With the new year lurking just around the corner, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be bombarded with ads about January gym discounts and the latest methods for quitting smoking. But for those travel enthusiasts out there who are in good health – or have simply grown weary of cliché New Year’s resolutions – 2018 is the time to finally address those bucket list items you keep putting off. Let’s discuss how to turn your dream destinations into adventure actualities with these inspiring travel resolutions for the year ahead.
1 Actually Use Your Vacation Time
Remember those vacation days you’ve been hoarding like gold for the past few years? Were you planning to save those for retirement? It may seem unbelievable, but only 51% of Americans actually use the vacation time allotted to them. And, by the time they do finally get around to taking time off, the majority spend their time working!
Well, this year, it’s time to take your well-deserved vacation days for what they were intended: vacation. Holding onto them doesn’t make you a better worker, it just makes you more irritable, less focused, and much more likely to burn yourself out. Vacation time is about more than sipping fancy drinks with cocktail umbrellas in them (although you should always take those if offered). It’s about clearing your head, hitting refresh, and giving yourself a new perspective. In fact, bosses everywhere have become wise to the value of vacation time, which is why more and more companies have started offering unlimited PTO as an incentive. The idea is simple: give employees a chance to step away from their work and they’ll return happier, healthier, and more productive.
2 Travel to Your Top Bucket List Place
Ah, the good old bucket list. That thing that grows longer and less attainable with each passing year. This year, resolve to change that. Start by focusing on that one place that you’re just dying to see. The one that keeps you up at night. That far off dream place that you’ve been “meaning to see for years.” Yeah, you know the one.
Think about what it would take for you to finally make that place a reality this year. More money? More vacation time? Learning a new language? Pinpoint whatever it is that’s been holding you back and bring your focus to a solution. Make a specific plan and hold yourself accountable to it. If it’s simply procrastination, surprise yourself and buy those plane tickets. Still want a failsafe? Purchase insurance on them in case you have a change of heart. Chances are, you won’t need it.
3 Go Somewhere New
Has your beach house become a bit stale? Does vacation feel just like being at home but in a different place? If so, branch out and plan a trip somewhere completely new this year. Keep in mind that new doesn’t have to mean expensive, exotic, or even international – it just has to be a change. Granted, isn’t that the whole purpose of a getaway in the first place?
If you need some travel inspiration, check out this comprehensive list broken down into categories of interest. Or, if you’re feeling particularly bold, why not spin the globe and see where you land? If nothing else, it’ll be a fun exercise and may even open your mind up to something you wouldn’t have originally considered.
4 Take a Solo Adventure
There’s nothing quite like exploring a new place on your own, and if you’ve never traveled solo before, you’re in for a treat. With no one there to question your itinerary and no need to negotiate how you spend your time, traveling by yourself is truly the ultimate freedom. Believe it or not, many solo travelers find that they enjoy a more fulfilling trip and meet new people they never would have connected with had they gone with a partner or in a group. So if solo travel is something you’ve been itching for, make 2018 your year. You may just be surprised how much confidence you’ll gain and how much you’ll learn about yourself when left to your own devices.
5 Prioritize Experiences Over Material Things
If you value the experience of travel more than material items (and chances are you do if you’re reading this), make a concerted effort to really prioritize travel this year. One of the best ways to do this is to track how you’re spending money. Do you really need that fifth Starbucks latte and manicure this week? Or would you rather save for that getaway you’ve been pining for? Making these seemingly small adjustments in your spending habits can really add up, and before you know it, that dream destination may not be such a distant fantasy.
6 Unplug on Your Travels
With the ubiquity of social media and everyone being so reliant on their smart phones, travel has become less about being in the moment and more about getting that perfect shot for Instagram. If you find that your vacations slip by while you’re lost behind a screen, make the effort to unplug. If your phone typically serves as your GPS while you’re away, chances are you’re using it for much more than getting around. Try bringing a map instead and leaving your phone behind in the hotel safe occasionally. If you don’t have it on you, it’ll be much easier to be present and enjoy your surroundings.
If you find it’s too difficult to completely cut the cord, set aside a designated time each day to briefly check your messages and respond to emails. After the allotted time has passed, put your phone away and allow yourself to disconnect. If you’re worried about not being able to share your travels with your various social networks, keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with sharing your adventures after you return and posting “latergrams”, as it were. Besides, you’ll have much more compelling stories to tell the more you can actually live in the moment as opposed to being glued to your screen.
7 Go with the Flow
Everyone who has ever traveled knows that even the most organized itineraries never go exactly according to plan. Between unpredictable weather conditions, long ticket lines at popular attractions, and unforeseen traffic conditions, it’s impossible to plan for every outcome while traveling. Instead, focus your energy on going with the flow this year. Allow yourself to welcome each moment as it comes instead of lamenting a plan that has gone awry. Sometimes the best adventures are the ones that are least expected.
8 Try a New Food
If you’re one of those people who insists on ordering chicken fingers in an Italian restaurant, perhaps this year is a good time to branch out. One of the best aspects of traveling to new destinations is the opportunity to try unique foods you may never have had the chance to enjoy. That’s not to say you need to have escargot if it repulses you, but at least make the effort to try one new food everywhere you go. Worse case scenario is you don’t like it and you never have it again. Best case, you open up your world to a new delicacy.
9 Improve Your Travel Photography
If you love documenting your trips but find that your low-quality selfies leave much to be desired, why not work on improving your travel photography this year? If you’re unhappy with the quality of photos on your phone, it may be time to invest in a higher quality camera, or perhaps borrow one from a friend. If you already have a good camera but find that it’s your skills that need work, maybe sign up for a photography class or teach yourself some basics through YouTube. The more confident you are behind the lens, the better you’ll be able to preserve the memories of your travels.
By putting an end to excuses, taking advantage of the time you have available, and making the most of your trips, 2018 just may be your best year of adventures yet. Here’s to grabbing that bucket list by the horns in the new year!