11 Do-able New Year’s Resolutions For Travelers

I had just two New Year’s Resolutions:

1. No chocolate before noon.

2. Reading all news articles sent to me by my mother before the day’s end.

And less than three weeks into the year, I’m ashamed to admit that, many days ago, both resolutions fell to the wayside; Cocoa Pops have made an appearance at countless of my breakfasts, and, impressively, I have amassed more mother-sent news articles than spam in my inbox.

The good news: Not all is lost when a few New Year’s resolutions prove unsuccessful. And the even better news is that, for travelers, New Year’s resolutions can begin now, weeks after January 1st.

Hiking guides in Australia may intend to increase their gym visits to maintain a high level of fitness, food tour guides in London may set out to try more off-the-beaten-path Gastropubs that haven’t already been listed in our article on London’s best spots for Gastropub-cuisine, and fishing guides in Alaska may strive to assist their guests in catching more fish than ever before, but the average traveler will also benefit from setting attainable travel-related resolutions.

Read on to learn just how you can improve your travel both in quantity and, most importantly, quality.

1. Begin a travel fund

Stash away money for your next trip by opening an account with your online bank labelled “Travel Fund.” Another option is to set up an account in Venmo specifically for traveling, and each time you do something, for example –  buy a coffee, you put the equal amount into your travel fund. A friend of mine started a swear jar space in his Venmo account, and each time he swears, he adds a dollar to the account. In the same vein, you could set up a “Travel Jar,” and each time you think about traveling, you add x amount of money to the account. The result: by the year’s end you’ll have ample money to make your dreams reality, plus extra to hire a talented guide to make your impressive efforts that much more worthwhile!

2. Voyage into unchartered territory

While traveling to familiar places may be comforting, add color to 2015 by exploring new lands. This year, take advantage of tour guides worldwide; while it’s their job to make your trip memorable, it’s also their passion. Embrace new cultures and cuisines, and embrace new knowledge and a deeper sense of connection to the world.

3. Sacrifice…to save

Going along with the theme of putting aside money in a travel fund, it’s also beneficial to resolve to sacrifice little things you habitually purchase that may not be crucial to daily functioning. For example, the next time you feel inclined to pick up a soda to fuel your afternoon’s productivity, reconsider your choice; instead, put that money toward your forthcoming journey.

4. Embrace the bumpy road

Keep the bigger picture in mind when traveling (the bigger picture being the awesome walking tour guides you’re about to explore Paris with, the fabulous art tour guides you’re about to experience Brazil alongside, or the adventurous kayaking guides you’re about to tour Australia beside), and don’t get too disheartened by travel inconveniences that may arise. Engage the inner zen of yoga guides from Hawaii to India, and keep cool, calm and collected on squished, tardy flights, or when dealing with noisy hotel rooms, screaming babies, and surly customer service airline reps. The bottom line is that you’re fortunate to be traveling, so embrace the few downfalls as best you can.

5. (Temporarily) ditch technology

To gain the most from your travels, set aside your cell phones, iPads, and all other electronic devices; without them, you will be forced to mingle with locals, in turn garnering priceless cultural insights. Hiring a guide is one way to abandon technology without even noticing; their commentaries and the thrilling adventures they have mapped out for you will leave you with not one moment to even think about the number of “likes” your latest Facebook status scored.

6. Leave expectations at home

To avoid disappointment and other negative feelings that will hinder the enjoyment of your well-deserved holiday, leave expectations of what your destination will be like at home. Without preconceived ideas of how your vacation will pan out, you will be more open to one-of-a-kind experiences that will leave you with lasting memories. In his interview with GuideAdvisor, Akhilesh Chandra Mishra expressed, “countries, like people, are different…we must accept everything for what it is,” specifically implying that people benefit most from traveling open-minded and judgement-free.  

7. Pack light

Packing light is a resolution you will be forever grateful for making. Not only will you save money on the baggage fees many airlines now charge, you’ll save yourself headache-inducing hassle. To learn the best ways to pack light, check out our article, “12 Tips: How to Travel with Hand Luggage ONLY.”

8. Abide by the motto, “It’s all about quality, not quantity”

Get a deeper sense of the region you’re visiting by staying there longer, sacrificing visiting other places for the sake of delving wholeheartedly into one locale, or, at maximum, a small handful of spots. Not only does spending more time in one place mean you’ll gain a richer insight into the area, it means you’ll be able to feel more like a local, in turn fully benefiting from the surroundings. Slow down: taking the time to absorb even the smallest of details will improve your traveling experience; it’s not about the number of places you see, it’s about how thoroughly you see them.

Guides around the world are excellent resources for fully gaining from a single locale. Instead of going on one guided tour of the place you’re visiting, sign up for several that specialize in different areas. For example, if you’re visiting France, meet up with a food tour guide, a wine tour guide, a walking tour guide, and a nightlife tour guide, to name just a few options. Each guide will give you fresh insights into the area, and each has his or her own fascinating stories to share.

9. Kick comfort to the curb

While holidays are about treating yourself, sometimes it’s best to put comfort aside while traveling. By no means do I suggest you hang out in the dark alleys on the shady side of town, but rather that you try things you’d otherwise pass on. Like what? Why, anything from trying cockroach kebabs in Asia to surfing giant waves in Australia. Perhaps even traveling solo can be your challenge. Whatever it is, you may not like the experience — eating frog’s legs isn’t everyone’s favorite — but at least you’ll have a unique and fascinating story to tell upon your return. At a loss as to how you can challenge yourself? Panic not, we’ve got you covered with paragliding guides from Brazil to the Himalayas, canyoneering guides from Hawaii to Switzerland, ziplining guides from Peru to Canada, and dune buggy tour guides from Dubai to Marrakech.

10. Learn the local language

Learning a few words of the local language can go a long way. First, a simple “please” and “thank you” can improve your standing with the locals, and second, phrases like, “Where is the bathroom,” can prove life-saving. While guided tours are, more often than not, conducted in English, tour guides worldwide will happily let you in on some of their area’s most valuable expressions.

11. Live by your mother’s advice, “Don’t say you don’t like it until you’ve tried it”

If you’re a mac-and-cheese hound, eating out of your comfort zone won’t be hard to do, but it’s something all travelers should embrace. Eating adventurously doesn’t have to mean jellyfish in Jinan or blood pudding in Ballybunion, but it should break past turkey sandwiches. Push your limits as best you can; even if you don’t like the meal, at least you will have gained a truly unique cultural experience. One of my favorite stories to tell entails eating “butcher’s brains” in Romania, and while I barely battled my way through three bites of the gooey mess, it’s a memory I’ll cherish forever.

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