2020 is not only a brand new year, but also a brand new decade, so what better time to set some new goals. But, instead of setting the usual unrealistic weight loss or workout goals, why not start the year by setting some travel resolutions? Personally, we think that’s much more fun.
Try a couple each time you travel and see which ones impact your experience most positively. Let us know what you try and how it goes in the comments below.
1. Make more time for travel
Do you regularly find yourself scrolling through travel accounts on Instagram, lusting after beautiful destinations and wishing you had more time to explore all of these amazing places? 2020 is the year to make time. While many of us may be restricted by annual leave allowances, there are ways to take advantage of the time you have. Are there places that you can feasibly visit just for a weekend? When a public holiday falls on a Monday could you take the Friday off and get a fantastic four-day weekend while only using one day’s annual leave? Trying these two ideas to make the most of the time available could open up lots of great trips to nearby places and, if you’re feeling brave, go ahead and ask your boss for some extra days of unpaid leave so you can take that dream trip - the worst that can happen is that your request is politely declined.
2. Travel at a different time of year
Traditionally, many of us take a big annual holiday during the summer months, but have you ever thought about mixing it up and going at a different time? There are huge benefits to this, including less competition with colleagues to take annual leave, being able to enjoy the glorious summer weather at home and, sometimes, cheaper flights.
3. Travel to new destinations
Travelling at a different time of the year also opens up lots of new destinations, for example much of Sri Lanka is best visited between December and May, the famous cherry blossom season in Tokyo is around April each year, and if you visit Mexico at the beginning of November you can join the Dia de los Muertos celebrations made famous by Daniel Craig in the James Bond Spectre movie.
4. Make new connections
In the 21st century, travel is easier than ever before, allowing us to visit more destinations and experience more cultures different from our own. It also brings us into contact with people we might otherwise never meet. Take advantage of this opportunity to make new connections and try to speak to one new person each day. At worst, this will be a one-off encounter that lasts for five awkward minutes, but perhaps that chance meeting will turn into a lifelong friendship that truly enriches your life - you'll never know if you don't try!
5. Experiment with packing
How many times have you packed almost your whole wardrobe, including a whole bunch of brand new holiday outfits, and dragged a bulging suitcase to the airport that’s almost too heavy to lift onto the baggage belt, only to wear a fraction of what you’ve taken? For your next holiday, why not try taking carry-on only? We love the Vapour Overnighter backpack by Canadian outdoors brand MEC. It’s the perfect carry-on dimensions for most airlines and it opens like a suitcase, making it easy to pack and easy to find things without digging to the bottom of the backpack.
Make packing even easier using packing cubes like these. While packing carry-on only for hot destinations may seem like a piece of cake - how much space can ten bikinis take up?! - packing carry-on only may seem impossible for a winter holiday, but Kristin Addis has written a great piece about How to Pack Carry-On Only in the Winter (And Still Look Fabulous)!
6. Spend local
A successful trip is made up of a multitude of factors - the people you go with, the places you stay, the food you eat and the places you visit. Why not make 2020 the year that you commit to investing in the communities you visit by seeking out locally-owned hotels, eating at local restaurants, hiring local guides and buying locally made mementos? Not only will you get the feel-good factor of knowing your money is benefiting the local community, but you’re like to get a much more authentic experience, too.
7. Learn the lingo
Learning the local language of the country you’ll be travelling to is not only helpful for you, but it’s also a great way to build connections with local people, which can help to give you a more authentic experience. Unless you’re seriously dedicated and have a lot of time on your hands pre-trip, you’re probably not going to learn enough to have an in-depth discussion, but taking the time to learn a few simple words and phrases can be invaluable. For each of our trips, we'll send you some key phrases in the local language to help you prepare.
8. Travel to change the world
If you want to travel but also want to minimise your impact on the environment, an easy place to start both at home and away is with reusable drinks containers. At Unmapped we love a Keep Cup for hot drinks - they come in a range of beautiful colours and the plastic ones are lightweight so they won't weigh you down. For water we're huge fans of the LifeStraw range - it comes with a replaceable double filter system in the straw, which protects against a whole range of nasties, meaning that you can fill up from taps in most countries without getting ill. Be sure to use both of these options on your flights as well, rather than accepting single-use plastic and paper cups.
9. Photographs: quality over quantity
Now that almost all of us have the option of taking instant photos with smartphones or digital cameras, we spend much more time experiencing things through the viewfinder, rather than with our own eyes. While this is fantastic for capturing moments that we can look back on for years to come, constantly clicking that lens shutter can sometimes stop us from truly enjoying that moment. On your next holiday, try to consider the composition and framing of your photographs carefully before capturing one or two thoughtful photographs, then putting the camera away and immersing yourself in the experience.
10. Savour the moment
While technology allows us to keep in touch with loved ones while we're away, it can also prevent us from truly experiencing everything that's on offer during our trip. We might be so busy uploading envy-inducing photos to Instagram that we don't even see the splash of a humpback whale on the horizon. Instead of checking your Twitter feed or looking on Facebook at what you were doing on this date five years ago, why not take the opportunity to disconnect your device and instead recharge your own batteries? After letting people know you've arrived safely, turn your phone off, put it in your bag and enjoy your freedom!
11. Try a solo trip
Do you usually travel with a partner or friends? Make 2020 the year you take a solo adventure. Traveling alone offers a whole host of benefits: you choose the destination; you choose the travel dates; you choose the itinerary. Traveling alone gives you the opportunity to meet new people, as well as getting to know yourself better. Worried you'll get lonely or not quite ready to go it alone? Join one of our small-group tours and you’ll be travelling with a small group of people, just like you!
This post was written by Kay Bee. Kay is an international teacher, currently living in Yangon Myanmar. She blogs about travel and expat life in El Salvador and South East Asia.