“Travel more.” It’s one resolution that tops our list every year. We think it has more lasting impact on our quality of life than going gluten-free or cleaning out our closet — and we imagine it’ll give us much better stories, too.
Here are 7 more resolutions to make the most out of your travels in 2015.
Live like the locals.
Take advantage of the growing trend of travel companies offering opportunities to connect to local tastemakers such as chefs, musicians and artists. Not only will you dig deeper into the culture and learn where the tourist-free bars are, but you might even bring home a new recipe or piece of art that’s attached to a great story. And with sites such as OneFineStay.com, you can even stay in locals’ homes when they’re out of town and live out your fantasy of being a New Yorker in a historical brownstone or a Londoner in a posh pied-a-terre.
Connect with limits.
If completely unplugging on vacation seems like an impossible feat, you’re not alone. As more technology is developed to make traveling easier, including keyless hotel rooms and smartwatches that let you book travel, it becomes harder to see the advantages of disconnecting on a trip. We find it more realistic to give ourselves limits, such as checking email only at a certain time of the day and not inundating our followers with humblebrag Instagram photos of every stunning sunset we encounter. Savor the fleeting moments of travel, revel in the experience, and keep your smartphone tucked in your bag instead of in your hand.
Be a responsible traveler.
Hire a local guide or outfitter to keep money in the country. Buy local products instead of imported goods. Learn the language and remember to ask to take photos of the native people. While the Mayas’ dress and friendly faces make for beautiful photos, they are just 1 example of an indigenous people who believe that tourists snapping photos of them steals their spirit. In some small towns of Guatemala, it’s even illegal to take photographs.
Learn a new dance or dish.
Always dreamed of learning to salsa dance in the music-filled streets of Havana, where the steamy dance started? With the possible lifting of US travel restrictions to Cuba, this dream might be easier to attain in 2015. Or maybe you’ve been dying to perfect your photography skills in a photogenic country such as India. Or perhaps you want to get pho real about Vietnamese cooking on a culinary tour in Southeast Asia. Go. Learn.
Lace up your hiking shoes.
Best part of the great outdoors? It’s free, so there’s no excuse, no matter how cash-strapped you are. And you won’t have to elbow your way to the front of the line to see our country’s most spectacular attractions. There’s plenty of breathing space to take in Utah’s Zion Canyon or the 6 million acres of wilderness in Alaska’s Denali National Park.
Take an adventure that gives back.
We’re all for life-changing trips, especially ones that support the local communities we’re visiting. While a yoga retreat or spa trip may seem like foolproof choices for a feel-good vacation, more and more travelers are getting addicted to the long-lasting good vibes they get from lending a hand. You’ll get a unique perspective of a country by volunteering your time teaching in Haiti or working with endangered orangutans in Borneo.
You’ll never get back those lost minutes waiting at baggage check or shuffling through things in your luggage that you never wore. If saving the checked-bag fee isn’t enough motivation, just think: The lighter your bag is, the more nimble you will be on travel days. Who wants to be burdened with a monster suitcase when there are so many things to see in this world and so little time?