We may well be well in the first month of the year, but it’s never too late to set yourself some New Year Travel Resolutions for the year ahead.
Travelling – either alone, as a couple, in a group or with your family is one of life’s necessities rather than luxuries.
We all need escapism from our daily routines – and we can utilise our travel experiences and adventures to better ourselves and those around us.
Here are some new travel ideas and activities that you can look to start implementing this year…
Take more breaks of shorter durations
This year – for the first time, we’re actually looking at going away three times. And living off a journalist’s wages (me) and a teacher’s salary (VIP) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, trust me.
But by choosing shorter holiday durations and spacing them out through the year – one at Easter, one in the summer holidays – and one at October half-term, we’ll really feel the benefit of having enjoyed the year. Plus it will probably work out a lot cheaper than one long-haul, two-week holiday.
Plus you can’t put a price on taking the time to be with the family and have some downtime together.
Having said that, if you do get the opportunity to travel sans family (outside of the term time holidays), then grab it with both hands!
With just a few exceptions, prices always increase dramatically when the kids are off school. Even if you only manage a short hop across the channel – a change is as good as a rest!
Try new activities
When you go away, rather than just ‘flying and flopping’ on the beach, challenge yourself to try new activities.
A great idea is to book activities before you travel so you’ve got even more to look forward to while you’re on holiday. There are so many opportunities to try.
For example, when we went to Disney World in Florida last year, we booked to try A Boggy Creek Airboat Ride – and we all loved it. Even if you're just on a weekend break in London – there are so many alternative things to try – I bet you didn't know you could go on a Walking Food Tour of Soho!
Enjoy new experiences – and even learning new skills whilst away – can only enrich your holiday – and doing something other than lazing on the beach or lying on a sunbed and is a sure-fire way to make your holiday a memorable one.
Pick a new destination
When we choose our holiday destinations each year we always choose somewhere we haven’t been before.
Both VIP and I travelled independently after we went to university – I spent 15 months travelling the world and it’s something I’ll never forget.
I had some of the best memories meeting new people, trying new experiences and getting to grips with local culture and traditions – it was a real eye-opener.
And because I understood that each destination, country or region had something different to offer, I’ve never lost sight of this.
And even though I bloody loved our two week getaway to South Africa a couple of years ago – and would love a return visit, I’d like to recreate similar holiday memories in a new destination.
Travel broadens the mind – and if you’re always looking to go to new places, learn local phrases and appreciate a destination’s history, cultures and customs, then you really can say that you’re well-travelled (and have friends in all places!)
If you’ve travelled as a couple or a family – how about doing things differently this year?
If you get on well with your parents or the in-laws, why not suggest a multi-generational holiday? We tried this out last year and it worked out really well for us.
Yes, there may be situations where you find yourself compromising, but if everyone’s fair game, then you’ll probably end up coming back with memories that will last you a lifetime.
Alternatively, if you usually just go away alone or in a couple, why not suggest to another couple or family that you get away together?
It doesn’t have to be a two-week holiday in some far-flung location – even a long weekend at a holiday park could be just the ticket – and it’s a great way of determining if you’d suit going away for longer or overseas with the other party without spending a fortune.
Get the best deal
I’m thrifty by nature and I enjoy helping others save money on things like travel and home interiors – as these are my two favourite things (apart from the family of course!).
But I always say, why pay full price for something when you can find something equally as good – if not better – for a lot less? There’s a lot to be said on getting the best value for money and come away feeling smug that you’ve managed to save yourself a few quid.
These are ‘compare the market’ type websites and will take a lot of the hard work out of finding the best prices and holidays that suit you.
The learning lesson is to shop around to get the best price to suit your circumstances – and not to settle for second best – or the very first thing that you see.
Make it tailor-made
There are two types of holiday: Package holidays where you pay one price and your flights, transfers and accommodation are all included – and something called Dynamically Packaged Holidays, where you (or your travel agent) bolts together the different components of a holiday separately.
The beauty of designing your own holiday (booking your flights, hotels and transfers) separately is that you can shop around and very often get some fantastic deals.
You can also add-on other components to the holiday – an overnight stay at an airport hotel, a ferry crossing – check out Ok-Ferry, attraction ticket or car rental for example with companies like Holiday Extras.
Face your fears head-on
I’ve put myself for plenty of challenges while I’ve been on holiday. I’ve parachuted out of a plane in Australia, launched myself off a crane at Chelsea Bridge to try bungee jumping and, my most recent and craziest travel experience, was swimming with sharks in South Africa – OUTSIDE OF THE CAGE!
This doesn’t mean you need to follow my examples and go a bit crazy while you’re away, but everyday activities like rock-climbing when you’re scared of heights or Stand-Up Paddle Boarding when you’re not a great swimmer, will boost your confidence when you’ve achieved them.
There’s something very powerful about overcoming your fears – by thinking more like a child. It brings out the best in you – and again, you’ll return home more likely to recall these great experiences to your grandchildren!
Get fit & stay fit!
Although we’re all probably guilty of letting the diet slide a little while we’re away, I usually don’t let the guilt get to me.
I know that I’m usually on the go throughout the day – either swimming, walking or enjoying great activities, meaning that I’m losing calories.
However, more and more operators, hoteliers, cruise lines and holiday companies in general are jumping on the bandwagon and realising that people are looking to use a holiday as a great way to improve their fitness.
You’ll know what I mean when you stay at a hotel and see the list of daily activities includes things like aqua aerobics and sunset yoga!
It’s a good idea to keep your eyes peeled for these – as many of them are free, but there are plenty of other ways to stay healthy on holiday if you set out to do so.
Volunteering yourself and utilising youur skills is an immensely satisfying way to really enjoy your holiday.
And I’m not talking about picking grapes at a vineyard – although come to think about it, that’s a great activity to try!
From teaching and building projects, to natural disaster relief and conservation projects, there’s a whole variety of options out there to try – and tour operators are creating more and more ‘voluntourism' opportunities by the second it seems.
Alternatively, you can always look for your own opportunities to help local communities while you’re away.
When we were holidaying in South Africa, we saw a local rural tour advertised to visit a Township and local school – and we jumped at the chance.
It was a very humbling experience and I’d 100% recommend it; seeing our kids handing out sweets to the kids of the local school – some of whom were so poor they couldn’t even afford shoes – was such an eye-opener for them and they loved the feeling of being able to help others.
Which of the above New Year Travel Resolutions have you tried before? And which are you keen on trying soon?