Another new year, another set of resolutions that’ll be toast by Valentine’s Day. Swearing off carbs or cola? Admirable, for sure, but not particularly interesting or realistic. Why not deviate from the norm and make some resolutions you can actually look forward to keeping? This year, we’re resolving to make 2013 unforgettable–by hook or by crook (or plane, train, or rickshaw). Here are six travel resolutions to get you started.
1. Go it alone. We’re not saying you have to take six months to backpack through Europe or hike the Appalachian Trail to “find yourself.” (Though how cool would that be?) A weekend getaway to somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit can be just as illuminating. What would you do if you only had to worry about yourself? Linger in a museum, take a long walk to nowhere, try a crazy new food, or experiment with the settings on your camera–the possibilities are fabulously overwhelming. If vacationing on your own just isn’t in the cards, take a couple hours for yourself on your next family trip. You’ll return relaxed, refocused, and hopefully with a great story to share with your loved ones.
2. Use your vacation days. Though Americans receive fewer vacation days than other industrialized nations–only 12 on average–we actually use even less. It could be because we’re worried about how the boss will respond; or perhaps we just don’t think we can swing it financially. But those days are there for a reason. How you use them is up to you–just don’t spend them at work!
Invest in a swanky new luggage set for your year of adventures–the American Tourister POP 3-Piece Luggage Set and the Swiss Army Luggage Spinner Lite 3 Piece Set are solid choices. Durable and attractive, three pieces of luggage instead of just one ensures that you’re ready for anything, whether it’s an overnight at a B&B or two weeks in Australia. (And we love the color options of the American Tourister set. A bright blue suitcase is hard to miss on the luggage carousel!)
3. Break out of your comfort zone. A cruise or resort trip can be tempting, for sure–and they both have their merits. But how many times can you visit a beach before they all start to blend together? This year, try something you’ve never tried before. You don’t have to possess the gastrointestinal fortitude of Andrew Zimmern to get the full effect, either. Tackle a challenging hike if it promises a great view. Haggle like a local at an open-air market. Visit a place of worship that’s different from your own. Ask questions. Keep an open mind. Be curious. Challenge yourself. After all, isn’t that why we travel in the first place?
4. Cross the language barrier. Don’t let a different language–or a different alphabet altogether–keep you from visiting your dream destinations. Obviously being fluent is helpful, but locals won’t expect an outsider to be completely conversational. Master a few key phrases before you go, and use them often–even if you suspect that your conversational partner knows English. It’s much more acceptable to make an effort, even a mediocre one, than it is to assume the rest of the world will accommodate you.
5. Relax. Things will go awry on even the most meticulously prepared trips. Flights will be delayed. Weather will be uncooperative. Lines will be long. Maps will be outdated. You won’t see everything you wanted to see–and that’s okay. It’s understandable to get frustrated once in awhile, but don’t let it ruin your (or your companion’s) trip. Make peace with the circumstances, reevaluate your priorities, and try to find the upside to every situation–there’s always at least one, even if it’s merely the promise of a great story to tell later on.
6. Say “yes” to adventure. “YOLO” may have jumped the shark, but the sentiment is still as relevant as ever. Even if you’re strapped for cash or time, opportunities to travel are always there–if you’re open to them. Volunteering, homestays, couch-surfing, and hostels are all economical (and eye-opening!) options. Even a mundane business trip can offer adventure–ever seen “Up in the Air”? Though the really intrepid can close their eyes and pick a random spot on the globe, most of us have to be a little more prudent. Don’t forgo common sense in the name of adventure, but remember that no great story ever started with “no.”