2016 Travel Goals in Review
Revisiting resolutions for 2016 plus new goals for 2017
I did pretty well with sticking to my resolutions in 2015, and as we kickstart another year with impending adventures, I wanted to take a moment to look back on my resolutions from 2016 and see how I fared in the resolution game. My goals for 2016 were about letting go more than anything, and I’m trying to continue that in 2017. This problem afflicts many travelers, but I think we have a tendency to think we have to cram in every earthly adventure possible into a single year. I have a travel bucket list that’s a mile long and growing, and we’re always scheming to try to achieve some of our travel goals and experience far-flung destinations that we’ve dreamed of. Just a couple of days ago, we had a conversation with a hotel guest of ours who is preparing for an upcoming adventure in India and Bhutan. In her early sixties, she’s done a fair bit of traveling but India was a new experience for her and her first brush with the country made her want to go back for more. Her comment? ‘You’ve got to save something for the future.’
What a revelation. I think much of the millennial mentality strays a fair bit from our parents’ generation. We don’t want to settle down, we want to see the world, we want to enjoy adventures, we value experiences over material things. Yet in that newfound freedom with adventurous goals, we sometimes forget that we hopefully have much life ahead of us and many decades of adventures to experience. We don’t have to be masters of the universe by the time we’re 30. I’m all for seeing as much of the world as we can, but it’s a great reminder that the world is vast with so many adventures to unfold. There’s a lifetime of journeys to be had at all phases of life, and having some adventures waiting in the future is a beautiful thing.
Now back to my resolutions. How did I do with my travel goals for 2016?
Know My Travel Priorities
1My 2016 Goal: I’ve talked about this before: knowing your own travel style vs. being easily captivated by would-be experiences touted in glossy ads. Over the years I’ve learned more and more about the types of travel experiences I personally value. We have a lot of great travels on the horizon this year (more on that to come), and I’ve resolved more than ever to focus on crafting itineraries that really cater to the type of experiences that we genuinely enjoy, not just the activities that guidebooks dub as musts.
How did we do? Overall, I think we’ve really begun to master knowing ourselves and prioritizing what matters to us (it’s an achievement that actually takes a while). Our trip to Africa really embodied this for us: we worked with the team at Inspired Journeys and laid out our priorities. We prioritized spending time in the DRC. People raved about Rwanda and Uganda, but those were secondary for us. In the end, we loved that the Congo was our focus because it ended up being one of the most special travel experiences of our lives. We were also adamant that we’d never embark on a group travel experience again after our time in Israel. We had drivers and guides but everything we did was private. It was more costly, but for us that was a non-negotiable element that we prioritized. In the end, we were happy with every penny we spent, knowing we crafted an itinerary that reflected our style and goals.
Eat Like a Local
2My 2016 Goal: When it comes to cultural immersion, dining – and wine tasting! – are integral experiences. Even as a non-meat eater I manage to delve into local favorites pretty well. Last year, I teamed up with BonAppetour to talk about opportunities to eat local, something that I’ve been interested in for a long while. This year I’d like to make it a reality by dining in a local home and learning carefully cultivated techniques first hand. Prime target: Cape Town, South Africa.
How did we do? We did okay on this one. I had been primed for dining in someone’s home during one of our adventures but that never panned out. We did, however, embark on an awesome wine tasting excursion in South Africa with a day in Stellenbosch and a few nights in Franschhoek. In the Congo, we had incredible meals using locally sourced ingredients, and in Rwanda we sipped cocktails infused with tea grown on surrounding plantations.
Focus on Wellness
3My 2016 Goal: The last time I traveled to a wellness focused destination was our trip to Dominica in 2014. That’s not to say that you can’t have a health and wellness type experience outside of traditionally holistic destinations but it’s not something we’ve scouted out. This year, we’ve decided to make wellness a focus. We’re working with a personal trainer (!) to focus on physical health but I’m also trying to focus on personal/mental wellness by regularly taking time to clear my head and focus on the present.
How did we do? We worked with a personal trainer from January through September, up to a couple of days before we departed on our trip to Africa. In Africa our ‘workouts’ hinged more on daily activities; staying active on chimpanzee treks, gorilla treks, and embarking on the hike to Mt. Nyiragongo. I wasn’t as good about my barre practice as I would have liked to have been; perhaps that’s a continued goal for this year. As far as mental wellness, it’s an ongoing mission. I have a difficult time fully disconnecting, but I do find that working out physically also provides time for me to escape mentally a bit.
Enjoy the Unplanned
4My 2016 Goal: I’m such a planner. I can’t help it. I love the ritual of planning a getaway, crafting an itinerary, talking with people on the ground, trying to seek out authentic experiences, etc. With all of that said, I rarely leave time for nothing. That means, seldom an entire afternoon without the prospect of achieving something. This year I’m going to try to allow myself to enjoy the beauty of the unplanned; the simplicity of sunset cocktails and a conversation, the relaxation of an unexpected massage in the late afternoon, or the rare indulgence of reading a book during daylight hours.
How did I do? This is an ongoing goal for me and it ties into my 2017 goal (below). I was better about unplugging during our time in Africa, partly because I wanted to and partly because I was forced to. In Uganda and the Congo specifically, we had many days where we had no wifi which meant that we enjoyed conversations and good books. I read more in Africa than I did the rest of the year combined. We spent sunset at the safari lodge chatting with the proprietor and other guests, just enjoying the warm evening air and good conversations. We had great talks about Ugandan and Rwandan history over dinner with our guide, Milton, asking questions about real issues to get a local perspective. It was refreshing and inspiring. As far as embracing the unplanned, after our near-death moment on Lake Kivu, we had to rearrange all of our plans for the Congo in terms of timing. In years past, we may have been far less calm in the aftermath of our scary boating incident but this year we talked calmly, figured out a solution and continued on with our journey. We let ourselves feel the fear of the moment, and then we promptly let it pass so we could continue on and enjoy the remainder of our trip.
Goal for 2017: Live Spontaneously.
Building off of my goals for last year, this year it’s about spontaneity in travel (and in life). There’s not been a year that’s gone by where I haven’t planned our year of travels. Without fail, by January of a given year we already have a couple of trips in the pipeline. We’ve always talked about throwing planning to the wayside and playing it by ear; dealing with travel on a month to month basis. I’ve always wanted the experience of waking up one day and deciding where to next? Or going to the airport and just picking a destination off a map. We’ve never done that, and this is our year of spontaneity and enjoying the excitement of the unknown. We have one anchor trip this year to Croatia and Montenegro to celebrate a milestone anniversary for Scott’s parents but beyond that we’re winging it. We’re going to play with the idea of last-minute flights, last minutes hotels, last-minute dinner reservations and last-minute festivals. We’ll see where the world takes us, and I’m excited for that journey to start.
Do you have any travel goals or resolutions for 2017?