When you were making your New Year’s resolutions in early January, did travel plans make your list? If they did, great! If travel resolutions weren’t on your mind then, rest assured it’s not too late to add some travel-related items to your bucket list of 2021 goals.
Making vacation/travel plans at the beginning of the year might seem counter intuitive because who knows what’s going to happen five or eight or ten months from now. It’s been our experience, however, that when you don’t have a plan, you tend not to travel and thereby lose out on all the fabulous experiences that comes with travelling, such as meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, eating amazing food, and exploring new places.
You may think that a vacation means just one big trip a year, perhaps to an exotic location, and that may be true in some cases, but we’re here to offer a couple of tips to convince you that with just a little dreaming and planning you can be a year-round traveller.
- Think Weekends: Schedule weekend trips throughout the year, perhaps once a month. Just a few days away without your usual responsibilities calling for your attention can leave you recharged and refreshed. And you’ll save money, too, as a weekend trip will cost a lot less than booking a tour or a week or more at a resort.
- Explore Locally: What cultural, historic, artistic, natural or foodie destinations have you wanted to explore in your city, county or state? Even though you won’t be travelling far afield, you’ll still have a blast seeing a new museum exhibit, taking an architectural tour, exploring a region’s waterfalls, visiting a few breweries or sampling the flavors at several ice cream parlors!
- Try a Solo Adventure: It’s fun to travel with a companion, but when you go it alone you get to plan your own schedule and roam around as you please. It can be a confidence building experience to problem solve and make all the decisions. And taking a leap of faith as a solo adventurer will help you build your travel muscles. Start small and work your way up to an entire weekend away by yourself.
- Cook Dishes from Around the World:
- Select a country you’d like to visit and plan a menu around the cuisine you’d try if you had feet on the ground. Schedule these special meals in your travel planner on a regular basis so they don’t get overlooked.
- Sock $$ Away: Squirrel away a few dollars each month toward future travel. Even $20 a month dropped into your piggy bank will leave you feeling good at the end of the year when you get to decide whether to keep saving for a big vacation or spend it on a weekend away!
- Pack Light: A small suitcase or backpack with a few essential items, like wrinkle-free clothing with multiple uses, gives you enormous flexibility. A lightweight bag is easier to carry when you are running to catch a bus, train or plane, wrestle in or out of your car or carry up a flight of stairs. And unless you’ve been invited to meet the Queen, you probably won’t need that fancy dress or extra pair of heels.
- Use Your Vacation Time: If you are employed and vacation time is part of your package, don’t leave those days sitting on the table. It’s easy to find excuses to defer travel plans because of your workload, but that’s exactly why you need to take a vacation — to release stress and recharge your batteries.
Numerous studies show that taking time off to engage with family and friends, explore new destinations, meet new people, and create wonderful memories will refresh your spirits and make you a happier and more content person. It all begins with a plan.
— By Eileen Alexander, a writer living in western North Carolina, who several years ago packed extra light for a 278-mile bike trip along Prince Edward Island’s Confederation Trail. She and Ilja Chapman have been working together since 2007, back in their New Hampshire days!