How to Get the Most From Your Travels in 2017
If you’re like many of us, one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to travel more. After all, who doesn’t want to? But in my opinion, that’s a terrible resolution.
I know that might sound funny coming from a travel blogger who’s supposed to encourage people to go on adventures, but here’s why:
Travel more is not specific enough. What does it really mean? How do you measure it? It’s like saying that you want to lose weight or earn more money. If you’re like 92% of people, according to Forbes, you won’t keep that resolution. Maybe you’ll get too busy with a project at work and have no time to travel, or a water pipe bursts in your home whittling away your travel fund.
In addition to identifying how often you want to travel, i.e. four times a year which is a specific goal, compared to travel more, I also want you to get the most from your trips. Not all vacations are created equal. Your time and money are valuable so make sure that you’re getting the most from your travels with these tips:
1) Why Do You Want to Travel?
It might seem like an obvious question, but the answer is not the same for all of us. Some of us want an escape from the cold weather (as I write this it’s -11C in Munich, I’m one of those people), or an escape from the daily grind. Some of us want an adventure, in which I recommend checking out the adventure holidays that I offer. Others want to lie on a beach and relax, while others want to experience a new culture to broaden their perspectives. Others want to learn, i.e. a language learning holiday or help others with a volunteering holiday. Still not sure? Take the What Type of Traveller Are You Quiz? from Holiday Lettings.
There is no right answer, just the right answer for you.
Identifying what you want from your travel experience will help you get the most from it.
Me birdwatching in Finland.
2) How Do You Want to Feel When You Travel?
Just like we all have different reasons for travelling, each of us wants to feel something different. Maybe you want to come back feeling rejuvenated, or unstuck, or like you can do anything in the world, or simply to feel alive again. It’s important to align the type of holiday you want with how you feel. For example, if you’re seeking a challenge, it’s highly unlikely that a beach vacation is going to provide that for you – unless you throw in some shark diving, learn how to windsurf, or another activity that will help you grow. Similarly, if you are burnt out and are seeking relaxation, a bus tour of 10 countries in 10 days is not going to provide that.
Before planning your travels, think about how you want to feel during and after your travels.
Me and Audrey from That Backpacker enjoying the views while hiking in Meteora Greece.
3) Plan Your Travel in Advance
Even though I’ve been living in Germany for over six and a half years, I’m aware of how unsexy this sounds. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun that it sounds. Ask yourself how often you want to travel, then figure out how to make it happen and schedule it. Now maybe you’re thinking that sounds great Laurel but I’d like to travel four times a year, but there’s no way I can afford that or take the time to do it.
Let’s rethink that assumption for a moment. For example, if you’ve identified that you want to feel challenged by your travels, you could sign up for an activity close to you that you could do on the weekend, or long weekend. For example, you could learn to build an igloo, go white-water rafting, or learn how to rock climb. These activities can all be done in a weekend and may just be a short drive away. I’m a big fan of using Get Your Guide for activity ideas both close to home and further abroad.
If you’re seeking relaxation, you could go camping in the woods with a book that you’ve been wanting to read forever and go for short strolls or day hikes (here’s what you need to bring) where the only sounds besides your footsteps are chirping birds. Studies repeatedly show that being in nature has incredible relaxation and health benefits.
Now that you’ve re-defined how you think of travel schedule it on your calendar NOW. If it’s not scheduled, it doesn’t get done. Book that flight, book that hotel, or that AirBnB (book here and you’ll receive €30 off your stay). 2017 is THE year that you will travel more – however you’ve defined more.
Travel doesn’t have to be an exotic getaway; you can receive many of the same benefits by engaging in adventures closer to home.
Me learning how to use an ice axe on Mount Blanc in France.
4)Do Activities Leading Up to Your Travels
By planning your vacations or mini-vacations in advance, you’ll not only make sure that they happen, but you’ll also get the benefit of anticipation. According to an article in the New York Times, studies show that vacationers felt most happy before their trips. Yes, before. So knowing that you will be kayaking for the first time seven months from now, will provide you with even more happiness, allowing you to get the most from your travels.
To feel the happiest before your trip, immerse yourself before your travels. This is a recommendation from the aforementioned article in the New York Times and something that I love to do. If you’re planning a trip to Italy, learn a few words in Italian before you go (you can find some free basic words here, or sign up for the course – I use this method to improve my German), or sign up for an in person Italian language course so that you can share your excitement with other students who are also probably heading to Italy. Read books that take place in Italy to transport you there before you arrive. One of my favourites is Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. Try cooking a new Italian recipe. I recently discovered this hearty one for Tuscan soup which I love and warms you up on a cold winter day. You get the idea.
If your adventure is closer to home, you can still immerse yourself. If you’re going to be going backcountry camping, for example, you can find out how to identify which berries to eat, or which leaves to boil to make your wild brewed tea. Read books set in the place that you’re going; it adds to the anticipation making sure that you’ll get the most from your travels.
Follow these tips and not only will you travel more in 2017, but you’ll get the most from your travels.