10 Travel Resolutions for 2017 and How to Make Them Happen
“Travel more” is a popular New Year's resolution—but it isn't very specific.
And just as resolving to “get rich” isn't likely to make an obvious difference to your bank account in the near term, traveling “more” is a hard goal to act on.
To help get you out and about in the world in 2017, here are 10 specific travel resolutions along with how you can work towards them, from getting to a remote destination to enjoying your first solo trip.
1. Use more of your vacation days.
According to a survey conducted by Allianz Travel Insurance, more than 170 million Americans reported going 12 months without a single day of vacation. If you've got the days, you should use them. (And if you're an employer, here's why you should encourage employees to take time off.)
And you don't have to take them all at once, if skipping out on the office for two weeks isn't possible: A long weekend trip gives you the chance to get out and explore a new city. Search for destinations based on flight time (KAYAK's Explore tool will show you flights less than 3 hours, for example), and you can maximize . Whether you explore the museums and theme parks of Orlando or sample the fine wines and culinary offerings in Napa Valley, you'll get away from the grind without going too far off the grid.
And if seeing the world is really high on your priority list, use 2017 to work toward getting a job that takes you around the world. There are several companies that offer both short-term and long-term options for explorers, like Diverbo, which employs English speakers in European countries like Germany and Spain to teach the language and engage in dinner parties and theater performances, and WWOOF, which pairs people with organic farms around the world.
2. Start learning a new language.
Not only is knowing another language helpful when traveling where it's spoken, but it can also make you more attractive to others.
Language apps are a great way to practice with new languages and prep before taking a trip from the comfort of your home. Consider Duolingo, which recently launched chatbots so you can practice saying phrases to people you might come across during your trip (like a bartender or barista), or Babbel, which also has speech recognition to ensure your pronunciation is correct.
One of the best ways to tackle a new language once you've got the basics down is to practice, and you can do this during your travels. Having a translation app can help you as you engage in real-time conversations, with Google Translate offering you the ability to take photos of written languages (should you be in a bookstore or library) in addition to spoken phrases.
3. See a new city.
Knowing when the right deals spring up for flights can help you get to a destination you've never been to before—for less. Sign up for email alerts from airlines that fly out of your home airport. JetBlue and Frontier frequently send out email deals. And for a more comprehensive source, try Airfare Watchdog and Deal Ray.
You can also follow airlines and deal sites on Facebook and Twitter, where they'll often share flash sales that you'll need to hop on.
4. Get off the grid. Way off.
Though remote destinations are harder to get to, the lack of crowds and stunning sites they offer can make them worth the trek. Start with a remote hotel, like the Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, located in the middle of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, or Mihir Garh, a nine-suite hotel in India's Thar desert.
Or go with tour operators that specialize in far-flung locations: Companies like Undiscovered Destinations specialize in taking curious travelers to off-the-grid locales around the world, whether you’re in Europe or Asia.
The experiences can be organized both as small group trips and tours or as custom-made itineraries, introducing you to locals in the area and breathtaking scenery ranging from wildlife adventures to hidden historic gems.
5. Make new friends.
Meeting locals on your travels can make you new friends and uncover some of the best spots in a destination. Approaching a stranger can sometimes be intimidating though, so here are a few ways to make it easier.
Meal-sharing apps are becoming increasingly popular, giving travelers the chance to sit down and have a meal prepared for them by locals around the world. Popular choices include VizEat, which pairs travelers with local chefs and those who love to cook for community meals in their home, and EatWith, which operates in 200 cities in 50 different countries. The meals, which can be cheaper than dining out, give you the chance to make new acquaintances and get one on one recommendations.
Or, if you’re looking to gain a local’s insight on a place, try a free walking tour. Operators like Free Tours by Foot offer travelers walking, bike, bus, and food tours that are operated by freelance locals with no upfront cost (though food tours cost about $45-$65 for meals), while the Mayor of Bath’s local guides can show the best of the city of Bath during a free walking tour.
6. Take a solo trip.
Traveling alone gives you the chance to unwind and recharge, and discover new aspects about yourself. But the idea of hitting the road alone can be intimidating.
If you're concerned about traveling on your own, going wih a home stay or a family-run guesthouse can be a great starter option. There are also some hotels that cater to solo travelers.
Riad Star, in Marrakech, Morocco, offers guests a GPS-equipped app with recommendations on local sites and stops, and a pre-loaded phone in case they get lost. Hotel Vermont, in Burlington, has an activities coordinator to arrange one-on-one outings like kayaking and snowshoeing.
There are some companies that can take the awkwardness out of solo traveling. For example, Contiki, which focuses on trips for travelers ages 18 to 35, will connect you to fellow travelers on social media before the journey. Then you can connect with other travelers when you want, while still having the freedom to explore on your own.
7. Eat like a local.
Sampling new foods can be one of the most enjoyable ways to experience a new culture.
Your Local Cousin will help you explore a city from an insider’s perspective by pairing you with one. Travelers and locals are matched based on common interests, and locals are available to chat via email, phone, or text to offer recommendations. They can also give you the breakdown of pricing and even the best items to order at local restaurants.
Looking for the can't miss eateries in a city? One of the best ways to do this, according to Andy Steves, author of “Andy Steves’ Europe: City-Hopping on a Budget,” is to ask a local where they go to celebrate special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries. This way, you'll get to know the real gems worth splurging on, while asking them about where they go on a daily basis can also help you find some of the best budget bites to taste.
8. Stay healthier while traveling.
Keeping up with fitness and clean eating can seem tough when on a trip, but it doesn't have to be.
To enjoy a healthy meal on her flight, Grace Antipala, a flight attendant at Hawaiian Airlines, told Travel + Leisure she'll pack a plastic bag filled with instant oatmeal and an array of fruits. Once she's on the flight, she'll simply add hot water and mix the oatmeal in one of the airlines' coffee cups for a healthy and fulfilling breakfast.
If you're looking to make staying active the focus of your trip, opt for a fitness vacation. Head to the Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa, located a few minutes from the Ainsworth Hot Springs in British Columbia for hikes and fitness classes offering views over te Selkirk Mountain Range and Kootenay Lake, or try out goat yoga at the No Regrets Farm in Albany, Oregon, where you’ll practice traditional yoga moves in the comfort of adorable mini goats.
9. Take a staycation.
Living in a particular city doesn't always mean you get the time to explore its best sites. Taking a staycation can help you get familiar with where you live, and make your home feel like a new destination.
To make your staycation budget-friendly, make a list of all the sites that often offer free admission, like state parks and museums. You can also check city tourism websites for free activities ranging from festivals to tours.
And if you'd like to take your staycation to a hotel, there are many last-minute hotel apps that'll help you treat yourself: Hotel Tonight has more than 15,000 hotels in 35 countries around the world.
10. Be more adventurous.
If adrenaline-pumping adventures weren't a little scary, they wouldn't be adventures. To get started, here are some suggestions.
You might be surprised by some of the activities hotels around the world can offer. For example, guests at Laucala Island in Fiji can explore the depths of the ocean within their own personal submarine. Meanwhile, guests at the Legend Golf and Safari Resort in South Africa's Limpopo Province can take part in a game of golf they'll never forget, with its Extreme 19-hole set on top of the Hanglip Mountain and accessed by a helicopter.
A festival can be a good way to get your feet wet with trying out adventure activities, without having to be on your own. The U.K.'s Base Camp Festival has everything from hiking and biking to kayaking and climbing.