The new year is upon us, and with it come the new year’s resolutions that we have the best intentions of keeping (but, admittedly, typically fall by the wayside come February).
This year, though, I suggest we all try a different tactic – a set of resolutions that foster health, wellness, a sense of adventure and fun … in short, a set of resolutions specifically for travel.
And there’s no time that we’ve needed to travel more: Bloomberg News reported earlier this year that the average American leaves 8.1 vacation days unused annually. It’s affecting our health, our productivity, and our sense of well-being. (And frankly, it’s not much of a life, either.) So I say we change this tactic in 2015 and resolve to use all our vacation days—and use them to see more of this gorgeous and awe-inspiring planet we call home.
Indeed, I’m hard pressed to think of another set of resolutions that would be as rewarding to keep, or a set of goals that would have as much anticipation toward completion – quite the opposite of the typical new year’s resolutions.
Here are my five new year’s resolutions for travel in 2015; I heartily invite you to make them yours, too.
Travel New Year’s Resolution #1: Leave Your Comfort Zone
I’ve always been curious about travel to Asia, but always changed course when it finally came time to plan a trip. Three key excuses—the language barrier, the long flights, and the costs—deterred me in the past, but not so for 2015: I’m hoping to have a grand Asia adventure this year, and am taking old friends along for the ride as well. I’m excited and fully expect an exhilarating, eye-opening experience. So where’s your destination that’s always been just out of reach? What could you do there this year, if you didn’t let your sense of comfort and familiarity dictate your choices? Plan a trip to wherever the heart-pumping, I-hope-to-go-there-someday destination is for you. It’s a new year, a fresh start: Now really is the time.
Travel New Year’s Resolution #2: Make—and Stick to—a Realistic Budget
Of course, even with a lofty travel resolution, there are the very real issues of expenses. That’s why the new year is a perfect time to start budgeting. Determine the cost of your trip well before your departure—everything from transportation to in-country daily expenses—and start prepping now so you don’t have sticker shock later. Research flights, hotels, and other travel costs in advance. For spending money once you’re on vacation, take the long view approach, too: Months beforehand, set aside a portion of your paycheck, enroll in a vacation club savings plan at your local bank, compile all your loose change and your $1 or $5 bills each week—whatever it takes to make your travel goal happen.
Travel New Year’s Resolution #3: Commit to Unplugging While Away
Remember that stat about Americans not using their vacation time? Well, in another depressing statistic, a TripAdvisor survey showed that when we do take trips, 77 percent of us still check in with the office. This stems from the “work martyr complex”, according to the U.S. Travel Association, and can contribute to excess burnout and guilt – exactly the opposite of the benefits one gets from getting away from work on vacation (rest, relaxation, and recharging in a stress-free environment). So when you’re planning your 2015 trips, resolve to really get away – no checking work email, no texting with your colleagues during your time off. If you’re concerned this may be frowned upon, start communications with your supervisors and colleagues early and reinforce that you will not be available during your vacation time. Be clear, consistent, and transparent – and if you get push back, show them the data.
Travel Resolution #4: Support the Local Economy Wherever You Go
A great benefit of travel is seeing what’s local all around the world. Whether you choose small inns and pensiones, mom-and-pop restaurants, handmade goods from local markets, and/or local tour guides, your tourism dollars go toward directly supporting the economy of the region you’re visiting. You’ll also learn a lot about local customs, traditions, and culture, too. So resolve to go local on your 2015 travels and see how much your horizons expand—and how far your dollars truly can go.
Travel Resolution #5: Choose the Right Travel Companions
As I’ve discussed earlier, nothing kills a trip quicker than realizing you and your travel companions have completely different expectations for your overall vacation. By choosing the right group of people to accompany you—those aligned with you in temperament, interests, and budget—and communicating with them clearly and often, you’ll avoid any misunderstandings and ensure everyone makes the most of their precious vacation time. Resolve to find your best travel companions to join you on your 2015 travel adventures, then hit the road or take to the skies!
Where are you hoping to go in 2015? Share your own unique travel resolutions by leaving a comment below!
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Photo courtesy Kat via Flickr Creative Commons