First off, I'm a fair weather pilot. I don't fly to any particular place and am never in a hurry to get there. Counting cows and looking at the pretty water on the river is my flight "goal."

Second, I'm pretty low time. Most of my 100 or so hours is in a 7AC Champ, which is a happy airplane that is pretty darned forgiving, if light.

Needless to say that my personal limits are pretty narrow.*

The problem, of course, is that one can box one's self into too narrow a set of personal limits, which means that if things get a little windy/bumpy/just plain yucky one lacks the experience to handle them.

The question is how to reasonably ramp up to expand the personal limitations. In the Champ I used the five and ten knot rule I made for myself. Five knots more cross wind than I'd normally say is good for flying, ten if it's down the runway ('s never down the runway, is it?). On those days it's exactly for the purpose of stretching limitations, and I limit flights to no more than an hour and mostly in touch-and-goes. Once I'm happy with a wind condition, I'll mentally check it off and stretch it a little more. If it's in the "whoa, let's not do that again" category (been there, parked it after one circuit), I hold off and stay at the lower limit.

All of this within the confines of what the book says the aircraft can do. I won't fly if the xwind is more than what is recommended for the aircraft, for example.

* Right now it's even more restricted as I'm in test flight for my little Nieuport 11. Think ultralight rules for gusting to two, with a little leeway.