No point in denying it: New Year’s resolutions are a total cliché. Finishing in a close second: blog articles about New Year’s resolutions. However, frequently things that become clichés got that way because there was a nugget of universal truth lurking in there somewhere. Here’s the nugget in this one: if you don’t set any goals for your life, then everything happens by pure chance. And while it’s always good to be open to whatever the universe serves up on your plate, using random occurrence as the sole guiding principle on your life’s journey won’t get you very far. So why not set a few objectives, and why not set them at the beginning of a new year, when there’s just a general feeling of renewal in the air?
Now, there are plenty of resolutions lists that deal with stuff like diet and exercise, and we’ll just leave those lists to the folks who specialize in those fields. International travel insurance is our little corner of the sandbox, so here are 10 New Year’s Travel Resolutions you may want to adopt as your own!
1. Step outside your comfort zone
Do you find yourself traveling to similar places time after time? Maybe even the exact same country? Time to break to mold! It’s a big world and you only get 75 years or so to check it out – don’t limit yourself! If you’ve only traveled to Europe, why not step outside your norm into the Middle East or Asia and immerse yourself completely in something new. New Year, new destinations!
2. Take a solo trip
International travel and karaoke have something in common: you’re tempted to do them with a friend, so it’ll be less uncomfortable. In the case of international travel, you should resist this temptation at least once in your life. People who never travel alone are closing themselves off from one of life’s most rewarding experiences. There’s nothing more liberating than traveling alone, realizing what you are capable of and pushing your limits. You’ll discover more about yourself in a week away alone than multiple trips away with a friend—guaranteed. You’ll meet new people you might never have approached if you’d had a companion in tow, and with only yourself to rely on, you’ll discover reserves of resourcefulness and resolve you never suspected you had!
3. Travel in a more environmentally friendly way
It’s great to want to explore the world, but nowadays, the reality is that you need to balance that craving with something else: the need to protect the planet for future generations’ exploration. Reducing our carbon footprint is a great way to travel consciously and a wonderful resolution to help protect the earth. There are a myriad of ways to do it, too, from just packing lighter to offsetting your trip’s carbon debt with a donation to an organization that’ll put it to work in one of their earth-saving projects, like wind farming or water reclamation. Check out this recent PCU blog post for five ways to make your trip more eco-friendly.
4. Learn a new language
Even when you aren’t actually on the road, you can plan and get excited for your next trip by learning the local language. There are lots of wonderful free apps available, such as Duolingo, that can kick-start you on your way to making a great impression when you get there. It makes traveling much easier when you know basic phrases and the effort you put in will always be appreciated by the native speakers. If your efforts don’t go to plan, make sure you have a handy speaking translator on your phone you can cheat with (there are lots of those, too).
5. Make the most of weekend breaks
Plan ahead, and don’t waste those weekends! You don’t need to go far to get traveling and exploring. So as soon as 5pm Friday rolls around, get out there, drive to a city you’ve never been to before or jump on a short flight. Line it up with a national holiday and all of a sudden, it’s a 3- or 4-day jaunt! Planning is crucial to maximize your time, but if you go away even one weekend every two months, that’s an extra 6 trips a year—and that’s not just us talking here, that’s math talking.
6. Get saving some money
Look, travel isn’t always the cheapest hobby—the ability to save up some money is going to be key. One way you can make it happen is to edit down some of your monthly subscriptions—do you really need both the Apple and Amazon Music services (it’s all just the same music, right?)? Or kick it old school with a good old-fashioned piggy bank. Any loose change goes straight in, and once it’s full, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve socked away. If you get paid through automatic deposit, you might even be able to set your your account to take a certain amount off the top every pay period and put it in a separate savings account – a digi-piggybank, if you will.
7. Live in the moment
Sometimes we get caught up in the stresses of everyday life and forget to actually enjoy what we’re doing! It’s important to stop, switch off (especially our devices) and take in the moment. Be present in the room and appreciate all that we have around us. As the revered philosopher Ferris Bueller once said: life moves pretty fast - if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it.
8. Try something new
Set an ungoal: while traveling, don’t do any activities you’ve done before, and don’t eat any dish you’ve tried before. You’ll be amazed at how many new things you can fit into one day. Avoid the continental breakfast and see what the locals like to break their fast with.
Traveling in Thailand? Take a Muay Thai kickboxing class! Sauntering through Sri Lanka? Go on safari! Puttering around the praia in Portugal? Pick up a board and take a surfing lesson!If it’s something you wouldn’t normally do, then it’s exactly what you should be doing! You only get 75 years or so to check out what this world has to offer …heyyy, didn’t we already have this pep talk way back in Resolution #1?
9. Reconnect with an old travel buddy
Why not pick up the phone and call someone you met while traveling to see how they’re doing these days? At the very least, you get to catch up with a friend - nothing wrong with that – and chances are it could lead to new adventures together!
10. Make a difference
Challenge yourself to give back when you travel and find out how rewarding it can be. You could try a volunteering program, help teach children or even start as small by organizing or participating in a beach clean-up while you are away. If we all made small differences, it could ultimately add up to a HUGE difference. Projects Abroad’s Voluntourism page is a good place to find a project and destination that align with your altruistic travel goals. You will never regret energy spent making the world a better place than it was when you showed up.
You only get this one life …why not live the best possible version of it? And, cliché or not, taking inspiration from one or more of these 10 Travel Resolutions for 2020 might be just the thing to get yours pointed in the right direction. Happy New Year, and good luck!