Travel and Losing One’s Inhibitions

Durban, South Africa

When it comes down to it, one of the main reasons we all take vacations is to get away from the real world. To say goodbye to grocery lists, electricity bills and annoying bosses, if even for a week or two. We leave home and have fun and can do some pretty crazy things at times. I’ve thought about how we all act when we travel and I have to wonder what is it about leaving home that makes us do things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do.

One of the most recent examples I have is when I was in Durban, South Africa and decided to jump off the top of a soccer stadium. I think some explanations may be in order. For a few years I’ve sort of, kind of, not really wanted to bungee jump off of something. I’d had a couple of opportunities, but chickened out. When I left for South Africa though I was determined to rectify that personal challenge no matter what. The first place I tried didn’t look safe so I left. Then I arrived too late in the day for the second place. The third place I was actually excited about, but as it turns out I showed up on a day when they don’t let people jump. I felt like the fates were not so gently trying to tell me something and yet I remain undeterred. I set a personal challenge in order to confront my fear of heights and I really wanted to see it through. I’ll share the video soon, but I did manage to jump via bungee swing off of that stadium in Durban. It was terrifying, I probably wouldn’t do it again but I am proud and thrilled that I jumped that day.  Important for my point, it’s also something that I would never, ever think to do at home. The thought of a nearby bungee spot has honestly never occurred to me.

I’m not alone in this phenomenon of crazy activity on a trip. Theme parks are a testimony to our need and desire to add some fear and adventure into our lives when we leave home. But it’s not just extreme sports that exemplify this inclination; it can also be seen in much subtler ways.

Blackwater Tubing Waitomo

Last year I wrote a fairly personal post about being a traveling misanthrope. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very outgoing and love meeting new people, but not all the time. If I’m in a cafe at home I won’t try to say hi to anyone, I doubt if I’ll even make eye contact except with the barista. But take me to a new city and I transform. I try to strike up conversations with anyone who will listen. I ask about local haunts and places off the beaten path. I become a veritable Chatty Cathy of the travel circuit. But why? Why am I so different when I travel than when I’m at home.

Vacations and travel in general are important to many of us. We spend a long time planning them, a long time saving for them and it’s our one opportunity for the year usually to just leave home and have a great time. That puts a lot of pressure on us for sure. We want to make sure everything is perfect and worry when things go wrong. But something else happens as well. We lose our inhibitions that govern our daily lives. I think we open up, become more accepting and are wiling to take risks all in the name of fun. It’s our pass for the year to let loose, go with the flow and see what happens. What may or may not be in our character at home doesn’t matter when we travel. No one knows us and we can be the people we are sometimes dying to be, but may be afraid. That’s one of the great things about travel in my opinion, it’s ability to liberate us from the shackles of daily life and give us if only for a little while the chance to explore the world in any way we see fit, wide eyed with curiosity and salivating with the promise of memories that will last for a lifetime.

Do you tend to be a little crazier when you travel? What are some examples?

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

17 Responses

  1. kelly

    Fabulous!

    Reply
  2. Sofie

    I’m way more open when I travel than at home. I think it’s because I feel more free. There’s no one from hom to judge me and if any ‘social attempt’ goes wrong, I probably won’t see that person ever again.
    The craziest thing I’ve ever done while traveling – social wise, that is – must have been when I let a complete stranger take me to dinner, drive me around and book me a hotel room in Los Angeles.
    It was a great night out!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      That reminds me though, it’s important to also be safe when being more outgoing but am so glad you had a great night. I’ve had similar experiences and am thrilled I took the chance.

      Reply
  3. Adelina

    I’m definitely more open to adventure, new people and new things while on the road. There is something so liberating knowing that there are no preconceived ideas about you and what you’re like. Its an opportunity for you to be someone you’re not. But I’m trying to bring this attitude back with me home, but it sure is hard!

    Reply
  4. Jeremy Branham

    Absolutely! A few years ago, I was hiking in Portugal when I discovered a nude beach. It took me a while but I went all in. To this day, it’s one of my most popular stories on my site. Why? Because it wasn’t just about the nude beach – it was the one thing I was really embarrassed about (and it wasn’t the nudity).

    In a couple of months I hope to take a hot air balloon and jump out of a plane in places many people wouldn’t even consider doing such a thing. Honestly, if you see how boring and safe I am at home, it would be nuts to think I would be doing these things.

    Reply
  5. Nita

    You are so right. It’s the freedom that allows us to be the best version of ourselves; the liberation from routine, from daily worries, from our comfort zone. I’ve always been too chicken for bungy jumping too. I do hope I find enough courage for skydiving soon! Love the salivating with the promise of memories 🙂

    Reply
  6. Mere

    This is SO true for me! I definitely come out of my shell more when I travel, and I try so many new things (as if being in a new place isn’t enough!) Earlier this year when I was in LA, I set out with my camera, some cash, and a dying cell phone battery. It was “risky” in the sense that I had no idea where I was going, no one with me, and no one to call if I needed help. In a weird way it was freeing to know that it was just me and the city that afternoon, and I could do what I wanted and be who I wanted. Maybe that’s one reason I love traveling so much- it changes my identity!

    Reply
  7. Jenna

    Definitely. Travel is a form of escape in some ways, and escaping means not just getting away from our day-to-day routines, but also getting out of our usual selves and exploring the boundaries of our identities. It’s part of what makes travel so exhilarating.

    Reply
  8. Megan

    How true for so many people! I’m outrageously social at home, but when I travel I actually calm down a bit. I’m still probably super outgoing by most peoples’ standards, but when traveling you tend to find yourself around interesting, uninhibited people who just want to meet other cool, interesting people. Meeting other outgoing people who want to share their stories gives me a break from being the Chatty Cathy…sometimes!

    Reply
  9. Sam

    Crazier when travelling? Me? Well…perhaps, but I’m not sure I should write about exactly how on a public comment thread! Let’s just say you won’t find me jumping off any football stadia, but good for you, Matt!

    Reply
  10. Jenn Smith Nelson

    Lots of truth to this post with which I can relate. It was great chatting you up at TBEX Matt!

    Cheers,
    Jenn

    Reply
  11. Robin Ratchford

    Good on you for doing the bungee jump, Matt. I think one reason people are more open to doing new things while travelling is that one is much more aware of the new surroundings and what they offer. I live within walking distance of plenty of touristic sites but rarely visit them. Other points of interest Here I probably don’t even notice. But if friends come to visit I find they’ll be pointing things out I simply don’t see in my everyday life because to me it’s wallpaper. When I travel, though, I’m constantly on the look out for the ‘new’ and so much more receptive to trying out different things. I’m actually working on a series of photos of local statues that I pass nearly everday and which each have a story to tell. I’ll be posting them soon with exactly the aim of demonstrating one doesn’t need to go to the ends of the earth to find interesting things. The same applies to pushing oneself to do have new experiences: the challenge is to be as open to the new when one gets back from a trip as when on it. If we can achieve that, then the travel can be truly life changing.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Great points and I can definitely relate as I live in a touristy place as well. I do think though that we feel more free when away from home.

      Reply
  12. Jack @ Eyeflare Travel

    I’m definitely more outgoing when I travel. At home, I’m pretty stuck in a routine and don’t take too kindly to having it disturbed most of the time. The point about me traveling is to change up that routine and figure out more things that I want to have in my life. Thus, ending up on the back of a motorcycle being driven around in Mexican mountain villages with a guy I meet drinking the evening before…

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Great points and love the motorcycle adventure!

      Reply
  13. paula gardner

    Absolutely. I think that part of a vacation is having a holiday from ourselves!

    Reply
  14. Stacey

    I am a bit of a chatty cathy when I travel too. Although, I think I’ve taken that home with me now. I tend to be more outgoing generally thanks to travel. And I love it.

    Also, bungy jumping… good on you! I appreicate your determination in finding a spot and going, “no, I’m doing this!”

    Reply

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