Happy New Year!
It’s the dawn of a new year once again. Even though we’ve sworn off making resolutions, we find ourselves contemplating how we should approach our lives and travels in the coming year. (Honestly, that’s not something that should wait for New Year’s Eve anyway.)
A couple of years ago, we hopped on the New Year’s Eve bandwagon (temporarily) with Five Traveling New Year Resolutions. We still work on those every day, making sure we stick to them year in, and year out. This year, we have a few resolutions to add, and we hope you’ll join us in making them a reality.
1. Go there, Do that
Get out your pencils, class. This is a fill-in-the-blank sort of resolution.
We are as guilty as anyone of the generic “This year I will travel more” resolution. Trouble is, that is so vague. Motivational experts tell us to be specific in order to turn dreams into reality. Instead of just resolving to hit the road, put a place in the picture. Maybe add in who will go with you, and what you’ll do when you get there. Then be daring: add a date. In short, make a plan, not a resolution.
When you’ve accomplished that goal, fill in the blanks again. Dream, plan, go, repeat. Let it become a habit.
2. Practice Travel
Some people make traveling look effortless, maybe even glamorous. You’ve seen them at the airport, perfectly coiffed and composed, regardless of the mayhem around them. What the heck?
Practice makes perfect, right? Which begs the question, how does one practice the fine art of travel?
A lot of it is on-the-job training. Every trip is a dress rehearsal for the next one. Along the way, you learn things that will make the next trip that much better. (It’s probably more accurate to say we make a mistake on every trip, and learn not to do that again!)
To take a more active, intentional approach to improving your travel skills, think about the last few trips you’ve taken. Make a list of things you think could have gone better. (For us, it’s not leaving enough free time in our plans.) Next to that, brainstorm ways to improve. Then, try out your new ideas on your next trip, or sooner if you can.
If you feel like you need to be a better packer, do a dry run for an upcoming trip. Need to get better at using buses and subways? Become a master of the transit systems in your city, and you’ll find many skills apply around the world. Before long, you’ll be one of those Master Travelers that glides through the airport with style and panache. (Yeah, we’re still working at that, too.)
3. Explore Your Neighborhood
One of the more dubious contributions of the new millennium is the portmanteau “staycation”. (Although, we love the word portmanteau. #WordNerds) It was a response to the rising expense of family vacations, and has enjoyed a rather negative connotation. The more you think about it, though, the more appealing a vacation in your own city seems. In fact, we’d say it’s an important thing to do. We hear repeatedly from travelers that they know more about foreign lands than their own city. That’s a shame, but it’s easy to rectify.
Traveling starts at your own front door. Getting to know the area around your door is good practice for getting to know other neighborhoods. (See that? Practicing Travel is easy!) The more you explore and discover about your city, the more you’ll find parallels and differences to appreciate when you travel. You’ll inevitably be asked about where you come from. With your new found familiarity, you are the de facto ambassador for your town!
4. Leave Nothing but Footprints
At least one of us here was a Boy Scout, and grew up hiking and camping in America’s National Parks with a mentality of packing out everything you pack in. Leave nothing but footprints*. This is how we should all travel, particularly in natural areas, National Parks and Monuments, beaches and…well, everywhere. Unless you find a trash can (that’s not already overflowing), pack out what you packed in. That’s why your jeans have pockets.
When was the last time you heard of people lining up to take a photo of the garbage on an otherwise pristine beach? How many times have you gone to an ancient site to see the modern graffiti? Don’t you just love it when people damage natural landscapes or even man-made marvels?
— Yellowstone Insider (@ystoneinsider) May 16, 2016
Of course this isn’t you. You love our world, and want your children – and millions of others – to be able to enjoy and love it, too. That’s why you resolve to leave nothing but footprints, right?
Truth is, we already knew that about you, because you’re our kind of people. Still, it’s a resolution we all should make, year after year. (*Snow angels and sand castles are also acceptable, and highly encouraged!)
5. Go Someplace Not New
In our first Five Traveling New Year Resolutions, we included the sage advice, “At least once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” Good advice, to be sure, but we think there is great value in going someplace you have been before, also.
Let’s face it, there are some places you can visit a dozen times and still just be scratching the surface. A destination doesn’t have to be as big and broad as, say, New York City to warrant a repeat, though. When you go back to any destination, you get to know it more intimately. You can focus on more than just the main attractions or events. You get to see the destination in a new light or, perhaps, a different season. Without the pressure of checking off a Must-See list, you are free to explore and discover the gems that make a place unique.
Revisiting can make the trip much less stressful, too. You have a better idea of where to go, what to do, and how to get around. With those mysteries solved, you can relax and enjoy. You can begin to experience life as a local, however temporary.
Test Your Resolutions
Whatever you resolve for the coming year, we hope you’ll test that resolution often. Like fitness or willpower, it needs to be worked out. It needs commitment and nourishment. It needs the attention of a daily to-do in order to move from resolution to habit to character.
We wish you all the best in keeping your travel resolutions in the coming days and years. Whether for New Year’s, or throughout the year, we’d love to hear what your travel resolutions are in the comments!
Happy New Year from everyone at TravelLatte.