It’s that time of year when we make those New Year’s promises that most of us fail to keep (80-90% of us according to studies). Instead of making those not-so-fun resolutions to lose weight, save more money, and eat healthier, how about considering some easy, travel-related resolutions that’ll help you travel more and have more memorable experiences? Here are a few ideas:
Don’t put it off. Often, people say they’re going to travel when they have more money or more time o travel when they retire. The only time we really have is the present moment. Recently, a friend of mine was diagnosed with a serious illness. Her plan to travel, which she’d been putting off for the “perfect time,” maybe put off for good. Travel now while you can.
Establish a travel fund. Many people pull out credit cards when they want to travel. They come back from a trip and face sky high credit card bills. If you’re more inclined to use cash, you might be like we were and when it’s time to go on vacation, you haven’t got any money. I can’t tell you the number of times we ended up going camping because we didn’t have enough money to pay for a trip.
For a number of years, we’ve been putting away 5% net out of every check we receive. Sometimes it’s only a few dollars; other times, it’s a more substantial amount. It goes into the travel account no questions asked. When we want to travel, we look into the account and see how much money we’ve saved up. We
may have to supplement with credit cards, but, often, the majority of the trip is financed by our travel fund savings.
Another easy way to save for travel is to put your change into jar and cash it in once a year. Our change jar has yielded as much as $600 and it always goes towards travel.
Check your passport. If you don’t have a passport or you need to renew, do it. These days, you can’t go anywhere without one. And ,if your passport is within a few weeks or a couple of months of expiring, many countries won’t let you come in. In the U.S., if you’re applying for the first time you must apply in person at a passport office. If you’re renewing a passport, you must do it through the mail and it takes about six weeks.
Get out of your rut. Try traveling differently. If you always go to the seashore, try heading to the mountains or the desert. If you’re a landlubber, try taking a cruise. If you normally spend your vacation lying on a beach, get active. Go hiking, biking, sailing, kayaking, fishing. Try renting an RV or go by motorcycle for a change of pace.
Consider volunteer travel. Consider a trip where part of the time you volunteer and give back. One year in Texas, we spend the day working in one of the parks with other volunteers. For our few hours of effort, they gave us t-shirts, lunch, and we made some new friends. Or you can take trips that are all about volunteering. For instance, many universities offer programs where you can become part of a research team. I spent a couple of memorable weeks in Peru with scientists from the University of California Berkeley working as part of an archeology team. We dug at the famous Inca site Macchu Picchu and the experience is still one of the highlights of my travel life.
Learn something. There are plenty of opportunities to learn something new when you travel. Try a language immersion program to learn a new language. Take a cooking class. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in a different culture. Join a photo safari that’ll teach you not only to take better pictures, but how to see differently. Learn about the history and the culture of areas you travel in by going to museums, fairs, markets, and art exhibits. Consider hiring a guide for a day or a few hours. You’ll learn so much more than if you try to just go on your own. If you’re a little older, consider taking a Road Scholar tour in which older people travel in groups with the goal of learning more about their destination.
Go exotic. Think about some place that screams “exotic” to you. Perhaps it’s Bali, Thailand, Africa, China or Argentina. Then take the steps needed to get yourself there. Maybe you need to call your travel agent or contact a tour group. If you begin the process with some concrete steps, you’re much more likely to actually go.
Those are just a few ideas to get you thinking and, hopefully, inspire you to get out there and travel. Let us know your travel resolutions for this year. Happy travels. Cheers! – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor