If your goal for the year is to spend months on the road, visit 20 new countries, or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, that’s great! But we recognize that those types of travel and adventure goals aren’t feasible for everyone right now.
So our list of New Year’s resolutions for 2016 isn’t about going and seeing the whole entire world – it’s about small actions that reflect the values of travel. No matter who you are or where you live, we think you’ll be able to tackle some of these.
Take a day trip.
Trips don’t have to be to far-flung or exotic locales – or require months of planning – to be meaningful. Spend just one day exploring a nearby town or escaping to the countryside, and see how much better you feel that night.
Make a bucket list for your own town.
Museums and monuments only tourists visit, restaurants you’ve been wanting to try, parks you’ve never spent time at, local markets in other neighborhoods, strange things that are unique to your town – put them all on the list, and then start checking them off.
Try a winter sport.
It can be hard to get out in the cold, especially when it’s dark by 4:00pm like it is in Boston these days. But don’t let this season put a damper on your adventurous spirit. Winter has so many sports to offer, so commit to getting yourself outside to try at least one of them. Downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, ice skating, the list goes on…
Try a cuisine you’ve never had before.
Does your town have any restaurants that serve cuisines you haven’t tried – Ethiopian, Colombian, Sri Lankan? If you’ve already exhausted all the restaurants near you, try cooking a meal from a new cuisine instead (and then please send us the recipe, because we’re always looking for new ones!).
Get a rewards credit card.
If you’re wondering how to make travel more affordable, using a rewards credit card to earn miles (and then getting free flights!) is a great first step. We’ve traveled for free more than once with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which comes with a generous sign-up bonus and offers double points on travel-related charges.
If you’d prefer a card with no annual fee, check out the Chase Freedom card, which gives cash back on all purchases (cash you can put in your travel fund!).
Go to a national park.
Growing up between Glacier and Yellowstone, we used to take national parks for granted–until we realized not everyone is so lucky. Make it a point to visit (and appreciate!) a park this year, one of the 61 in the U.S. or one in another country.
Visit a friend or family member somewhere new.
Making in-person visits is arguably the best way to way maintain long-distance relationships with loved ones. And as a bonus, having them as a host and guide almost guarantees you’ll get the local experience in a new place.
Hang up some inspirational décor.
Decorate your living space with art from other countries, photos of places you’ve always wanted to go, or anything else that inspires you. If you love maps as much as we do, check out the cool stuff available on Etsy.
Donate to a local organization on a trip.
Whether you’re visiting the next town or another country, there are probably local non-profits or NGOs working on issues from public health to adult education to gender equality. To make an impact in the place you’re visiting, make a donation to an organization there (just do your research first to make sure it’s a reputable one).
Spend a night outdoors.
Whether it’s taking a big backpacking trip, spending a weekend car camping, or pitching a tent in your own backyard, we think a night of sleeping outside is good for the soul.
Read a novel or memoir about a country you’re interested in.
While we know as well as anyone that pouring over Lonely Planet guides to dream destinations can be addicting, novels and memoirs set in other countries make a great introduction to their culture.
Walk through a new (to you) neighborhood in your town.
How many areas of your own town have you never actually been to? How many do you only ever see through the window of a car or bus? Pick an interesting neighborhood you’re unfamiliar with, and go for a walk there with no purpose other than to explore.
Ride a train.
Trains are just the best. Relative to other transportation options, they’re usually fast, comfortable, safe, and spacious, plus you can walk from car to car and sometimes even get off to stretch at the stops. The rail system in the U.S. is woefully underdeveloped compared to many countries, but it still beats no train at all.
Happy New Year, and here’s to your adventures in 2016!