I don’t much care for “New Year’s Resolutions.” Mine have pretty much been the same for the last few years: travel when possible, lose 10 pounds, try to be less bitchy. I typically only accomplish one of these – I’ll let you guess which one.
For 2016 though, I wanted to come up with some travel-related resolutions, since those seem to be the ones I actually have a chance of accomplishing. If you’re someone looking to either travel more in 2016 or make your travel experiences better, here are a few ideas….
Save Save Save
People often ask how I afford to travel a lot. The obvious answer is that I have a really good job where I make decent money. What people aren’t necessarily aware of is that I put most of my disposable income into a travel fund. I shop some because that is a weakness of mine and a girl’s gotta have cute outfits, but in between that, I am saving for travel. I hardly eat out unless it’s for special occasions. I bring breakfast and lunch to work. I buy stuff on sale. I don’t spend my tax refund, but put it into my travel savings. Traveling is a priority, so I behave accordingly. So if you’re looking to travel more, try opening a separate checking account specifically for travel funds. Even if you can only put $50 a month in it, that’s a whole day’s worth of meals or even a night’s stay at a hotel in some places. You’ll be surprised how quickly it can add up.
Travel Outside the Box
I love going to all the famous places in the world. London, Paris, Rome….these places are beautiful and worth returning to again and again. But there’s a huge world out there, and a ton of amazing experiences waiting for you if you open your mind a bit. Next year, try going somewhere different. Somewhere that will challenge you and represent something wholly new, and maybe even a tad scary. Maybe that means a trip to Tokyo instead of Rome, or Oregon instead of California, where you’ve already been 4 times. Whatever would be new and foreign to you, do it. Do it instead of defaulting to the same travel plans you always make. Make 2016 the year of true exploration of the unknown.
Use All Your Vacation Time
I’ve discussed in a previous post the need for Americans to take more paid time off if they’re lucky enough to have it. I won’t rehash the compelling arguments for that here, but it’s worth repeating: get the hell out of dodge every minute that you can. Even if you can’t actually go anywhere, have a little Staycation and explore the unknown in your own city (I promise you there’s plenty for you to see). When the clock hits 12:01am on January 1st, 2017, resolve to have no vacation time remaining.
Let Go Of Prior Bad Travel Experiences
No one has had a worse travel experience than me falling and obliterating my leg in the middle of nowhere, Ecuador. I feel confident saying that. But I’m sure we’ve all had bad travel experiences – food poisoning in Thailand, getting the flu in the Dominican Republic, having morning sickness so bad that you can’t leave your hotel room during your trip to Europe. Let that shit go. It might be hard or easy depending on the severity of your experience (I have some PTSD from my accident and the difficult, ongoing recovery, and am still trying to work through it), but try not to let it sour you from travel altogether. The truth is that bad stuff can happen whether you’re 3 miles from home or 3,000 miles from home. We simply can’t control much of what happens to us, regardless of whether we are in familiar or strange surroundings. I broke my leg during a routine, not even difficult, hike. I took one wrong step and boom, disaster. Since my accident, I’ve actually heard probably 50 stories from friends about people getting sick or injured while traveling. But don’t let that stuff control where your feet take you. Go into new travel experiences without a grudge and leave the weight of that bad experience at home.
Click Less, Look More
I am probably more guilty of taking too many photographs than anyone. I’m hardly ever without either my camera or my phone, ready to snap a picture at a moment’s notice, and I’ve been known to spend 10 minutes trying to get one good shot. There’s nothing wrong with taking lots of photos, especially if you’re into photography, and of course you want to document your trip. But every now and again, try to make sure you’re seeing things directly with your own two eyes instead of through a camera lens. It’s ok if you miss the chance to capture a moment with your camera. You captured it in your mind, and sometimes that’s even better.
Think For Yourself
When you’re on a trip, there will be no shortage of advice from people and guidebooks about things you “absolutely must do” while there. Feel free to ignore some or all of this advice. If you hate museums, don’t spend 2 days going to museums because you’re “supposed” to do so in that particular place. It’s perfectly fine to skip seeing that castle or that temple and instead go shopping at a street market or sit in a cafe and people watch. Or to march right up to that “tourist attraction” and wait for hours to see it even if someone tells you to skip it. Travel is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Make your trip something that excites you, moves you, fills you with joy. The last thing you want is to get back from a trip and realize you took someone else’s vacation.
Happy Traveling, and Happy New Year!