Grace Lower | Sep 6, 2017
Ahh, New Year’s Resolutions ...
Although they’re notoriously hard to keep, there’s something irresistible about kicking off a new year with bold ambitions. Given the challenges that came with 2016, you might find yourself approaching 2017 with high hopes for wealth, health, and success. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably added “travel” to your list of resolutions. So how do you turn your travel aspirations into reality? While there are plenty of methods, one that I find particularly interesting is the idea of approaching resolutions as questions. Rather than making a broad, declarative statement, like “I will travel more,” a comprehensive analysis of more than 100 studies suggests that asking questions like, “Will I travel more — yes or no?” is more likely to result in action.
If you answered “yes” to the question of travel, the next step is to take action by breaking that goal into manageable tasks. Here are a few more questions to help you embrace your sense of adventure in 2017.
What Do You Love to Do?
Take a minute to jot down a list of things that you love to do. Are you an avid golfer? A literature enthusiast? Can you spend all day wandering the halls of an art museum, or would you rather be hiking? Once you’ve created a sizeable list, read back through each of your interests. Notice any patterns?
No matter where you travel, you’ll want to make sure you have an opportunity to do what you enjoy, rather than simply sticking to the attractions that you should see in any given city. If you focus on what you love to do prior to picking your destination, you’ll be able to more easily center your trip on activities that excite and inspire you.
Where Will You Go?
Now that you’ve considered what you enjoy doing, find a destination where you can pursue that passion. Consider the time of year when you would ideally like to travel and remember to take factors like weather, tourist seasons, and national holidays into account.
One of my favorite ways to research destinations is by reading articles and blogs (like Seven Corners’, for instance). With a simple Google search of “best places to hike in Europe,” “best beaches in the Caribbean,” or “best cuisine in Asia,” you have access to a wealth of advice and personal experiences. Whether you’re reading a piece by Rick Steves or a blog post from your cousin in Europe, it’s helpful to gather a variety of perspectives prior to selecting a destination.
Do You Have Room in Your Budget?
One of the greatest challenges that comes with travel is how incredibly expensive it can be. As a recent college graduate, I’ve spent my share of time lamenting the high cost of airfare and the laughably steep fees associated with some of the world’s most beautiful places. When you make a resolution to travel, it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford.
Once you’ve selected a destination, sit down with a spreadsheet and take an honest look at your finances. If your savings can’t take a hit, how long will it take to save up for your trip? Depending on when and how you prefer to travel, the prices may vary.
While you certainly want to enjoy yourself, try to consider a variety of cost-cutting measures as you plan. Is it feasible to stock up on groceries rather than going out for every meal? Would you be willing to stay in a hostel or a cheaper hotel? How badly do you need to buy the V.I.P package for that museum? Be ruthless, but make sure you leave a bit of extra room in your travel budget — you never know when you’ll find an incredible souvenir or when you’ll need to fork over money for a late-night cab.
Who Will Join You?
Once you’ve determined that your trip is both personally and financially feasible, it’s time to think about who you might invite — if anyone. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the group dynamic among travel companions can make or break a trip. Be honest with yourself and with your travel goals before inviting just anyone to join you.
That said, a travel companion can be a great way to keep you accountable to your resolution. Just this past week, my sister and I had a frank conversation about our own travel goals. We’re hoping to travel to Europe together in a few years, so we’re going to give each other money to put toward travel rather than buying each other Christmas and birthday gifts. No matter your strategy, the right travel buddy — or group — can put you closer to your goals.
What Will You Do?
Once the planning process is underway, you’ll be tasked with figuring out what exactly you’ll do on your trip. This is a great time to return to the list that you made prior to researching your destination — how can you incorporate your own personal interests and hobbies into your itinerary? From there, take some time to research the key attractions in your destination and how long it takes to commute and complete each activity. As you pick your must-sees, try to limit your selection to 2-3 activities per day — this will prevent your trip from feeling like a scavenger hunt, and it will allow for spontaneity during your stay.
What’s Holding You Back?
As you work toward your goals, remember that there’s no perfect process for accomplishing your travel resolutions. Be patient with yourself, and don’t forget to edit along the way — after all, if your plans to visit the Swiss Alps don’t pan out, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a trip to the Rockies instead. Whether local or international, travel is meant to be an enriching experience. And as long as you can answer the question of travel with a confident “yes,” there’s nothing stopping you from making 2017 a year of adventure.
Grace Lower is a recent college graduate with a love for writing and an incurable case of wanderlust. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.