Do you want to travel more this year? Chances are yes, if you are reading this article. As one year ends and a new one begins, we find ourselves making all sorts of “resolutions.” Traveling more may be on your list.
Many people love setting goals and making lists. We are thrilled to cross things off our lists as we complete them. I am not generally one of those people. But the new year is an excellent time to reflect and settle in on things to accomplish.
So let’s do some “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goal-setting and make travel resolutions you can keep in the New Year!
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Travel Resolution #1 – Use Your Vacation Days
According to the US Travel Association, in 2018, Americans left a record number of vacation days on the table – 768 million, to be exact! There were about 126 million people employed full-time in the USA that year. And while this is just a mathematical average, those numbers show that each worker left SIX (6) vacation days sitting in their employer’s hands!
You are valuable but not indispensable. You are not chained to your desk; you’ve earned the time off, take it! You can use your vacation time all at once or mete it out and take several micro-adventures throughout the year.
One of the most common reasons people give for not taking their vacation time is the refrain: “I just have more work to do when I come back.
” By taking several shorter escapes, you limit the work that isn’t done while you are gone.
Wrap a 3-day holiday weekend with 2 or 3 vacation days, and you have a week to travel but are only missing three days of work. What a deal!
There are typically five or so 3-Day weekends each year. That means a person with ten vacation days can spread these out over the long weekends and end up with three week-long vacations!
A week is long enough for a beach vacation in Hawaii or Mexico. A family trip to Disney Land or Disney World. Or you could spend a romantic week at a cozy ski lodge or on a cruise in the Caribbean! Whatever, this is one of the most straightforward travel resolutions you can make. Just get out there and do it; use your vacation time!
Travel Resolution #2 – Eat The Local Food
You’re on vacation; this is a great time to try new things. Most likely, the foods you see on vacation are different than those at home. Don’t be shy; dig in. When you eat the foods the locals are eating, you are tasting their culture. Also, trust me when I say this a hamburger in Scotland does not taste like a hamburger in Dallas.
If you are down in New Orleans, sit down with the locals for a Crawfish Boil or start your day with beignets and chicory coffee at Café Du Monde. And, of course, don’t miss dinner at Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, “Bamm!”
In Hawaii? Poke is all the rage! Stop by the South Maui Fish Company for fresh “sustainably” caught ahi tuna Poke or fish tacos on Maui.
Are you heading down to Mexico? I had the best tacos and tequila in San Miguel de Allende, at Don Taco Tequila, and guess what? This is a vegan restaurant!
Google the local foods at your vacation location. You will find fantastic dishes and recommendations for the best places to eat them. Travel resolutions that involve eating are always on my list.
Travel Resolution #3 – Do Something You Would Never Do At Home
Speaking of trying new things, now is the time to do those activities you never would or never could do at home. When planning your getaways, think about something you’ve always wanted to do and get it on your list.
Maybe one of your other New Year’s resolutions is to be more active (this is on most people’s lists). Is horseback riding on the beach a thing you’ve always wanted to do? Yay, go do it! Bungy jumping over a river gorge? You can do that too.
Whatever the activity is, finding a way to work it into your travel resolutions will help you commit to the vacation you so deserve.
If you love Hawai’i, the Pacific Whale Foundation offers opportunities for you to volunteer on your vacation and learn more about Maui’s natural ecosystem.
Vacations are the way we refresh and renew our souls. When we push ourselves out of our comfort zone and don’t let fear stop us, we broaden our horizons. New adventures expand our minds and conquer our fears. You might find your new favorite hobby or vocation!
Travel Resolution #4 – Meet People; Talk to Strangers
Ok, this one can be tough, especially if you are an introvert! A while back, I listened to the TED Talk “Why You Should Talk to Strangers” given by Kio Stark at TED2016 the other day. Ms. Stark said in her talk:
“When you talk to strangers, you’re making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life — and theirs.”
This TED Talk got me thinking… the best way to learn about the new places I visit might be to just talk to the people who live there. It’s not always easy for me to do. I am that introvert I mentioned above, so is my husband. We’ve spent hours figuring out how to get from point “a” to point “b” walking or driving in circles because we dread trying to speak to a local.
That is wasted vacation time! And you can take back this time by asking a local on the street for help. So ask for directions. When you have an afternoon cup of coffee (or something more refreshing), ask someone to join them at their table.
Talking to the locals is one of the best travel resolutions you can make. Meet people and talk to strangers. You may get to share a few minutes of fleeting intimacy. These are the little things that make travel fun and memorable.
Travel Resolution #5 – Travel Alone
Most of us head out to travel with at least one other trusted partner. Our experiences while traveling bind our relationships as we form shared memories. But have you ever thought about traveling alone?
Traveling solo gives you complete control over your journey. No more making concessions or having to negotiate about locations or activities. You choose where you want to go and what you want to do. If you were headed to Marrakesh and ended up in Mallorca, it’s ok!
You don’t have to worry about another person’s finances, food likes, or ability to hike. If you make a mistake, the only person who will suffer from the wrong choice is you.
Solo travel forces you to be more confident and outgoing. As an individual, you may be more approachable by locals than in a group. This often results in the opportunity on a train or in a restaurant to join a conversation you wouldn’t otherwise have.
You learn more about yourself and have different experiences when traveling by yourself. These insights will amaze and delight you. As travel resolutions go, this is a must-have on your list.
Travel Resolution #6 – Go Off-Grid or Someplace Unique
Ever stay in a Lighthouse? What about a Yurt or a Treehouse? Sometimes you really need to get way away, and there are off-the-beaten-path places that will take you there.
If you always wanted to live in a treehouse, you should check out Out’ n’ About Treehouse Treesort in Cave Junction, Oregon. Boasting the largest concentration of rentable treehouses anywhere in the world, this Treesort beckons to young and old.
Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge in Alaska will get you off-grid. The nearest town is a half-hour away, and cell service is nil. But you will enjoy wildlife like moose and eagles. If you are lucky, you might see the Northern lights with a spectacular night sky.
When money is no object for your travel resolutions, and you’ve always wanted to be on your own private island, Parrot Cay by Como in Turks & Caicos is the place to go. This island is just about 1,000 acres, and the resort has only 61 rooms. Parrot Cay is the perfect place to indulge all your wants and desires for rest and relaxation.
Travel Resolution #7 – Use A Different Method Of Transportation For Your Travels
Planes, trains, and automobiles, we know them all. But when we think of vacations and travel, we usually choose one above the others. If this is you, you may want to make one of your travel resolutions to select a different type of transportation.
Some people are deathly afraid of flying and will only drive to get to a destination. If this is you, have you looked into a train trip? You can get to nearly any city in the US and Canada by train. All of Europe is connected by trains which makes travel by train easy.
And because the rails go through some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world, the journey itself is enriching.
Are you a person who generally jumps on an airplane to get almost anywhere? Try a cruise! The days of cruising being only for retired people are long gone. The ships go to amazing ports. You can choose from a very active vacation with snorkeling and jet skiing to a cultural trip visiting archaeological sites and museums. You can even do both on the same cruise.
Maybe a biking, hiking, or trekking vacation is on your travel resolutions list. If so, take a look at G Adventures. This tour company specializes in setting up adventure vacations worldwide. You’ll be sure to find the proper holiday for you that will get you close to nature and enrich your body and soul.
Travel Resolution #8 – Travel Close to Home
We often neglect great attractions and vacation spots that are closest to us. Suppose you take your vacation time in shorter spurts, like adding a Friday and Monday to a regular or long weekend. In that case, you probably don’t want to spend that time on the road or in an airport. But that’s ok, because no matter where you live, there are fantastic vacation spots close to you.
Each year, people worldwide travel to Colorado to visit the Rocky Mountains for hiking, camping, and winter skiing. In California, you have surfing beaches in LA, wine country in Napa and Sonoma, the redwood forest along the North Coast, and Yosemite and Lake Tahoe in the state’s middle.
On the east coast of the US, you have New York City and all of its crazy attractions. The outer banks in North Carolina, Disney World, and the Florida Keys in the South. The River Walk and SeaWorld in San Antonio, Canal Street in New Orleans, and the Grand Old Opry in Nashville.
While this article is a bit US-centric, if you live in Europe, you can be in a different country by car, plane, train, or boat in just a few short hours. There is no shortage of different cultures to visit and places to go close to where you live.
Travel Resolution #9 – Learn The Basics of a New Language
That part about talking to strangers above is easier if you start in their language and ask them if they speak English. In my travels through over 30 countries, I’ve almost always found someone who spoke some English. But even those folks were happier when I tried to talk to them first in their language.
If learning a new language is one of your travel resolutions? You can spend a week living in a medieval town on your vacation, brushing up on the Italian language and culture at the Accademia Lingua Italiana Assisi.
You don’t have to be fluent, but having enough words to ask how much something costs or where the bathroom is will get you far! And learning a new language today is easier than ever.
Download an app like DuoLingo or Babbel; both have free to paid subscriptions depending on how deep you want to go. Do a lesson while you work out or on your commute to work. In a few weeks, you should be able to say the basics, beyond please and thank you. Although saying thank you in Turkish is really hard, I still can’t remember the words or say them correctly.
When all else fails, there is always Google translate. Keep your phone battery charged!
Last Travel Resolution – Just Do It!
Whatever your travel resolutions are in the New Year, the most important one to remember is Just Do It! Get out there and see the world because your last words will never be, “I wish I spent more time in the office.”