In January we’ll be unveiling our annual list of great destinations for indie travelers for 2017, and we hope it’ll inspire all you folks to get out on the road and see the world.
We know there will be some changes in store for the travel industry and travelers around the world, but we think one thing that won’t change is travel’s ability to transform us and to make the world a smaller place as we learn more about people and cultures different from our own.
1. Take your travel in any portion you can
At BootsnAll, we believe that the life-changing experience of extended travel is possible for almost anyone. But we also understand that it’s not always the right fit (or the right time) for every traveler. If you can’t get away for longer trips, take your travel in small chunks. Taking weekend trips and planning your trips around holidays to take advantage of extra free days off can help you get more out of limited time. Just do your best to pick destinations that seem manageable for the amount of time that you have, don’t worry about “seeing it all.” You can always return at some point in the future.
2. Earn your experiences
3. See less, experience more
You know the traveler type….the one who runs around from monument to museum, pausing for a moment to snap a picture, and then scurrying off to check the next item off a packed itinerary. It’s easy to recognize the most extreme examples of this type of whirlwind traveler; it’s harder to recognize the signs of trying to do to much in your own travel behavior.
If you find yourself needing a vacation after your trip, if the only conversations you have with locals involve ordering food or buying museum tickets, and if you come home with more photographs than memories, you may be forsaking the experience of travel for the accomplishment of it. Travel shouldn’t be about getting it done, but about savoring the moment. Slow down, unpack, relax, stay awhile.
4. Invest in good gear
5. Protect yourself
No one wants to think about something going wrong on a trip, but nothing ruins a trip faster than unexpected illness or injury, and the financial strain that can come with them. Most travelers won’t need insurance on their trip; they’ll return home with only happy memories. But for those who do encounter unexpected problems, insurance can be a literal lifesaver. From replacing stolen goods to getting you home in the event of major injury, insurance is one of those things which, when you need it, you really need it. Protecting yourself, your family, and your financial investment in your trip is worth the minor expense.
>> Shop for travel insurance
6. Get past the “once-in-a-lifetime” roadblock
“I’ll probably only go to Europe once, so I want to see it all.”
“This will be our last trip before we have kids, so it needs to be amazing.”
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to splurge on a trip you’ll remember forever, and of course there are some destinations that you may only go to once. But the problem with the “once-in-a-lifetime” mentality is that it leads to “all-or-nothing” thinking. Too many travelers think that they don’t have enough time or money to “do the place right” and so they keep waiting until they have more time or more money. Except the moment never comes, and so they never go.
Snap out of it! One week in Italy is better than none, and going on a budget safari is better than never going at all. Compromise on your dream trips and you’ll find it’s easier to make them a reality.
7. Change up your travel style
If you’ve been traveling for any length of time, you probably have a well-defined travel style. You might be a budget-backpacker, a mid-range traveler, or a slow traveler; you might crave adventure, prefer the beach, or stick to cities. Change things up a bit!
If you usually go budget, splurge a bit on your next trip – book one night in an ultra-luxe hotel, or bump up to business class, or spend big on a multi-course gourmet feast. If you prefer the finer things in life, seek out some street food or try a night at a hostel. If you’re an adventure junkie, take a break on the beach for a few days, and if you’re a sun-worshipper, add some active adventures off the beach. Solo traveler? Plan a trip with your parents. Are you part of a traveling duo? Go it alone next time. Changing things up can help you discover more to love about travel.
>> Read: Solo Travel Pros and Cons
8. Save the planet you love to explore
You can’t eliminate the negative impact your travel has, but you can reduce or offset it. Travel slowly, get around on foot or bicycle or take mass transit as much as possible. Respect the local culture and environment and only support businesses that do the same. Give back to the local communities you visit, and encourage others to do the same.
9. Boldly go solo
Traveling alone for the first time can be scary. You might worry if it’s safe, if you’ll be lonely, who you will talk to. But what you’ll quickly discover is that solo travelers are never really alone unless they want to be, and that there is always someone to talk to, eat with, or explore alongside. Many solo travelers also say they meet more people than when they travel in a group, as they are more approachable alone. If you’ve never gone on a trip by yourself, make this the year you do, even if it’s just for a weekend. And if you have taken a few trips alone, go bigger this year, traveling solo longer or farther than you have in the past.
10. Learn something new
11. Be a traveler at home
Part of travel is about experiencing new places, seeing and doing new things, and meeting new people. So many travelers are open all these things when they’re on a trip to a foreign place, and yet they quickly forget the traveler’s mindset as soon as they return home.
Be a traveler no matter where you are. Be a tourist in your own town. Try a new restaurant; head to a side of town you never visit; find a new event, festival, or parade you’ve never attended; go to a museum you’ve never explored. Look at your familiar environment with fresh eyes and try to see it as you would a new destination.
12. Eat something that scares you
13. Find your quest
The earliest adventurers didn’t travel to “get away” from something, they were searching for something. You don’t have to go in search of a new land or a new trade route in order to follow in their footsteps. Plan your own quest, whether it be an ambitious goal like biking from North America to the bottom of South America or a more personal journey, like tracing you family history. Having a greater purpose to your goal can give you more motivation to achieve it.
>> Read: What is Your Why?
14. Talk to strangers and make meaningful connections
15. Be impulsive
Some of the most memorable experience are the ones we never expected to have. This year, vow to be more spontaneous. Book a last minute trip or arrive somewhere with no plans and just see where the wind takes you. On a longer trip, leave one day (or week) or one destination up in the air, or plan a mystery day trip where you just get on the next train and see where it takes you in an hour’s time. You can even apply the same idea locally. Pick a nearby city and just drive or hop on public transit and get off at a new stop. With no time to prepare, you’ll have to be more open to serendipity.
16. Be an inspiration
17. Ditch the technology
Smartphones and easy access to the internet have been great for travelers. We can stay connected with home, easily make travel arrangements, and get local information at the touch of a button. But all this technology can also keep us from truly being present; we’re too busy tweeting about the moment to really appreciate it. Take some time to disconnect. Spend at least one day on your trip without tweeting, Facebooking, or texting. Go a week without checking email. Or really take a tech-break by traveling to a destination where you won’t have any internet or cell service at all.
18. Make this the year you do it
What are your 2017 travel resolutions? What, specifically, do you want to do in the next 12 months?
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