It’s that time of year again! New beginnings, new ideas, and our heads full of fantasies of new travel adventures.
People are always talking about taking their “dream vacation” — but largely what people mean when they say this is that every detail of the trip was planned flawlessly, everything went according to plan, and the service and food were stellar.
What if the key to having the best vacations of your life has as much to do with how you approach traveling as it does with where you go and the number of stars on your hotel?
Here are 5 New Year’s Resolutions you can make right now to make 2017 the best year of travel yet:
1. I resolve to take responsibility for enjoying my vacation. Sounds weird, right? Especially since we often think an enjoyable vacation means that nothing goes wrong. I mean, what if your flight is late? What if they lose your bags? What if the hotel shower has terrible water pressure? What if you get seasick — or worse? What if your passport gets stolen?
If you resolve to be the one who decides if you enjoy your time, then you get to decide how you’re going to respond to each situation and what you’re going to make of it. Is it going to be a catastrophe that ruins your trip — or fodder for an exciting story at your next dinner party?
2. I resolve to take myself less seriously. Traveling is an act of vulnerability, especially if you’re headed someplace where the language, food, and culture are vastly different form your own. You don’t have to be an expert; you don’t even really have to know what’s going on. If you make a mistake, the world will not end. The more easily you can laugh at yourself, the easier you’ll be to travel with — and the more fun you’ll have.
3. I resolve to stay curious and humble. The world is full of surprises. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be amazed by what you discover. Ever wonder why it’s so much fun to see regular everyday “boring” things through the eyes of a kid? They don’t know that they’re supposed to be “cool” and avoid looking silly in front of others — they just experience everything as if it’s the most amazing thing that’s ever happened. And you know what? They’re almost always having way more fun than those of us over 30. As adults, we have the choice to let go of cynicism and embrace wonder.
4. I resolve to trust more and be more generous. Anyone who loves to travel will tell you this: the world is mainly populated by good-hearted people who will extend help and hospitality when and if you need it. While it’s always wise to be aware and educated on potential scams and dangers — the truth is, 99 people out of 100 will gladly help you out of jam and will go out of their way to show you the best spirit of their culture. Open up a little and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. And inevitably, you’ll have experiences and make real connections that will stay with you for years to come.
5. I resolve to let go of my attachment to The Plan. Perhaps above all, being a great traveler means you have to be flexible. Things don’t always go according to plan — and wonderful things can happen as a result. Think of the “wrong” turn you took that brought you to the most breathtaking vineyard you’d ever seen. Or the cancelled day trip that led to a day of meandering through spice-scented streets where you had the best curry of your life. Or the delayed train that allowed you to have late-afternoon tea with a charming shop owner in a crowded bazaar.
In the most significant ways, like all of the rest of life, the most valuable and memorable parts of traveling can’t be planned. That is the enduring beauty and draw of striking out on a new adventure.
What are your Travel Resolutions for 2017? Share your ideas!