Travel + Resolutions = Travelutions

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The beginning of the year depresses me. I say, maybe if we made our resolutions in February, we’d keep them, because we’d be over the initial defeatism of the year!

Nowadays, my resolutions are usually… travelutions.

Everyone can have travelutions, big or small. I think having the travel bug is a lifestyle rather than specific periods spent jet-setting. You live your life by love of travel, every day.

Graffiti in London’s Camden market

And in this sense, travel doesn’t have to be grand. It can be checking out a new place in your town, or a new nearby city. It can be spending an overnight in a close place that you don’t know well or at all. It can be exploring local nature or a state park.

Here are some travel resolutions from Lonely Planet, with my comments.

Stop making excuses. We never really “don’t have time,” do we? We just have priorities, and lots of excuses. For me personally, I have a million priorities – reading, writing, blogging, practicing ukulele, lesson planning, doing yoga – and you can’t do them all. But prioritizing is a different way of saying using your time. And we don’t always use our time well… cough cough… to the person who’s been watching How I Met Your Mother all day. (Me.)

If you want to travel, in whatever way that means to you, make the time and do it. On a long weekend, even. Plan your trip well in advance to find the best transportation and hostel prices. Or give a courteous amount of time to Couchsurfing hosts. Lock yourself in so you don’t back out.

Pack lighter. I am famous (with myself) for packing too much. It is a habit learned from my mother – bring everything so you are prepared for everything. Turns out you can be prepared with much less. Last year I made the extremely wise decision of buying packing cubes from Amazon which help to compress especially clothes so you have more space and stress less about repacking.

817apzpolsl-_ux679_It’s really simple. You fold intelligently or roll up. It’s amazing the small space it fits into, and you can easily categorize by clothing item.

Winter looks good on my backyard.

Last year on the Gymnázium ski trip, I took a pretty big duffel bag but it actually had a tiny bit of wiggle room! I had decided to sacrifice, bringing only 2 sweaters, 3 shirts and 3 pairs of pants (including the leggings I wore under my ski pants every day) – excluding ski gear – for a week-long trip. I would usually bring at least 2 more each of shirts and pants. But although it hurt, I know I usually pack clothes I never wear and it takes up empty space. I cut it out at the packing stage this time and was happier.

Unplug. On your trip, dare not to stare at your map every five seconds. (I exempt myself from those first moments arriving in a new place, as my usual stunt is to find the correct street to walk down and immediately walk down it the wrong way for 15 minutes before rechecking.) Allow yourself to get lost. Prague, Ljubljana, and Lviv are great cities for this.  Big enough to hold your interest for days, small enough to be entirely walkable. They come with cobblestone streets included. Even in New York, when you’re not in a rush – pick a neighborhood and find hidden gems.

And write postcards! I send one to my parents from every new city I visit, as a reminder not to forget who I am.

Put down the left in favor of the right. And have great piercings. Photo credit to Michael Geffner.

Engage with locals. I hate when I hear someone has visited New York but didn’t give themselves a chance to talk with any New Yorker besides the one that was selling them tickets. What’s the point of traveling if you don’t learn from the perspective of the people who live there? To get to know the real heart of the city, I chat with anyone I can – waiters, baristas, the old lady selling me museum tickets (if she speaks English. Which she didn’t in Lviv, so I spoke Czukrainglish). Couchsurfing is great for this.

Take quality smartphone pictures. Lonely Planet gives tips here.

Arahova, Greece

And from Wanderlust UK:

I will try something new
Cycling, microlighting, baking, batiking, paddleboarding, perfume-making – whatever! In 2016 I will have a go at something I’ve never done before, something that helps me delve into a destination, understand what makes it tick or is just jolly good mind-expanding fun.

I will go solo 
If I can’t find someone to travel with, I won’t wait until I do – I’ll travel on my own. And if I am travelling with someone else, I’ll find time on that trip to make a moment just for me – be it a day-trip away or an hour for a coffee – so I can travel without compromise and bond with the place by myself.

Anyone who knows me knows I especially agree with that last one.

I want to try new things every year. This is what keeps life from being boring! From ballroom dance to skiing to playing the ukulele. Sometime soon I plan to try snowboarding again (the first time was when I was 12 and it did not end well) and I’ve wanted to try scuba diving for years. I bought the book, I had a consultation, but I “didn’t have enough time” to follow through. This June for sure! 😀

Me stopping for coffee in Lviv. At the same place. For the third time.


Five of my Travelutions for 2018

  1. Visit 3-4 new countries (to make 25!). I’m going to Sofia, Bulgaria in February, and maybe I’ll make it to another Balkan state. Maybe this summer I’ll find time for my fantasy trip through Helsinki and the Baltic states…
  2. Volunteer abroad. WWOOF is the premier site for finding volunteer work with a housing arrangement.
  3. Have one electronics-free trip. Which means, when I stop in a coffee shop (which I frequently do), pick up the journal and not the phone.
  4. Make it back to Romania – one of my favorite countries – and specifically to Iasi, where my great-grandfather was from. Plus a side trip to Moldova, which is just over the border.
  5. Visit western Germany. I’ve been to a bunch of cities in eastern Germany, but I’ve heard the west is much different considering the many years it was separated from the GDR.

What are your travelutions for 2018?

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