Okay, so I’m really late with this post. Or actually with making any sort of resolution, so this list is par for the course.
The truth is I rarely make resolutions – mostly because I often fail at keeping them. However, for the rest of the world, this is the time of year where the innanet is flooded with reflections and “new year, new me” posts. This is because at the beginning of any new phase in our lives, it’s a good time to reflect on all that was accomplished and things we wished had gone differently. It’s a time to pause and take time to do some introspection and make wishes for the year to come.
For a lot of people, travel is something they aspire to accomplish each year. However, for some people, travel is not as easily accessible as it is for the rest of us. So, I’ve made a list of travel-related resolutions for the new year that we all can make, no matter where we are in the world.
Disclaimer: Some of these links provided are to affiliate pages and if you click on them to make a purchase, I receive a commission. However, please know the products, services, and websites I recommend are because I have used them and have really enjoyed them.
Literally see the world. Buy a map, a globe, or the travel-related coffee table book and keep it prominently in your home. Having these things in your home reminds you of how wide and beautiful our planet is and will be a constant reminder that there is so much happening beyond our vision.
Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic features 500 destinations is a great way to see the world and get some great ideas on where to begin in your travels.
Take a cooking class. Whether you’ve always wanted to try Thai cuisine or wish to master your crepe making skills, taking a cooking class, especially with someone from a different country, will offer a new way for you to connect with others from different cultures and offer you a new perspective of the world. And it might even be tasty! I would suggest looking at Airbnb Experiences. They offer a number of classes with locals or immigrants from that country. It’s a great way to connect with people, cook and eat good food. No experience required.
Use your vacation time. Whether you choose to enjoy a spa day at a nearby hotel or veg out on the couch to the Gilmore Girls, you deserve to take time for yourself. Did you know that on average, only 52% of Americans take their vacation time each year? And compared to the rest of the world, we don’t even get that much time off. Whereas other parts of the world not only get more time off, but they take ALL of it. There are several countries in Europe who even shut down businesses for a whole month to encourage this glorious form of self-care. While you may not be able to take the month off with the country of France, you can use that hard earned PTO to do something you love. You deserve it.
Invest in yourself. Make a plan to pay off your debts to create a clearer peace of mind. Or start a savings account for future travel or adventures. While all of these may not center around travel, investing in something for yourself, whether abroad or locally, is just another form of self-love. I have used a modified version of Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom to accomplish this. I just add a line for travel or a “Meka Day” gift to myself to save for each month and it helps me to remain focused and only spend on myself what I have already alotted. It has helped to keep my finances in check and keep me financially responsible. Because there is nothing more terrible than coming home from vacation with your bills not being paid.
Try a new cuisine. Take a walk around your city’s Chinatown or pop into that new tapas restaurant that just opened. There are always new restaurants opening that are worth trying. If you live in a large city, you can check out Time Out. This website is one of my first stops when visiting a new city. They not only tell you what is happening that week or weekend, but they offer a carefully curated list of new places to eat in a variety of cuisines. You’re sure to find something you like and I’ve never eaten anything I didn’t enjoy from the places they’ve recommended.
Meet new people. While my introverted self doesn’t always take the initiative to meet new people, I do enjoy meeting new people while participating in activities. I have used MeetUp while in the states and Internations while abroad to join activities that I enjoy and have met some pretty cool people in the process.
While I am not one to voluntarily go out and meet new people, I do enjoy meeting people when it’s centered around an activity or food. When I lived in Ethiopia, I went hiking with a group to Gondar. When I moved to Boston, I did a MeetUp with a group that did yoga in the park and then went and ate tacos. (It’s called balance, people)
You can also find a new hobby this way. Learn to play the ukulele, take a sculpting class, or join a bridge group. Learning something new not only creates new neuropathways in your brain (great for keeping sharp as you age), but it also helps you to develop a new skill set that you can use later on. There are several cheap or free resources out there (Youtube, Udemy, etc.) and I even took a class with a local arts space when we lived in Philadelphia where the classes were as cheap as $40 for an 8-10 week course. I’ve learned some pretty cool things by even checking out Groupon and LivingSocial. I went white water rafting, took a circus arts class, and learned archery through their deals. Don’t sleep on discount fun, people.
Learn a new language. There are so many ways out there that don’t require you to pay loads of money through a program or travel to a new country. There is Duolingo, which is realtively free. You can also listen to podcasts that can help reinforce the language you’re learning. You can also take a course at your local community center or college, or if you are an autodidact, you can teach yourself by watching Youtube videos.
Even if you don’t travel to use it, it’s always fun to learn a language and understand conversations going on around you. I was once in a restaurant and the table next to me was speaking Spanish. They were making (nice) comments about my hair and I just giggled to myself feeling flattered. Now, I haven’t spoken Spanish in years, so I’m a bit insecure about speaking with native speakers, so I didn’t engage. But it was nice to know I still understand the language after not using it for so long.
Take a road trip. Well, this one actually requires you to travel a little bit. It is always a good thing to expose yourself to new people and surroundings. Even if it’s another part of town or another state, stepping outside your comfort zone can be a beautiful and memorable experience for you and your family. Discover your state’s national parks or historical sites. Tripadvisor is a great resource to find new places to discover, no matter where you are in the world.
Do things that make you happy. As much as you can. I make a list sometimes when I find myself happy while doing things that I can refer to later or when I need to. While travel is one of the things that make me happy, I know and understand that this way of life is not always accessible to everyone. But happiness is something we can all cultivate for ourselves, no matter our budgets or number of vacation days each year. We can find small, simple ways to find joy in our daily lives.
Eat french fries, blow bubbles, listen to your favorite song and dance it out every morning, get a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks and sip it slowly as you people watch out the window. These are some of the things that make me happy. I urge you this year to find ways to curate small moments of joy and happiness in your life. You and your family deserve it.
In the year 2020, I want to be more intentional about the ways in which I move about this world, the connections I make, and the relationships I nurture. I wish to invest more in myself and those around me so we can grow together and accomplish the things we’ve always imagined.
I hope this list helped get you started in the ways you hope to expand on your already incredible life this year.
Cheers to a new decade!