Wherever you are in the world, it’s that time of year again. The holidays are almost behind us and the pressure of committing to endless, unachievable New Year’s resolutions is just around the corner. But while it’s tempting to succumb to the “new year, new me” craze, the start of a new year is also a good time to think about how you can better pursue your passions. Maybe you’ve never traveled on your own, maybe there’s a special destination you’ve always wanted to visit, or maybe you simply find it hard to make time to travel at all.
Whether you’re an expert traveler or have never been overseas, January is the perfect time to make a change. Here are eight easy-to-stick-to resolutions to get you started:
1. I will look after myself, mentally and physically, especially when I’m on the road.
From drinking to fast food, the holiday mentality makes it easy to pick up bad habits traveling, although the good news is that these habits are just as easy to avoid as they are to pick up. Apps like Drink Less and Daybreak can help you monitor your drinking while packing healthy snacks, researching street food and restaurants in the area you’re visiting, and making the most of hotel breakfasts can help you avoid heading to the nearest burger bar. Or, to avoid temptation altogether, kick off a healthy 2019 in style at a health and wellness retreat like the COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali.
2. I will spend less time on Instagram, and more time in the moment.
One look at the Instagram account @insta_repeat will tell you everything you need to know about “#travelgrams” — only without the long lines of other eager travelers desperately waiting their turn at taking a photo of themselves silhouetted against the different backdrops.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with showing off that you’re at an amazing beach, have just completed an awesome climb to a ledge with breathtaking views, or are enjoying margaritas while everyone back home is stuck at work. But trying to find the right filter instead of enjoying the beach? Or posing perilously on the ledge, just to get a good photo? Or trying to think of the perfect hashtag instead of socializing with your friends?
Travel is made up of moments that quickly become memories, and you don’t want your memory to be of your phone screen. In 2019, do your best to put it down or turn it off.
3. I will think outside the box when it comes to transport.
There’s nearly always more than one way to get from A to B and, often, the alternative can turn the most mundane of journeys into an exciting new adventure. For example, in Australia, you can fly from Adelaide to Darwin in just under four hours. Or, you can hop aboard The Ghan, and embark on a four day, three night, 2,979 kilometer train journey of a lifetime.
It’s an extreme example and, admittedly, you don’t have to be quite as adventurous. An easier option is to turn a short flight into a road trip, stopping off at sights along the way, or even hiring a van and living the “van life” dream.
4. I will experiment and travel outside of my normal comfort zone.
Whether you’re a culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, or beach bum, chances are you’ve probably got stuck in a bit of a rut as far as traveling is concerned. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that; if you’re happiest relaxing on a beach with a piña colada, then that’s great, but why not try something a bit different next year as well? If you normally plan your trips around art exhibitions and museums in the world’s biggest cities, try a remote adventure holiday. Or, if you normally spend your time traveling climbing mountains, give a chill beach holiday a go.
5. I will travel solo to a remote destination.
Solo travel is wonderful. It challenges you, teaches you to enjoy your own company, and allows you to do whatever your heart desires on your trip without compromises. Naturally, it may make sense to plan a solo trip to a busy city or town, where there’s likely to be lots of other solo travelers.
But there is a different option. In an age where people are constantly connected, you can still challenge yourself and plan a trip somewhere that will give you time and space to switch off and really be alone. For a proper remote getaway, consider the Ittoqqortoormiit Guesthouse in Greenland, which prides itself on being “the most remote AF hotel” in the world, or, for an easier alternative, have a go at wild camping.
6. I will see the world from someone else’s perspective.
Traveling in a pair or group can often be just as valuable an experience as solo travel, especially if you choose to travel with someone with different tastes or interests to your own.
Perhaps you have a friend or family member it’d be interesting to take a trip with, instead of your partner or best friend. Maybe you could visit a site of historical interest with a grandparent, take your young cousins on a mini-adventure, or simply plan a weekend away with a friend you’d like to get to know better. It’ll require a bit of patience and teamwork but it’ll be worth it; their approach to the world might make you reconsider your own.
7. I will learn a new skill from every destination I visit.
Always wanted to speak Italian? Make a perfect curry? Learn how to make a fishing spear? Travel is often described as one of the best learning experiences there is, but most of us rarely make the effort to really learn something new from the places we visit, and most of us miss out as a result.
Next year, wherever you go, set yourself a manageable learning goal, whether it’s mastering a few phrases in the local language, or learning to cook a few local dishes. Or, if you’ve got time, try to incorporate an organized learning experience into your trip. GoOverseas.com has language schools all over the world, catering for all different levels, while cooking school courses are easier to fit into shorter trips.
8. I will do my part for the planet by practicing sustainable travel.
The polar ice caps are melting, plastic is flooding our oceans, and scientists have warned that the window is closing if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C. So, if there’s one travel resolution that you commit to next year, make sure it’s this one.
An easy place to start is by rethinking your single-use plastic consumption. Avoid hotel miniature toiletries; invest in good quality reusable coffee cups, water bottles, and cutlery; and try to avoid buying food that’s heavily wrapped in plastic when you’re on the go. Then, look at your carbon footprint: can you fly direct instead of making a stopover? Is it possible to go by train? Can you cycle around your destination? Aim to make these small changes next year, and protect the beauty of our planet for many more years to come.