As we head into 2017 and are thinking about our New Year's resolutions, ways to improve our lives and stretch ourselves in the coming year, we wanted to focus on resolutions that we can actually keep this time... ones that will bring more travel and adventures into our lives! These are commitments that we believe will make your life richer and more fulfilling in 2017 and that will be enjoyable to keep.
So without further ado, here are our 12 top New Year's travel resolutions as we get ready for when the clock strikes 12 this Saturday night... Cheers! Here's to a Happy New Year!
1) Get a new stamp in your passport
This one is the most basic and obvious for all travelers and wanderers... we all want to keep checking countries off the list, and a new year is a good time to visit a new country! And if you've never used your passport yet, there is no better time to get your very first stamp!
Additionally, it can be tempting to want to return to our favorite spots, but the thrill and reward that come with exploring a new place are unrivaled... so which country will it be for you this year?
2) Take a solo trip
This is one of the most daunting resolutions on the list, but it could also be one of the most rewarding. Going on a trip by yourself is a chance to stretch yourself, enjoy your own company, and spend a trip doing 100% of the things that you want to do. It will be an unparalleled growing and learning experience!
3) Be more spontaneous
Spontaneity makes life more unpredictable and exciting; it shakes up your routine and gets you out of your comfort zone. Take a last-minute weekend getaway, say yes when a friend invites you on a crazy adventure, or take an impromptu day trip or make an unexpected stop while you're traveling.
4) Learn a new language
It's incredibly satisfying to communicate with locals in their native language as you travel. You don't have to be fluent in order to do it, either... they will be thrilled that you try even the most basic of phrases, and your efforts will be greatly appreciated. Before your trip, spend time with an app like Duolingo, and you'll be prepared to have a richer experience and make deeper connections on your next trip.
5) Explore the area where you live
Sometimes we get so caught up in our everyday routines at home that we forget that there's a whole word to explore right on our doorstep. Be a tourist for a day in your city and visit the local attractions. Check out the museums around you, bookmark the calendar page for local events, and have dinner at a new restaurant.
When we lived in San Diego, we had "Explorer Saturdays", where we spent every Saturday exploring something new in southern California, from different farmer's markets to hiking trails to hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants that we'd never tried before. We had fun planning what we would do each Saturday and then loved the adventures that our explorations brought each week.
So in 2017, explore your local area, and see how you can get the excitement that comes from experiencing new places while you travel... without having to leave your city!
6) Do something that scares you when you travel
One of the best things about traveling is the opportunity to have new experiences and stretch yourself beyond what you would normally do. So on your next trip, make it a point to make sure that those moments happen.
If you're adventurous, then by all means, try something crazy like skydiving, ziplining, or bungee jumping. But if that's not your style, you can still experience an adrenaline rush from doing something smaller... maybe hopping on the back of a motorbike for a ride around southeast Asia or trying an exotic food that you never thought you'd eat. Push yourself outside your comfort zone, and you will come home with exhilarating stories and memories for a lifetime.
7) Spend a day without an itinerary or guide… just explore
Before we were digital nomads, Joshua and I went on several cruises, and we typically stuck to the comfort and safety of guided shore excursions when we were in port. Then when we were in Mykonos, Greece, there wasn't an excursion that looked great, so we decided to just explore the island on our own... we grabbed a map and headed out, and to this day, it's one of our favorite travel days. We had so much fun wandering around on our own, meandering through blue and white side streets, and exploring anything that grabbed our interest... it was the start toward the crazy adventurers that we are now.
So in your travels this year, give yourself the chance to truly explore an area... with no set itinerary and no tour guide... just see what you stumble across. Let yourself get lost if you need to... as long as you have Google Maps, you'll find your way home later. Find attractions, cafes, shops, and moments that you never would have experienced before, and it will be so worth it!
8) Collect moments, not things
In western society, we're surrounded by commercialism and materialism, and it's so easy to get pulled into it... thinking you need to have the latest trendy home decorations or fancy gadgets. But experiences, moments, and memories are so much more valuable than a home filled with stuff. So in 2017, let's not waste our money on things that only bring very temporary happiness... let's simplify and save our money for rewarding experiences that will give us lasting satisfaction and memories.
9) Pack less
On the theme of simplification, we're going to resolve to pack less for trips in 2017. No matter how many times we say that we're going to do it, we have such a hard time having fewer suitcases filled with so much stuff... it's especially hard as a family of 5! But truthfully, we reach the end of our trip, and we've never used half of the stuff that we've been lugging around.... have you experienced that??
So this year, let's put back the extra shoes and clothes that we "might need" (i.e. we will absolutely never use on the trip) and enjoy the freedom of traveling with less... and having more room to bring back souvenirs!
10) Celebrate an event or festival in another country
There's something special about being immersed in authentic foreign culture by experiencing one of their local celebrations, so make a goal to experience one such event in the coming year. It could be seeing cherry blossoms bloom in Japan, marveling at a Thai lantern festival, witnessing a parade for a patron saint in a Catholic country, joining in the madness of Rio's Carnival, Munich's Oktoberfest, or the running of the bulls in Pamplona, gazing at the Northern Lights in Iceland, or shopping at a Bavarian Christmas market... find those moments and events that simply can't be experienced the same anywhere else in the world and go enjoy them!
11) Use every single vacation day
If you're working a job where you get 2 or 3 weeks of vacation time each year, make sure that you use up every single one of those precious days! Don't fall into the trap of feeling like you need to work through half of them because that's what everyone else does... you have those days where you can explore the world and do whatever you want... take advantage of every one of them and make the most of your vacation time!
12. …or create a life where every day can be a vacation day
Alternatively, if you, like me back in the days of my government job, are tired of trying to reconcile your travel dreams and wanderlust impulses to match up with your work vacation time, it might be time to create a new life for yourself!
2017 can be the year where you start your own business, convince your boss to let you work remotely, or otherwise discover how to earn a living from your laptop. Then you can decide for yourself how many vacation days you're allowed to have and when you take them!
For more advice about how you can create such a life for yourself, check out our new book! We've taken our experiences traveling around the world for the last four years with our three little girls as a digital nomad family and have compiled everything we've learned into a book to help you Travel The World, Work From Anywhere, and Love Your Life. Get it here!
What are your resolutions for 2017? Any bucket list places you're determined to cross off this coming year? Let us know in the comments! And have a very happy 2017!!