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  • How To Get Out Of Your Travel Comfort Zone

    Feel like you’re booking the same old holiday on repeat? Here’s how to get out of your travel comfort zone and embrace a trip with a twist, whatever type of traveller you are.

    Climbing Machu Picchu at dawn. Kayaking with komodo dragons. Camping with tribespeople in Kenya. Not the gap year adventures of an 18-year-old backpacker, but the holiday plans of more and more women in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
     
    “Turbo-charged, transformational experience holidays which challenge and improve us are on the rise,” says Lucie Greene, trend forecaster at JWT Innovation. “Our allocated holiday days are precious, so there’s a sense of wanting to maximise that time, be immersed in a new culture and create memories that will last.” We’re also more likely to be having these adventures solo – one in nine holidaymakers took a holiday alone last year, double the number in 2012. And if we’re not doing it, we’re dreaming about it – Pinterest reports that searches for ‘solo travel’ are up 600% this year.
     
    Although booking this type of trip might seem scary, it can actually help you switch off. “Doing something out of your comfort zone means you have to focus on the right now, so for some people it’s actually more relaxing than lying in a hammock where they might be checking emails,” says Jenny Graham, Director of Quintessentially Travel.

    So if you feel stuck in a rut with your annual fly’n’flop, here are some ways to think outside the beach holiday box...

    The New Adventurer

    You want to get off the beaten track and explore uncharted terrain. Or at least somewhere where there’s not a Starbucks on every corner. But as intrepid as you are, you’ve outgrown hostels and don’t want to compromise on comfort (and style). “I call them ‘luxe-peditions’,” says Jenny Graham. “A trip with just the right about of thrills to make it memorable, but the frills to feel luxurious.”

    BORNEO TO BE WILD

    Get up close and personal with orangutans on this 13-day adventure deep into the Malaysian jungle with travel company Flashpack, who specialise in bringing together like-minded travellers in their 30s and 40s.

    BRANCHING OUT

    Your camping days might be over (and yes, that includes ‘glamping’) but get that back to nature feeling at The Fish Hotel’s wood-panelled tree houses with plump double beds, freestanding outdoor tubs and board games to hunker down with if it rains.

    DESTINATION UNKNOWN

    It doesn’t get much more exciting than a mystery holiday. Dutch travel company Sprs.Me plan your trip for you. Just tell them your budget and desires and you won’t find out where you’re headed until you get to the airport. Control freaks need not apply.

    The Fitness Fanatic

    If there’s some lycra in your wardrobe and you’re not afraid to pack it, then a trip with an exercise element certainly beats the treadmill at the gym. “Triathalons, ultra-marathons and holiday bootcamps are all on the rise among female travellers,” says Lucie Greene. “The sense of accomplishment, the endorphin buzz and of course the smug bragging rights when you get home all add to the appeal.”

    NEW SHORES

    Locals call Sedona ‘a cathedral without walls’ and the red craggy cliffs and spiritual New Age vibes in this Arizona town make it the perfect drop off point for a guided kayak tour of Lake Powell. Your arms will be sore but the spectacular sunset views of Antelope Canyon will more than make up for it

    (Tempted? Enter our competition for the chance to win the ultimate road trip across Arizona.)

    TAKE TO THE SEA

    Dive into the lesser-explored 24-island archipelago of the Greek Sporades on a SwimTrek guided swimming holiday. You’ll be breast-stroking alongside monk seals and enjoying picture-perfect views through those goggles. And just think of all that calamari and ouzo at the end.

    SADDLE UP IN IRELAND

    If riding brings back memories of rising trot at Pony Club, Far and Ride specialise in getting you back in the saddle in spectacular locations from Albania to Zimbabwe. Their 6-night tour of the West Coast of Ireland will have you cantering past castles, mountains and craggy coastlines. With thighs of steel to take home as a souvenir.

    The Slow Traveller

    Rushed city breaks where you frantically tick must-visit destinations off your to-do list are so last season. The new travel trend is to really take your time. “Slowing down the pace, switching off and connecting with your surroundings will be a huge trend next year,” adds Lucie. Because it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, and all that. 

    THE RIGHT TRACK

    The Caledonian Sleeper - the overnight train from London to Scotland has just had a £150m-plus reboot. The 75 new carriages include suites that feature a double bed and showers, and an improved menu in the dining car, for those Hitchcock-esque cocktails. Better sip it slowly - the journey lasts 13 hours.

    ALL ABOARD

    Learn to go with the ebb and flow as you meander through France’s inland waterways on an eco-friendly canal boat courtesy of a Backwaters tour. Stop off for a stroll down the towpath, visit a vineyard for a wine-tasting and enjoy a boulangerie picnic on board. Just no BUI. That’s boating under the influence.

    A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

    Traditional safaris mean hours zooming around on game drives in search of ‘The Big Five’. But a two-day walking safari of the Lakipia Hills with the Ekorian Mugie Camp will allow you to get up close and personal with The Small Five - insects, plants and smaller creatures - as well as appreciating those big skies.

    The Wellness Wanderluster

    Whether you’re seeking a total life overhaul or you just want to feel rejuvenated, wellness tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors. “It’s more than just a yoga retreat or a juice fast,” says Lucie. “It’s holistic holidays which will clear your head and improve your life when you get back home.”

    SLEEP ON IT

    Perhaps you’re a lifelong insomniac or simply just love a lie-in? The sleep retreat programme at Six Senses, Oman, uses state of the art sleep technology in the bedrooms, a soporific menu in the restaurant and a programme of massages and meditation.

    NO WOMAN IS AN ISLAND

    This recently-opened 3.4 hectare island in the Gulf of Finland has wild swimming, saunas, massages, yoga, foraged food and Scandi-chic cabins. SuperShe is a women-only networking retreat where women can relax, recalibrate and bond.

    YOGI'S CHOICE

    Explore the self rather than just the sun lounger with Secret Yoga Club. This boutique company curates retreats in unusual destinations, all focused around a particular theme. Coming up next is explorative movement, music and
    meditation in Goa, and a three-day workshop into female arousal in London.

    The Second City Breaker

    We all love the culture and excitement of visiting a capital city, but by pushing yourself away from traditional hotspots, you can uncover off-radar gems. “Less well-known ‘second’ cities have the benefit of being quieter, more affordable and, of course, make you seem more alternative and interesting when telling your friends,” says Lucie.

    AKUREYRI, ICLEAND

    Skip the selfie-takers in the Blue Lagoon and visit Iceland’s second biggest city instead. It has just as many cool microbreweries and restaurants as Reykjavik, and is also a great starting point for some of the North’s most dramatic waterfalls and lakes.

    COLOGNE, GERMANY

    Berlin gets all the hype, but up-and-coming neighbour Cologne combines medieval splendour with cutting-edge cool. Head to the Belgian quarter for bars, boutiques and minimalist art galleries

    FEZ, MOROCCO

    Morocco’s cultural capital has had an extensive makeover this year, including a newly-restored eighth-century medina and one of the world’s oldest libraries reopening to the public. Take a photography tour of the city with Plan It Morocco.

    Kate Wills is a travel and features journalist who writes for The Telegraph, The Times, Stylist and Grazia.
    What to pack on your next adventure...