Thank god. We are finally close to saying goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017! With the New Year comes one big blank slate and the opportunity to start anew, create goals and make plans.
What’s your New Year’s resolution? Is it to lose 10 pounds or cut out sugar and dairy? Kudos to you if you make it beyond the 15th of January, but I think you can create a bigger, better goal.
Here are five reasons why you can and should resolve to travel more in 2017:
IT’S CHEAPER THAN YOU THINK
There’s a myth that travel is always a hugely costly expense. While it absolutely can be an expensive investment, there are ways to be strategic about when and how you are booking that will save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
Choosing your destination based on how far your dollar can go is an obvious money saver. Right now, places like Mexico, Morocco and Chile are no longer a mere dream.
Using websites like Skyscanner and Skiplagged will find you the cheapest possible airfare and traveling off-season will earn you lower rates on hotels & tours. For example, Greece sees the most visitors during the month of July. If you travel there during off-season in October, you’ll see a difference in price of airfare + accommodations of around $500 – $800.
Signing up for certain credit cards can also help make travel financially possible. I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Cardholders receive double points for every dollar spent on travel & food and receive one point for every other dollar. If you spend over $4,000 on the Sapphire in the first 3 months, you earn an automatic 50,000 points. That’s $625 to redeem on travel.
In just the first five months of having the Sapphire, I now have over $800 to spend on travel. That’s a round trip flight to and from Istanbul with transportation to and from Cappadocia and Pamukkale – one of my dream trips at the moment!
( And no, this is not sponsored. I just love my Chase Sapphire. )
LIFE ISN’T GETTING ANY LONGER
Everyone loves to talk about traveling, but when it comes down to actually booking a trip, people have a wide variety of excuses. “I’ll just wait a couple of years until I’ve saved more than enough.” “I’m focusing on my career this year.”
While financial stability and professional development are both legitimate concerns, many young people make the mistake of putting off travel in exchange for the belief that they can do it years & years down the line when they have more money. I think it is irresponsible to think you have an abundance of time.
You don’t. And life will fly by.
Giving into excuses and pushing your dream trip off for 1 year turns into 5 years turns into 10 years. At age 90, you will not reflect on your life and wish that you had been 10 pounds lighter in the year 2017. You will wish that you had seen Iguazu Falls or dived the Silfra Fissure … or whatever else you keep pushing further and further down your bucket list!
Make it happen. Save the money. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
YOU CAN COMBINE IT WITH ANY OTHER RESOLUTION
Travel goes hand-in-hand with most other resolutions you might have for the New Year.
Is your resolution to lose some extra weight? Work some adventure into your next trip, spend hours at a time wandering around a European town or rent a bike to explore a city. There are endless ways to work physical activity into any travel itinerary and say goodbye to those extra 5 pounds!
Do you want to give back more to the community? Make your next trip about philanthropy. Get involved with organizations like World Assistance for Cambodia, Volunteer Nepal or SEE Turtles. These are communities around the world that would benefit greatly from your involvement.
Is one of your goals to spend more time with your family? There is no better way to bond with others than by traveling together! Exploring a new country and experiencing a different culture is the single best way to create memories and strengthen a relationship with your loved ones.
Are you resolving to be a happier person? Luckily for you …
TRAVEL BRINGS TRUE HAPPINESS
I am a huge advocate of the belief that nothing on this Earth will improve your outlook quite like travel will.
While on the road, you will learn to embrace experiences outside of your comfort zone. You will try foods that scare you at first, but that quickly become one of your favorite dishes. You will face unexpected situations of clashing culture and miscommunication, and you will have to navigate blindly through them. You will discover that you are capable of a lot more than you ever thought.
You will see beautiful works of nature that will take your breath away. You will laugh and have meaningful conversations with complete strangers. You will learn something new everyday, keeping your brain active and your heart adaptive. You will make memories that you’ll be able to reflect on with a smile for the rest of your life.
You will experience all of these things and you will feel pure, elated happiness that will last for years and years.
IT FOSTERS UNDERSTANDING
There is this unique moment all travelers experience at some point that makes them some of the most open-minded and accepting people on this planet. It happens when you meet someone who, on the surface, appears to be so radically different from yourself and then, through conversation or a simple interaction, you are suddenly overwhelmed by all of the ways in which you are similar. You become acutely aware of the universal truths that connect us all, regardless of race, religion or gender.
It’s an addicting feeling and is one of the aspects of travel that makes people want to explore more and more. After just one of these “lightbulb” interactions, you are bitten by the travel bug, forever driven forward by a powerful inertia to meet as many people and experience as many cultures as possible.
I’ll give you an example. Years ago, I volunteered at a school in rural Pailin, Cambodia. Of the hundreds of kids at the school, I especially connected with a girl in the fifth grade. Srey was incredibly eager to learn more English, always asking questions and completing assignments with excitement. She would follow me after class, taking my hand and leading me to the playground, where she would ask me questions about America and my family.
On the last day of school, she took me to her house where she lived with her mom and grandparents. Walking there on a dirt road lined with landmine warning signs, I didn’t know what to expect. The house could not have been more than 200 square feet and was made entirely of wood slats and dirt. Her mother welcomed me with tea and, understanding less English than her daughter, did nothing more than smile at me. Srey told me that she wanted to go to college one day and gave me a handmade card – two pieces of printer paper bound together with yarn – that said how much she would miss me.
Srey was the first time I felt that feeling. Despite the surface differences between the two of us, she was a girl much like myself – one who craved knowledge, love and safety. She loved the same way I do and felt pain the same way I do. She was an amazing young human being.
Moments like these foster understanding and acceptance – two things I think we can all agree the world needs a bit more of …
If you’re still not convinced that “travel more” should be your #1 resolution in 2017, read about the places that are waiting for you! And here are some books that might help spark some wanderlust:
What is your New Year’s resolution?
If it’s to travel more, where do you want to travel to the most?
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