1| See less, experience more
Amend to stop being one of those travelers that gravitates towards the predictable, jam-packed travel itinerary full of touristy sights and famous landmarks. If your the type of person who needs a vacation after your vacation, I’m talking to you!! While jaunting from museum to museum, ticket stand to ticket stand might be your usual plan of attack on vacation, give your feet a rest and stop to really experience the city you’re in. If the only conversations you have during your trip are with waiters as you order a quick snack or bus drivers as you buy bus tickets, then you’re missing out on the whole reason you took a trip in the first place…to experience new cultures, walk the beaten path, and gain unforgettable memories. Travel shouldn’t be about getting it all done, but about collecting and savoring moments you’d be proud to tell your friends about.
2| Be taught.
Some of the best trips I’ve ever taken have taught me something about myself or the world around me. Strive this year to not only experience the cities you visit, but learn something about their way of life that you could possibly apply to yours. Take a cooking class, a dance seminar, or an art lesson, but whatever you do, dive deeper into each culture you encounter while traveling.
3| Tweak your travel style.
Do you prefer only the finest hotel accommodations and 4-course meals while traveling? Or are you a minimalist backpacker who frequents hostels and food carts? Maybe it’s time for a change! It’s so easy to get into a groove if you travel often an you forget there are other fun ways to travel. If you’re usually budget savvy, try upgrading your flight to business class or staying a night or two in a ultra-chic hotel. If you’re used to the finer things in life, maybe try a food festival or a picnic on the beach. Adventure junkie? Go for a relaxing massage or a quiet cottage vacation. Changing it up can help you to discover more to love about travel.
4| Minimize the travel clutter.
Are you one of those people who travel for a week, but pack like you’ll be gone a month? Lugging around more bags and stuff than you need while on vacation just adds stress. Make this the year you downsize your suitcase and only pack essentials. Invest in good travel gear (lightweight/quick-drying clothes, compression bags, mini toiletries) and travel light. It’s cheaper, easier, and so much more convenient! Besides, if you forget your toothbrush, you’ll likely be able to buy one.
5| Work for adventure.
I’m not usually one for going the super adventurous route during our travels. This year, I plan to brush off the fear and try more adrenaline-pumping activities while vacationing. Hiking, parasailing, skiing…getting active and exploring the world around you via some sweat, tears, and bruises can provide some of the most rewarding travel experiences. So get up, get out, and get moving!
6| Be a tourist at home.
Can’t get away from home this year? No funds for travel? You can still reap the benefits of a getaway by experiencing places and doing things you’ve never tried in your own home town! So many times we, as travelers, come back from fabulous vacations and forget about the exciting new restaurants, local festivals, and community events we’ve got going on right before us. Try to look at your familiar neighborhood with a fresh set of eyes. The adventure doesn’t start when you step foot off the plane, it starts in your own backyard.
7| Eat fearlessly.
Chances are, wherever you choose to travel, they’ll be a food there that you’ve never tried (or think you won’t like). Make this the year you throw caution to the wind, be adventurous, and take a bite! Try that strange meat on a stick from a street vendor in Morocco, take sip of the thick-as-mud coffee in Turkey, or eat bite of the bug you’d normally step on in Japan. If it sounds wacky, give it a go. You might be surprised to find you like it!
8| Connect with strangers.
Creating unique experiences is what every avid traveler craves. Some of the most memorable parts of visiting a new place is the connections you make with the locals, or even fellow travelers. If you’re used to keeping to yourself and avoiding interactions with people, maybe try striking up a conversation with a bartender or a stranger in a cafe. Pick the brain of a passerby for a great restaurant recommendation or get chummy with your tour guide. The locals know all the gems off the beaten path and are usually happy to share them with you! Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there…you’ll be amazed at the connections you make and the memories you’ll cherish for years to come.
9| Get HIGH.
It’s not what you’re thinking!! I don’t mean that kind of high…I mean take the opportunity to see your travel destination from the window of a belfry, the peaks of a mountain, or even the wings of a helicopter. I’m always so surprised when I get a spectacular view and wonder why that wasn’t the first thing I did upon arriving! Seeing your travel destination from up high will give you a different perspective and can help give you a sense of place so you can map out where you’d like to go next. The breathtaking scenery is just an added bonus! So, drop off those suitcases and go get high!
10| THIS is the year you finally do it.
No more excuses. No more fears. Stop self-sabatoging some of the greatest experiences of a lifetime and click that BOOKED button! Don’t let five, ten, or twenty years go by without before you take that trip to Fiji, hot air balloon over Cappadocia, or stomp grapes in Tuscany. Come up with short term goals and a plan to get there in 2014. Life’s to short to miss out on the joy of traveling this big, beautiful world. Cheers to making your travel dreams come true in the New Year!