It’s that time again – gluttony and over-indulgence has got you feeling mighty guilty and you’re trying to find a way to counter-balance it. It wouldn’t be a festive season if Christmas Day and Boxing Day weren’t followed by a bold statement not too dissimilar from, “right, that’s it, from January I am gonna …”.
What will the “I am gonna…” be this year? Will you join/rejoin a gym? Will you give up chocolate? Will you learn a new language, or perhaps start writing a novel? I’m sure we all have something we would like to adhere a change to. Or an improvement upon one’s life. It could be anything, from serious to quirky.
“I am going to give up smoking.”
“I am going to go on more/less dates.”
At the end of the day, we have good intentions at this time of the year, fueled by smashing plates full of food down our throats and sitting around the TV drinking cases of beer or festive egg nog. I suppose the end of the Christmas holidays marks a return to reality for many, thus deciding a resolution is in order.
However, how many of you actually stick to these resolutions? How many of your friends and family members have you had to listen to, exclaiming the same shit they said last year, only to have forgotten by January the 3rd?
Let’s take it back to the drawing board; let's analyse where we can actually be right this year; let's make a resolution stick, for once.
So, how about this?
“I am going to go travelling this year.”
How does that sound? Many of my friends have messaged me asking for travel advice, asked how I have funded my way around different parts of the globe, and asked what its like to live outside of England. Many of my friends have also decided that it is too late to go travelling due to wanting to build a career, start a family, or save up for a house and a wedding. Fair enough, we all go our own separate paths in life, and these friends of mine are mostly happy with these decisions. But if you are struggling down your path, you look down your Instagram feed and have immediate wanderlust, or you just simply want to leave your native country … YOU are the one that needs to make the change.
And when you do, here are 6 helpful tips for you:
1. What’s stopping you? … Like, really…?:
As I stated before, we are all on different paths in life. Sometimes, there are factors that just can’t be ignored that focus our priorities on much more important things than exploration and travel. I get that. However, for some of you, its time to take a good, long look at yourselves, and think:
“What is stopping me from going travelling?”
I hate to over-use this phrase, but you only live once. There are many cool and amazing things happening outside your bubble that you should not have to miss out on. If you have a job but don’t save enough money, what can you cut out for a few months, in order to have travel money? If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend holding you back, can you persuade them that is something you NEED to do? Will your family survive if you were gone for a few weeks? Is having employment the be-all and end-all of your existence?
If you’re just simply struck down by fear of being on your own, reach out to people who have travelled. Ask them questions. Join Facebook groups like Girls Love Travel, Guys Do Travel or World Nomads and read what others have written. Plan a pretend trip to somewhere as practise and look online for existing travel itineraries.
Summary: Write down what is more important. Seeing the world for the first time, or seeing the inside of your world for the millionth time. Reach out to others who are or have been in the same boat as you through social media. Find out how they made the decision to just go.
2. Keep your job and still go travelling:
We, in the western world, are lucky enough to be granted plenty of paid leave from our jobs. Especially in the UK, it is not unusual to have 28 days of holiday time per annum. However, these days are precious when planning a trip or visiting family during the festive season, for instance.
No matter how long you have off work, you can still put together a travel itinerary to fit your schedule. For a weekend, it is easy to fly to anywhere in Europe with no hassle. For a couple of weeks, you can literally cover a host of countries, or one country extensively.
It’s not all about how many countries you visit, its about what you get out of those countries, educationally and culturally. Spending two weeks travelling through Vietnam will mean seeing a whole array of landscapes, meeting a complete contrast of people and trying all of the local delicacies. Spending ten days travelling through Morocco will mean interacting with French, Spanish and Arabic speakers, it will mean exploring the desert on a quadbike, and walking through the colourful medinas of each city. Every country has so much to offer.
Summary: Focus on one or two countries, and book your time off work. Its not about the number of countries you’ve visited, its about what you learn from each one.
3. Try something new:
When I think of a typical British holiday destination, I see hotels along a sandy beach, as far as the eye can see. I see all-inclusive packages, and lick-arse hotel staff. I see boredom after day three.
But then again, who am I to tell you that this is not what you want from a holiday? The thought of doing nothing but laying on a beach for two weeks drinking endless cocktails is pure BLISS for many, and justifiably so if all you do is work 24-7.
All I’m suggesting is that you turn your head to the other side of a getaway. What is beyond those hotel-lined streets? How do the locals live? Where do your hotel staff come from and what is there to experience there?
Some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen have been after a short trek somewhere, or a local bus ride to the end of the road. There is more to life than looking forward to those two weeks doing nothing on the beach. You could do that at Christmas instead ;).
Summary: Discover what else there is beyond your resort walls. See the world for what it really is, not just an all-inclusive holiday.
4. Travel light:
Trust me, it is the hardest thing, packing. Your family already know you’re leaving, you’ve taken that huge step to book your flight, bus or train ticket outta there, but when it actually comes to leaving, the stinger is managing to fit all your stuff into your bags.
What you MUST remember is, what can absolutely NOT live without? If you have three types of trainers (sneakers to my American readers) packed in your backpack, TAKE THEM ALL OUT and put one back in. Your Nikes. Just do it… ;).
With regards to clothes, take enough underwear and socks to last you a maximum 10 days. Those expensive garments from Lacoste or Chanel need to stay at home awaiting your return.
For the ladies, make-up and hair products are essential, I know. However, I have a suggestion. Find the smallest bottles, cans and tubes you can buy, and take those with you. You don’t need those big hair spray cans, or those frigging PALLETS of foundation, just take the minimum.
Summary: Make sure you prioritise. Buy travel-sized bathroom/make-up supplies. Take only the clothes you won’t mind throwing away if you had to.
5. Meet the locals:
Travelling in a foreign land can be incredibly intimidating and decisions can be wrongly made when in a state of panic or confusion. The best thing you can do in these situations is open your mouth and ask someone.
Switch shoes with that person who may be able to help you. What would you do if they approached you with a furrowed brow and worried eyes in YOUR local town and asked for directions? You would probably help them with a smile on your face. Well sure enough, people are really nice abroad, too. In fact, I have found that the nicest people I have ever met haven’t even spoken the same language as me. Many of these people that are willing to converse with you are just happy that you’ve even chosen to visit their country, let alone spoken to them over others. Seriously, as long as you approach them with respect, they will likely help you, or at least point you in the direction of someone that can.
Outside of needing help, just converse with them normally. Say hello in their language, eat next to them in a local restaurant, share a drink with them and talk about football with them. Soon enough, you will reaffirm your love for humanity that you may have lost in your own country.
Summary: Converse with people, respect the locals and use your words and your smile to build bonds. Don’t forget, you’re repping your nationality.
6. Become a local expert:
Ok, so you can’t travel too much because you have way too many responsibilities to take of back at home. Fair enough. So therefore, why not become that person, that ambassador, for people to approach you about YOUR town?
There are always local pubs and restaurants, sports centres/teams, tourist attractions and gorgeous green spots to promote. Social media has gifted us with the power of transparency or accessibility nowadays, so why not jump at the chance of repping your local community? Start reviewing, take photos and really delve into the community that you are part of.
If a new tea room opens, visit, experience and write about it. If there is a family promotion at a neighbouring tourist attraction, write about it. If there are areas where families can spend uninterrupted quality time, write about it. By setting up a FREE Weebly or WordPress website, people will be able to reach you.
We are very quick to take our nearest cities, towns and villages for granted. I am guilty of this, for sure. We set our sights far and wide, and forget what there is to offer more locally. When that travel bug bites, it’s hard to stay rooted in that one place.
Summary: Enjoy what you have around you. If you find it hard to travel too far for whatever reason, stay local and see what you have overlooked this whole time. Become an ambassador, someone that people can contact regarding your local area.
There is a New Year's Travelution for everyone here, for the New Year. Those struck by wanderlust, those stuck mentally, or those tied down with more important things. The world is a big place and we have so many different ways to enjoy it. If photos on Instagram and Facebook are not enough, then you know you are ready to explore for yourselves. So do some research, find a place you really want to visit, be positive and put together a plan on how you can achieve that visit.