As travellers, it’s our duty to have more outlandish and largely unobtainable New Year’s resolutions than non-travellers (whoever they are). It’s on us to raise the bar when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.
Some people commit to quitting smoking. Others commit to hitting the gym. But we reckon it’s better to commit to more than just quitting and hitting. What really gets us fired up to see something through is to make it as improbable as possible. Telling yourself you’re going to take up boxing is one thing, but going to Thailand and vowing to give your best mate a beat down in front of hundreds of locals is another thing entirely.
So, here are a few travel resolutions we’re going to try to tackle this year.
I will visit at least six different countries in the next 12 months
This might sound like a no-hoper, but it’s easier than you think. (As long as you have a job. Or — even better — really rich parents.) Head to Vietnam, for example, and you could take in Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand in the space of two to three weeks. That’s four done. Later in the year, you could visit Europe, South America, or Africa and completely blow your resolution out of the water.
Sure, you won’t be spending ages in each country, but your resolution didn’t specify how long you needed to spend in each country, did it? Keep up that momentum for 25 years or so and you’ll have been everywhere in the world. We are not great at math.
I will not be a spectator
For music fans, mediocrity is going to a gig and standing right at the back. For travellers, mediocrity is taking the safest route, not challenging yourself, and not getting involved. You know that feeling you get when you want to get out of the car/van/bus and walk through that thick patch of forest to find the river the shopkeeper told you about back in town, but you don’t? That’s your soul telling you that you suck.
Get involved. Get dirty. Take risks. Say yes to the world, and the world will say yes back. (Unless it says no. In which case, feel free to give the world your middle finger.)
I will ask every stranger I meet at least three questions about their life
This is similar to the above point, in that the idea is to make the most of every encounter you have. All that stuff about strangers being friends you haven’t met yet, about being able to learn new things from anyone, it’s all true. It’s corny as all hell, but it’s true.
Some people are natural talkers, but for those of us who struggle with the confidence in talking to strangers, just keep in mind three questions you want to ask people, no matter what country you’re in. You’ll learn more about their lives, their country, and yourself than you could possibly imagine. Get weird with your questions for bonus points.
I will tread lightly and help responsibly
This is similar to the usual ‘I will be a better person’ resolution that people try to stick to, but rather more tangible. It’s just thinking consciously about the kind of stuff you do and say when you’re in a country other than your own. Be mindful of customs and cultural sensitivities, leave as small a mark on the place as possible, clean up after yourself, and just generally refrain from being a douchebag. The world doesn’t need any more of those.
And if you want to have a punt at volunteering, make sure you’re doing something you’re actually good at, and that you’re not putting local people out of work.
I will do at least three things I’ve never done before
Abseiling. Paragliding. Eating a tarantula. Sleeping under the stars. Surfing. Diving. Skydiving. Hot air ballooning. Learning another language. The list is endless — and doing new things on the road makes being on the road that much more exciting.
I will ban myself from my phone
Modern life and technology has got us all wrapped up in a world of pixels, but letting this affliction seep in to your travel plans is the ultimate travel faux pas. Sure, use the thing as a tool to keep in touch with friends and family back home, but don’t keep your head buried in it day in, day out — you’re just wasting the money you spent on your trip. Be present in the wherever, enjoy the everything, and be open to the somewhere else. Or something like that.
I will make myself stop and smell the goddamn roses
Our working lives are becoming increasingly hurried, stressful, and overwhelming. It can be difficult to find time to do the stuff you want to do, and even more difficult to just stop for a moment and y’know, ponder. Travelling offers the perfect vehicle for these moments of reflection.
Whether you’re laying on a beach in Sri Lanka, halfway up a mountainside in Patagonia, cruising down the Mekong River, or totally confused in North Korea, take time to stop and think about it all. Appreciate the subtleties of life in wherever you are. Take in the minor details — there are no major details without them — and relax. You’re doing just fine.
Inspired to see the world?
Take the new year by the horns with Geckos Adventures.