It’s the time of year for reflection and good intentions and rather than share with you my highlights from 2016 (I got hitched so had a fab year but know that may not be the case for some of you) I’d thought I’d share my travel resolutions for next year instead. Here’s 7 ways I’m going to try to be a better, smarter and happier traveller in 2017.
1.Stop Getting Stung With Overseas Bank Charges
For a seasoned traveller I flush a lot of money down the drain on overseas withdrawal charges. Just recently I was charged $5 on a $20 withdrawal at a Westpac (who I bank with) ATM in New Zealand – and that was on top of the unfriendly exchange rate and ATM fees. So my resolution for 2017 is to be smarter and either change who I bank with or use one of those prep-paid travel debit cards, which thus far has required more pre-planning that I’ve managed to pull off.
2. Travel Over Land
I took 43 (mostly long haul flights) last year and I’m massively concerned about my carbon footprint. I’d like to do more overland travel in 2017 – going by train or coach instead of taking internal flights. Based on what I experienced on The Ghan this year I think this might be a more rewarding way to travel overall.
3. Take More Public Transport
I love Uber but I’ve begun using it so much on my travels that I think it might be taking me away from experiences I could be having on pubic transport. In Tokyo recently, where taxis are expensive and Uber is rare, I crossed the city several times a day by train and loved the experience of seeing locals go about their daily lives as I tried to pretend I was one of them.
4. Focus on Cities & Islands
Tokyo also made me realise how much of a city girl I am. I love the buzz you get from being lost in an unfamiliar crowd, I love skyscrapers and lofty views, getting to grips with complicated transport systems, the markets, the cafes, the shopping..
Seoul is already on the travel list for 2017 but I’d love to throw some more trending cities into the mix. Any suggestions?
At the other end of the spectrum the perfect antidote for a hectic city break is a trip to a remote island. Our honeymoon to the Maldives this year was everything we hoped and more but boy do I have an obsession with tropical islands now. In 2017 I’d love to chillaxe in any of the islands of Tahiti or perhaps finally make it to Hawaii. I feel I’ve misjudged Hawaii in the past and if my Insta feed is anything to go by its got beaches, scenery and sweet treats I’d adore.
5. Put Down The Camera/Phone/Selfie Stick
This is a hard resolution for someone’s whose job it is to document their travels but I have realised over the years that I don’t need to be photographing and sharing nearly as much as I used to. Over time I’ve learnt to be more selective about what I capture and share so that I can spend more time in the moment – I think it helps me produce better content at the end of the trip if I make sure I am more mentally present during it!
What I have noticed on my travels though is that as I’ve tried to pull back there are more and more tourists pushing (sometimes literally) forward to photograph and record things. I saw what you may have assumed would be laid back passengers on The Ghan almost have a scuffle with someone else who got in their photo. None of us have a right to get the ‘perfect shot’ at the expense of someone else’s experience and getting stressed over it is crazy. What do people do with all these photos or videos anyway? Bore the kids?!
6. Stay Loyal To One Airline Alliance
On a geeky note I’m also working on upping my frequent flyer game. Since winning Gold Status with Virgin Australia in a blogging contest I’ve been pretty good at booking trips with Virgin or its partners Singapore Airlines and Etihad where possible. I’ve earned enough credit for Gold Status for another year but recently I’ve been considering switching to Qantas/One World as it would open up more options from Oz and Qantas tend to feed you better on short-haul flights! My sister just flew Qantas from London though and ended up with a pretty miserable 27 hour delay in Dubai with poor service and communication so I’m torn at the moment. Would love to know anyone’s thoughts on which partner programme they prefer?
7. Try Harder To Learn The Local Lingo
Sometimes being an English speaker makes me a lazy traveller. It’s all too easy to get by with 2 or 3 local words and communicate the rest of the time in English, until you go to the likes of Japan and discover you can’t rely on your own language (and mime skills!) all the time. I always buy a guide-book for my travels so this year I vow to study the translation pages at the back a little better. I want to arrive at my destinations with at least the basic phrases like ‘good morning’, ‘thank you’, ‘how much is this’ and ‘ 2 beers please’ up my sleeve!
Do you have any travel resolutions for 2017? Are mine similar?
Happy New Year! I hope you ring in the New Year in style wherever in the world you’re celebrating.