“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~Miriam Beard
Next year, I plan to visit two countries as part of my New Year’s “Travel Resolutions.” First is Indonesia, as I’ve always wanted to see Borobudur and, of course, Yogyakarta, center of Javenese culture.
In the second half of the year, I want to reward myself with a big overseas trip because by that time, I’m hopefully done with my master’s thesis (woo-hoo!). It’s a choice between Europe and Egypt.
I will visit at least two Philippine provinces. And since I live in Manila I want to do my part in promoting what this city has to offer. So I’m joining some guided tours and visiting museums.
To make this happen, I have set up a separate savings account without ATM access; this will hold a portion of my monthly income, automatically transferred. I will continue brown-bagging my lunch and will only eat out once a week.
I’ll be monitoring my calendar to see where I can include those short trips in and outside of Manila during a long weekend. I signed up for price alerts in several airlines and bought a couple of guidebooks. I’ll be setting aside some time to research the places that I want to go to next year and what papers I need to prepare to obtain a visa.
The key to fulfilling any New Year’s resolution is to plan ahead, make sure that it’s aligned with your personal goals, and not to just list it all down on a whim on New Year’s Eve. No wonder a lot of people end up not doing anything they put in that list.
A study spearheaded by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the U.K.-based University of Hertfordshire, revealed that most of the 700 people they interviewed failed to stick to their New Year’s resolutions.
Interestingly, while the study showed that the lack of willpower is one of the main reasons why people fail to keep up with their resolutions, those who managed to stick to them don’t necessarily have a stronger willpower.
According to Wiseman’s interview with the Guardian, “many of the most successful techniques involve making a plan and helping yourself stick to it.”
People who kept their resolutions broke their goal into smaller steps, rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these, and told their friends about their goals. They also focused on the benefits of success and recorded their progress.
If you always wanted to travel on your own, but have been hesitating to do so for the last few years, then today may be the time to do that.
You don’t need to wait for New Year’s Eve to write your travel resolutions. And believe me, it’s so easy. Here are the five baby steps that you can take towards reaching goal:
1. Be specific with your location.
Be very specific—a city, not a country. Ask yourself where you’ve always wanted to go but never had the time, money, or courage to go on your own. Go to a quiet corner where you won’t be disturbed and write down the name of the city that you really, really want to visit.
2. Commit to a time.
When do you want to go? During the summer holiday? On your birthday? Next Christmas? The only time you’re allowed to take vacation at work? Whenever it is, choose a specific date and make sure your office is on board with the plan. Once you have the time off, it will be a lot easier to push yourself through the planning.
3. Discover your own agenda.
What do you want to do in that place? Visit the art galleries? Go scuba diving? Eat you way to some of the finest restaurants? Shop for shoes? Your itinerary must only include activities that matter to you and not what the guidebook or that know-it-all colleague told you to do.
After you figured out what, where, when, and why you’re going to this city, it’s time to do the “how.” The main questions that you need to answer are: How much would it cost? What are the items you have to bring to be comfortable while traveling? What is the attitude of locals to tourists (especially women tourists) who are on their own?
In this age of (over) information, it’s so easy to find answers to your questions. You can buy the guidebook, surf the net, post your questions in online forums, and even ask your friends and family for recommendations.
While you’re at it, this is the ideal time to tell everyone that on a certain date next year you plan to go to this certain place on your own because _______ (fill in the blank). This reaffirms your motivation and helps create accountability.
5. Build your travel fund.
Once you have a fair idea about the prices of the plane tickets, accommodations, and food, you can then start building a travel fund. You can open a savings account or buy a piggy bank (Chris Guillebeau said that you only need to save $2 a day to travel to any place that you want to go).
You can start living frugally—say goodbye to night outs and expensive nail salons—or find a way to earn an extra income.
The biggest obstacles to having an adventure are likely your own thoughts. As with all resolutions, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Where would you like to travel this year?
Photo by natuu