Happy New Year!
With each new year comes fresh hopes, and promises that things will be different; that this year will be better than the last because this time your resolutions will stick. Yet many new year resolutions are abandoned within a few weeks, if they last that long.
Did you make any resolutions this year that included:
- Exercise more
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Save more money / spend less money
- Quit smoking
- Drink less or remove alcohol entirely
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Travel more
- Find a new romantic partner
- Read more
You’re not alone. It seems most people want the same stuff out of life.
However, travel (which is often on many new year resolution lists) can help you tick off all your other goals.
The best exercise is when you don’t even realise you’re doing it. I enjoy walking but feel it’s a chore when I’m doing it for health’s sake but pop me in a new city with my camera, and I’ll happily wander the streets all day and night without realising.
When I was in China, I regularly walked 15-20km a day just visiting the sights of Kunming, Chengdu and Guangzhou. In New York, walking a couple of blocks can end up being a few kilometres. Snorkelling in the Philippines, Indonesia and the Caribbean can easily get you swimming a few kilometres without even noticing.
Add-on a scenic coastal walk or a specialised walking tour around spooky locations and you’ll have those rings completed without realising. In Dubai, a single visit of each level of the Dubai Mall was equivalent to about 10km.
The easiest way to break bad habits is to be someplace different. Whilst it’s nice to splurge on a special meal occasionally, I inadvertently end up eating healthier whilst travelling, especially in Asia. With a buffet breakfast in a hotel, by day two, I’m usually down to just cereal and fruit. Plus with all the sightseeing, carrying bags and camera gear (maybe that’s just me) healthier food available (stir-fries in every restaurant), and exercise instead of sitting behind a computer all day – it’s a guarantee to see weight disappear.
The lightest/skinniest I’ve ever been was after nine months of backpacking but even just a two week trip away, I usually come back lighter, feeling healthier with a rosy glow.
Even though cruise ships are synonymous with laziness, big buffets and 3 course meals, every ship also has a gym. Before heading to the restaurant, without the stress of having to be at work, go for a 30 min quick gym session. The endorphins will have feeling fantastic, you’re less likely to overeat, and there’s always healthy dining choices on cruises, it’s plausible to come back with a new outlook and routine.
If you want to go extreme there’s plenty of health resorts in Bali, Thailand and Vietnam where you can detox from the world but travel is a fantastic way to begin your weight-loss journey.
You don’t need to be super organised to travel but it helps. It also means you’re less likely to encounter any problems, you’re more likely to score a cheap deal, and you won’t be denied entry because you didn’t sort a visa or your passport wasn’t travel-fit.
Once you start seeing the benefits of being organised, it will be easier to include these in everyday life.
If you want to maximise your time away, it helps to have some organisation skills, even if it’s just the night before to check transport timetables, opening hours, costs and to ensure your camera is charged.
Small things like planning ahead to book an apartment with washing facilities or locating a laundromat before you run out of undies, or knowing where supermarkets are to stock up on cheaper food, are all baby steps that can help you create organisational habits in your day to day life.
Trello (website and app based around the idea – To do/Doing/Done) helps create that sense of satisfaction of completing a task, no matter how small and can be used for sorting out what needs to be booked for your trip.
Learn a new skill or hobby
Learning a language is one of the most useful skills you can have and travelling is the quickest and easiest way to speak a new language. Immerse yourself, travel independently or you can even pick up a language exchange partner in many cities, to help learn local customs and etiquette.
If you want the organised approach, there’s plenty of language schools worldwide (in places like Spain, Germany and Japan) which offer short term intensive courses to get you speaking a new language, fluently.
But other hobbies such as photography, art, and writing are all greatly improved by being someplace different and will inspire you to create. These days there’s plenty of foodie tours and cooking classes you can do to learn new skills and meet new people.
When I lived in Japan I regularly attended a Japanese cooking class and I’m still friends with one of the girls I met at my first class.
Visiting art galleries and museums, seeing incredible creatures in the wild, being out in the desert, being in a remote location without any other tourists, or even spending Christmas in New York (which inspired me to write a Christmas carol) – it’s easy to see how travel inspires creativity.
Lastly, there’s always Meet Up to find your people in other cities, and do cool stuff, off the tourist trail without having to resort to dating apps.
Save more money / spend less money
You need money to travel so if you really want to travel, then healthy money habits help make that happen. It takes three things 1) Reduce your costs. 2) Put money aside in a seperate account, on a regular basis (it helps to use a completely different bank so you don’t see it, every time you login to your banking). 3) Don’t buy shit you don’t need.
Capitalism has conditioned us we need stuff in order to be happy. We don’t. Consumerism has conditioned us that we need to buy the latest, or the newest version of something. We don’t. Marketer’s have conditioned us that more expensive products are better because of fancy language. It often isn’t. Don’t fall for these tactics (unless your spending is supporting an independent creative like me, then that’s okay).
Travel on the other hand, provides memories, experiences that help us bond, and offer interactions to make the world a better place, so it’s money spent wisely.
Reducing your costs involves looking at every dollar that leaves your account and comparing to see if there’s a cheaper option. Switching phone companies, moving house, shopping elsewhere, switching brands or cooking more at home, recycled goods rather than brand new.
These days it’s easy to suddenly find you’re paying for half a dozen subscriptions you don’t really need or rarely use. But with the library offering free movies, magazines and comics plus music all legally downloadable, you can cancel at least one or two of your subscriptions. Remember, you can always resubscribe!
Removing alcohol will save you thousands. However there’s plenty of ways to reduce costs, giving you options to save more, without increasing your income which we often don’t have total control over.
Ask yourself, do I really really need this? Then sleep on it. Chances are, you probably don’t. Creating these habits in order to afford travel, can become a daily occurrence which gives you monetary freedom over the rest of your life, allowing you to live on less, save more, and travel more.
Whatever you do, don’t use a credit card to pay for travel. I made that mistake once, and a year later I was still paying it off, which was really boring.
A 13 hour flight is the perfect opportunity to give your body time to cleanse itself of nicotine (drink plenty of water and green tea). If you travel to Niue or Bhutan, cigarettes are illegal in both of these countries so there’s no better way to quit than with the threat of breaking the law!
However in many countries, cigarettes are cheaper and you can legally smoke in more places, so how does this help you quit?
I remember when I was travelling the Trans Mongolian Railway (back when I was a smoker) I started the journey with Nicorette gum which was about $15 a packet, however in Russia, a packet of cigarettes was only $5 a packet so it was physically cheaper to smoke.
I removed cigarettes at the end of a holiday, but it can also work in reverse.
Start your vacation with a full carton of smokes, and repeat the mantra “after this carton, I will no longer smoke.” Continue it with every packet, until the end, after this packet I will no longer smoke”… in fifteen cigarettes I will no longer smoke… In ten cigarettes I will no longer smoke… five, four, three, two, one – I no longer smoke.
You’ve mentally prepared yourself to remove cigarettes from your life and by being active, changing your routine, keeping busy, staying in a smoke-free environment etc, these will all help to break the habit.
Drink less or remove alcohol entirely
Similar deal to cigarettes, alcohol overseas is often cheaper, (or free on a flight), more readily available and different consumption laws can lead to over-consumption.
However you can also use travel to get out of your routine, remove everyday stresses of work, or home life. Get a massage, read a book on the beach, explore a new city without the added peer pressures to drink. Use your travel time to reinvent yourself. Returning as a new person.
Overseas, nobody knows who you are, you can be anything. You can be a non-drinker, a non-smoker who does yoga everyday and no one will question your actions because they know nothing else.
If this is your intentions, choose your destination wisely. I wouldn’t recommend Bali, but Lombok would be fine. Remote locations like Iceland, a hike to a lodge in the mountains of New Zealand (but warning, you can buy beer and wine in the supermarket) or a sailing safari around Fiji would also work, because if you don’t take any alcohol with you, there’s nothing to drink.
Spend more time with family and friends
Travel with friends and family can be stressful if they have different travel needs to yours but it’s perfectly acceptable to do your own thing during the day if it avoids arguments. You can still meet up for dinner to talk about what you got up to, spending quality family time together, whilst you plan one or two activities you can do together. Cruising is popular for this reason, you can easily escape each other, without it being awkward plus there’s plenty of activities to do.
This doesn’t really need an explanation, but the more you travel, the more inspired you’ll be to travel further, more often and longer. Warning, travel can be addictive, but it can also be life changing so you have to take the good with the bad. But travelling will certainly tick off your New Year Resolution to travel more!
Find a new romantic partner
A travel romance is somewhat cliche, but I know many couples who found their significant other, in another country either on a working holiday visa, whilst on a tour, or by hanging out with locals, in another country.
Every connection has the potential to turn into a long distance romance, (AMA, it’s all I’ve ever known) or at the very least, a great friend that you can visit on future travel expeditions.
Time away from your usual routine (i.e watching Netflix or browsing Facebook videos) is time that can be spent reading. A good holiday read is easy to digest, the kind of book you won’t mind parting with to lighten your load, or one you won’t be distraught over if it gets left behind in the setback pocket on a plane.
I always like to read a book set in the destination I’m travelling to such as New York by Edward Rutherford (New York), Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (Iceland), and I’m currently reading Off The Map by Alastair Bonnett (forgotten places).
Waiting at airports, long plane trips, a relaxing afternoon by the pool, a scenic bungalow by the beach, a solo dinner out, bedtime without home wifi, a train trip, with a coffee, under a tree to escape the midday heat, a rainy day in bed are all perfectly acceptable travel situations to pull out a book and disappear for a while.
So no matter your New Year Resolution, travel will help you achieve all your goals!
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