Yes, yes, I know. It’s too late for resolution time. But then, I believe it’s better to start your resolutions for the year a little late when all the excitement and the dust has already settled. You are now in a zone to understand how and where you are progressing and how the year ahead looks like. So, here I am, exactly one week into the New Year, ready to unleash my travel resolutions upon the world! But before I begin, I would like to add a small note – traditionally, I refrain from making any resolutions but the year gone by (2018), has been such an exciting yet complicated one when it came to travels that I’ve sworn to do some things differently in this coming year. It’s nice to know that most of the things won’t change and despite the sieve a couple of my travel experiences put me through, my love to explore the Earth and the beautiful world it contains remains untarnished. So then, what exactly does top my chart when it comes to travel resolutions for the New Year? Here’s the list!
1. Travel More
Now, this one’s really a no-brainer. My first and my biggest resolution is to be on the move as much as possible. And by travel I do not mean those “exotic” places that are seven seas away. Travel could mean something as simple as a visit to a village on the outskirts of my city – a place rich in culture and yet unexplored. Travel is about discovering new regions, enriching your mind, opening yourself up to new experiences. And this New Year, I plan on doing exactly that!
2. Keep Learning
Each and every trip of mine, no matter how small, has taught me priceless lessons. It could be something serious, like the importance of conservation of resources; or it could be something personal that helped me grow, be a better person. This year on all my trips I promise to be more open to learning, accepting newer cultures and ideas. Learning a new language, a new skill, or simply – the name of a new road I traverse on the journey – 2019, the learnings will continue.
3. Be Aware
Travel has taught me to be more conscious, more aware. Not just in terms of my safety and security, but even the betterment of the place I visit. This new year I promise to keep my eyes open and always stay alert. If I know there’s an issue the region is facing, I shall avoid being a burden there or voluntarily assist in easing the situation in my own little way. Also, I will always be aware of the locals, their lives, their cultures and try and be as open minded as possible.
4. Be Inclusive
It’s really easy to judge people based on their cultures. Coming for a country like India, I know only too well what it is like to be judged. But travel is about understanding that each and every person has his own individual thoughts, ideas, beliefs. And while you might not agree with them, your beliefs in no way make that person’s thought processes incorrect. It is important to be as understanding and as inclusive as possible during travels.
5. Respect Local Customs
Each region has it own customs. It could be something as simple as removing your shoes outside a temple or covering your head in a mosque. During my travels to some of the regions, even within my own country, some customs have left me amazed. And each region comes with its own customs, its own traditions. This year of travel, I vow to be more understanding about customs and understand the sentiments of the locals behind those customs – no matter how irrelevant or annoying they may seem to me. They matter to a large local population and that deserves respect.
6. Be Social – Not Over Social Media
I am a solo traveller because I am not a social person. I do not enjoy the company of people. However, during my travels, I have interacted with people who have gone on to become good friends. Sure, we do not share notes daily or even weekly – but I know that we ever cross paths again, we shall go all out to help each other. Travel is being social in the true sense – meeting new people, understanding their lives, enjoying moments together… It’s not about check-ins and likes or comments. It’s about numbers exchanged and memories cherished.
We’re all addicted to gadgets. But I have a simple rule when I travel. No internet. I still remember when I landed in Seychelles and stood at the C&W Mobile kiosk, the operator gave me 2 plans – one with internet and one without. I opted for the one without and he asked me twice if I was sure. Why is it so surprising to choose to go without internet? Yes, I have gotten lost in a strange land (Turkey), missed my train because I goofed up AM/PM (New Delhi), and much more – and I managed absolutely fine without internet. Disconnecting and enjoying the region is much better and even more fun. Many times it also gives you a chance to ask around and you might uncover more hidden gems than the internet could’ve ever showed you.
8. Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning is really important during travels. Yes, plans go wrong and things change at the last minute but having a plan ensures you have a rough idea of what you want to do and where you want to head. Also, planning can come handy when you’re in a fix and if you’ve done your research, it might just help you get out. Sure, impromptu trips are fun and fine but reading up a little about the place also helps understand the culture and helps some dos and don’ts. Being a planner, this one resolution is sure to remain unbroken even if the others (especially Point 7 *wink wink*) are!
9. Have A Backup
If Plan A fails, what then? On a recent visit to Bhuj, I gaily sat squashed through an hour long shared auto-ride to Bhujodi, walked a km and half in the boiling sun only to discover the museum and the garden are shut on Mondays! I was not prepared for that and then, I had to rely on Plan B – shopping in the market which I had saved for Tuesday and revisiting the place on Monday. When you have Backups or things to juggle around, it helps take the edge off some of the disappointments. So yes, a backup is essential and this year I promise to have a backup for all plans! To start off, I have 3 back-ups for my April trip (though at this stage all look like they shall fail, sigh).
10. Embrace Slow Travel
Slow travel is when it is not all about ticking off a country off the list. I have always liked to take things slow. Over 10 days in Seychelles – earned me quite a few eyebrow raises, a week-long trip to Pondicherry, Hill Stations of Goa… All of these have been trips that I have taken to not just explore the best sights – but rather, to enjoy the place fully. Yes, sure, I visited the key sights but then I also made a pint to check out some local favourites, some places that tourists tend to skip. And I resolve to continue the trend this New Year!
11. Challenge Myself
Despite multiple solo trips, battling adversities, the moment the airplane takes off, I am nervous once again. There are a million things I’ve said no to – because I was afraid. This year, I wish to make it more of a challenge for myself, to battle my fears and try and enjoy beating the old enemy! Here’s to a whole new year of travel! A whole new year of memories. Here’s to 2019!