks, do you mind helping me? I need to take more risks!

I hope you have a great week!



Hi Avery,

Thank you for the email.

The world is a small place, and I’m sure that we will cross paths at some point!

Great to hear about your two-week trip to China and how it changed your life. There’s something about Asia that is so fascinating to travellers like you and me.

I happen to be good friends with teachers from various countries, and although I’m not too familiar with teaching in the US, I imagine it offers longer holidays than most other careers. There’s also the bonus of being able to travel and teach overseas. I remember the wage for teaching English in Taiwan was not too bad when I last visited – around $2000-$3000 USD a month.

In regards to your question about being open-minded to travelling and more importantly taking risks, I can offer some words of wisdom based on my experiences.

Because some of the biggest challenges in our lives can come from within, I believe we need to deal with them first. Sometimes it can be the fear of failure that holds us back or the fear of failure in the eyes of others.

For me, it was the fear of change.

Whenever we make a significant change such as going travelling, we know that no matter what happens, our life will probably be different after. To many people, making that change is a scary risk.

But fear of the unknown is normal.

When I first decided to leave home to travel for 12 months one of my goals was to overcome the fear, not to avoid it or pretend it’s not there.

Some of the most inspiring travellers I have met are not fearless; they made a few key choices along the way that helped them overcome their fears.

Backpacking in Japan and other countries where English isn’t commonly fluent, everyday experiences such as ordering food or taking a bus can become little mini adventures. The thrill of the unknown can be frightening, but it can also become addictive.

Even though my days are busy, I find that now I travel more my life is far less complicated than before. Rather than rushing from one place to the next, I enjoy getting lost every now and again.

Exploring the lesser well-known parts of a city or the countryside can be very rewarding.

The well-worn tourist trails of the world offer plenty of attractions and all the facilities you could ever need. They also have the transportation structures in place to ferry you to and from your hostel or hotel. However, it’s not the only way to travel and don’t be afraid to stray from the popular travel routes occasionally.

Everyone has a limit, but whatever your limit is, there are no rules that prevent you from pushing yourself a little beyond.

I love the catchphrase “two steps forward, one step back” as it implies that making progress arduous. Although compared to doing nothing at all, the key point is that progress is still being made.

Once you identify what areas are holding you back - attack them. Click To Tweet

Another thing I love to do while I’m travelling is to speak to random people.

When travelling in a group or with a partner, it’s easy to get lazy and miss opportunities to make new friends. So if I’m flying solo, I make it my goal to speak to people whenever the opportunity presents itself.

It doesn’t have to be a full on conversation at first, and just a simple “hello” or “how are you?” will do.

It’s surprising how many in-depth conversations with locals I’ve started at bus stops, cafes, laundries, and backstreet gyms using this method. It may seem awkward or unnatural at first, but fortunately, it doesn’t require any heroism, just simple change of mindset.

With a little dedication and determination, you can improve most things in your life. Change is possible with repetition, but everyone has to start somewhere. If that start is you want to travel more, figure out how you will fund this lifestyle and draw up some plans.

It sounds like China was the start of your travel adventure and it’s up to you to continue the journey.



Barry Sproston
Barry is an English traveller and expat who spends most of his time between Asia and Australia. He has a passion for small business and can often be found tucked away in the back of coffee shops working remotely. He travels light and currently reads 52 books a year.
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42 thoughts on “How to Take More Risks

  1. Anna

    It is so true about the fear of the unknown and the fear of change… your post made me think in depth about taking risks and leaving our comfort zone, this is the only way we actually grow! and every time you overcome these inner fears you take a new step toward being someone you wanted to be, and later on – one day you simply wake up living the life of your dreams… agree that everyone has to start somewhere! great post!

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Thank’s Anna. Conquering the fear and leaving the comfort zone is always a struggle. The easy part (for me anyway) is developing the routine. Once the routine is in place, then it starts to before second nature after time. Looking back to when I first started boxing, I hated sparring. I was unsure, unconfident, and nervous. But once I learnt to relax and overcome the fears (which were all in my head), it was amazing what I could do. No Mike Tyson – but I surprised myself.

  2. Sina

    I loved reading this post! A few month ago, I left my job to travel in South America for 5 months without knowing what happens when I come back. I had that fear of the unknown but now I’m so glad I took the risk because I’ve learned so much in the past few months and I’m very grateful for the experience. I’ve grown as a person and I look forward to what the (unknown) future holds 🙂

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Hi Sina, congrats on travelling South America. Know exactly how you feel as I quit my job to go travelling too. Jobs are a funny thing, and I think we do put far too much effort into them but that’s understandable because of the security they bring us. Ok we might miss out a few months wages, but I haven’t met anyone who regretted going travelling.

  3. David

    Great advice Barry, fear of things like change, failure and the unknown are often part of life but travel definitely provides an avenue to challenge them. Travelling longer periods, I sometimes get complacent and need a reminder like this to go back and confront them again.

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Totally agree with you David, travel provides the perfect avenue to challenge them. We can still complacent from time to time. Sometimes I will get stuck behind my laptop and literally have to force myself to go outside for a walk.

  4. Travel Lexx

    Great advice Barry – overcoming the initial doubts and apprehension is one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to travelling – the rest is often much easier! Change can be hard for people – even myself. Despite travelling a lot over the last few years, I am still reluctant to make some important life decisions because of exactly that! Fantastic post and look forward to more of these!

  5. Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net)

    Good read, Barry. I have found that I like the challenges that travel presents. Perhaps there was risk in the unknown before, but it has evolved to a challenge now. I look forward to that and the sense of accomplishment that comes from something like figuring out a bus schedule in a language you barely understand, if at all! It can be something little in your own language and culture. But halfway around the world, as you said, it’s a little adventure on its own!

  6. Garth

    Great post, we have learnt to get out of our comfort zones the more we travel, I will now chat to people and ask for their photos, as for long term travel, I guess that’s where I of still have the fear of change, I’m sure I’ll overcome that one day 🙂

  7. Lisa

    Nice post and great that people are connecting with and your able to share your experiences. Change is there for the taking….embrace it. Love the new concept and will be looking forward to reading more like this.

  8. Tracy

    Great advice Barry! I totally agree with everything you have said – taking the first step into the unknown and challenging yourself to change the norm for something new is something I love (hence moving to country number 7 this year – it’s been over 40 years though so taking it slow!!)

    Along the way you meet amazing people who enrich your lives! I am in Denmark at the moment to meet a girl I met in 1990 when we both worked as au pairs in the French Alps.

    I think all the time how lucky I am.

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      7 countries is quite a list Tracy. Totally agree with taking it slow – after all it’s not a race. It’s great to hear that you still keep in contact and catch up with people you met along the way. 1990 rock on…

  9. SamH Travels

    A great post Barry and I like the way you have responded to Avery. I completely agree with you, everyone’s attitude to risk is different and I think as we have more experiences our attitude to risk does evolve. I’m looking forward to part 2 in your series 🙂

  10. Oana

    This is a great idea, I love it. People should go out of their comfort zone more often, I did this when I chose to study abroad – away from my family and friends. This was the best choice of my life as now I am where I am just because I took that chance. I might have some questions for you in the future, Barry. Thank you for doing this new approach.

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Studying abroad is a great way to push your comfort zone. Growing up in the UK I never considered studying abroad and just assumed going to uni meant somewhere around the country. I would imagine studying overseas would have been so much more fun!

  11. Elena

    Connecting with your readers in this way is such a great idea! I think you will receive far more emails from now on and you should keep responding them in such inspirational ways. Loved this!

  12. Elena

    Connecting with your readers in this way is such a great idea! I’m think you will receive far more emails from now on and you should keep responding them in such inspirational ways. I’m looking forward to you next posts!

  13. Angie (FeetDoTravel)Angie (FeetDoTravel)

    What a new and interesting concept for a blog post! I think it’s great that you are answering your followers’ questions in this way and I’m sure you will inspire others with your answers. I love your idea of chatting to strangers in some small way, it’s the perfect way of finding out more about a country you are visiting as I find it’s the people that make a country not just the sights you are seeing. Thank you for sharing your email with us. #feetdotravel

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Yeah, it’s strange how chatting to a stranger can only take a little bit of effort but can be so rewarding in return. It’s surprising how many conversations I’ve had with locals and how helpful they can turn out to be. Sure you meet the odd whinger (everywhere has them) but that’s part of the travelling fun…

  14. Paul and Carole

    This is a brilliant post, so refreshing! Sounds strange but really pleased that Avery contacted you as this is such an inspirational response and hope that he takes small steps overcomes his fears and has in his future the most amazing experiences! Love this, thanks for sharing. #feetdotravel

  15. jenn | By Land and Sea

    Such great advice – I’m sure Avery appreciated all your words of wisdom shared. Yes, risk is different for everyone, but it’s always nice to try something new or different. That, after all, is how we grow as people!

  16. Midori

    I like it very much! For me taking the risk is getting out of my confort zone and start being more talkative and sociable when traveling. I tend to be a little bit shy sometimes and I want to overcome that!

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      I hear you Midori. I’m probably more on the lazy side than shy when it comes to speaking to new people. But I find setting myself little challenges every now and again helps keep me on my toes.

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