New Year’s resolutions get a bit of a bad rap, don’t they. January 1st comes around and, unsatisfied with our questionable life choices, we all rush out to stock up on juicers, gym memberships and online dating subscriptions. Come the following Saturday we’ve swapped our super green smoothies for gin and tonics, swapped the gym for the couch and swapped tinder for a new cat. It’s no wonder people are sceptical of the old cliched resolutions.
However, there’s something that I can’t help but love about them.
New Year’s Resolutions give us the chance to really reflect on the steps that we can take to improve our lifestyle and develop better habits in the New Year. For anyone interested in personal growth, the New Year is the perfect time to set some goals for the next 365 days ahead.
As travellers, there’s a lot of small steps that we can take to improve our lifestyle in 2017; to improve our health, our overall happiness and wellbeing, and to lessen the footprints that we make as we circumnavigate the globe. Here are a few travel resolutions that really are worth keeping in 2017.
Stop Buying Plastic Water Bottles
If there’s one thing that we need less of in the world, it’s more plastic. However, when travelling through countries with little access to clean drinking water, it can be difficult to stay hydrated without buying plastic water bottles.
This year for Christmas, I (strategically) bought Veeran a Steripen (so that I can use it too….) Steripens are awesome because you can use them with your own refillable BPA-Free bottle. The pen lasts for around 7 years and purifies your water in next to no time. Ours (I mean, Veeran’s…) came with an attachable filter too so it purifies and filters your water at once!
If you want to reduce your plastic consumption even more, I really recommend also investing in solid shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes and a female menstrual cup. This will save you money in the long, and ensure our grandchildren and great grandchildren can explore our beautiful planet, too!
Explore your own Back Garden
When I lived in Scotland, I barely saw even half of the country that I call home. With budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet, it can be significantly cheaper and more convenient to spend a week in Spain than a week road tripping in the highlands. However, now that I live abroad, there is so much of my own country that I long to see.
Travelling doesn’t always need to mean tropical beaches and 12-hour flights. I bet there is so much to see in your own country that other people would only dream of. If a big trip isn’t on the cards for you this year, then why not keep travel closer to home?
Start Saving for a Big Trip in 2018
So many people will say that their New Year’s resolution is to travel more in 2017. That’s all well and good if you have the savings, but what if you don’t? Why not make this year a year of saving so that you can take the trip of your dreams next year!
Ever since moving to South Korea, I’ve become a huge advocate for saving money. Make 2017 the year that you start tracking your spending and encourage yourself to save for your trip by making mood boards on Pinterest or researching your destination on your favourite travel blogs.
Just £20 per week is over £1,000 in a year. That’s more than enough for return flights and spending money for a 3 week trip to Thailand!
Support Local and Independent Hotels and Businesses
In an increasingly globalised world, local businesses deserve all the support that they can get.
On your next trip, why not consider staying at a homestay. Not only is the money that you’re spending supporting local people, but you’ll learn a bit more about the culture and have a more immersive experience.
As for restaurants and coffee shops, break out your comfort zone. If you’re in a big city, consult local magazines rather than Trip Advisor to read about new restaurant openings. Scour the internet for more sustainable restaurants, or go a step further and find organisations that are truly making a difference.
Learn the local Language
Travelling is the perfect opportunity to pick up a few new phrases for your repertoire. While you’re probably not going to become conversational in a 2-week trip, it only takes a tiny bit of effort to learn how to say Hello, Please, Thank You, Goodbye, Yes, No etc. Plus, the locals will appreciate that you’ve made the effort.
Say no to Exploitative Animal Attractions
It’s 2017 guys and it’s time to see an end to tiger selfies and elephant rides. Please please please please, if you want to visit an animal attraction, do your homework! Even places disguised as “sanctuaries” are often operating solely as commercial businesses. The more demand that there is for this kind of “entertainment”, the longer these organisations will continue to exist. Vote with your dollars and take your business elsewhere.
With the rise of cheap flights, a lot of the time it seems like flying between destinations is the best deal. (Prime example: see my previous point about exploring your own back garden.) You can save time and, fairly often, you can even save money.
However, this new trend of flying everywhere is extremely unsustainable for the planet.
I recently did an online survey and was shocked to see that, despite living in a tiny shoebox apartment, not having a car and being mindful about what I eat and consume, I still had a significantly larger carbon footprint than your average gas guzzling, red meat munching Brit or American. Why? Because I took so many flights this year.
As long as people keep creating this demand for flights, the cheaper they’ll become and the more they will rise in popularity.
If you have the time, I urge you to consider overland travel rather than flying. It’s so much better for the environment and, in some cases, it’s a lot more fun too!
If you’re heading on a backpacking trip, why not consider exploring a region that can be explored easily overland or focus on a continent rather than a multi-stop RTW trip. Eastern and Western Europe, most of South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Latin America are great places to explore without taking too many flights when you’re on ground.
As travellers, our carbon footprint is already pretty astronomical. This is one of the ways that we can most significantly reduce ours in 2017!
There are so many benefits of packing light. You can save money on checked baggage fees, save time waiting on bags at the luggage carousel. Oh, and you don’t have to lug a huge bag around with you, either.
I love my Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 which is the perfect size to take as hand luggage. It’s roomy enough to fit clothes for multiple seasons, too. After hearing so many bloggers raving about them, I decided to order the Eagle Creek Compression Cubes for my next trip, too.
Consider Working Abroad
“Just quit your job and travel” is a quote almost as cliched as “New year, New me!” 2017 is the year to start being a bit more realistic so, if your 2-week long holiday just isn’t cutting it anymore, why not consider working abroad rather than dropping everything to travel?
If you work for a company with offices overseas, you could try and get a transfer. Or, if you’re in the same boat that I was and don’t really know what on earth to do with your life, teaching English abroad can give you a great opportunity to save money, see the world and get your shit together!
Hate kids? The rise of the digital nomad life is upon us! Recently, I’ve been making a sustainable income online doing freelance writing work; work that I can do absolutely anywhere. There are actually so many jobs that you can do online, including social media management, graphic design and digital marketing. For inspiration, I recommend reading Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek.
Do your Homework
This year when you travel, try to learn a little bit about the places you visit before you go. I’ve been so guilty in the past of travelling to places and having no idea about any of the history. If museums aren’t exactly your thing, maybe read a fictional book with a historical backdrop so you can at least learn a little bit about the country.
Clue yourself up on the local customs and cultures. Even if you’re in an extremely touristy place, still try to be as thoughtful and mindful as you can be when you travel. Remember that you are a guest in someone else’s country. A little bit of R-ES-P-E-C-T never hurt anyone!
Let’s make 2017 the year that we all start taking a bit more care of ourselves and the planet. I hope everyone has a happy, healthy and safe hogmanay! Much love, and I’ll see you all next year. xxx
Disclimaer: This post contains affiliate links. However, I only ever promote products that I know, use and love and that I hope you will love too!