Along with my personal resolutions for 2012, I have a few travel resolutions I’d like to share. Let’s just hope these make it through the whole year!
- Earn my experiences: Most of my favorite travel memories are from the ones that took a little effort to make happen. I loved camping in Denali even though I froze while it was only 27 degrees out. I felt truly at peace at Montserrat when I found solitude by hiking a steep trail outside the monastery. Kayking in Elkhorn Slough worked up a sweat but got me incredibly close to seals that weren’t afraid of my tiny boat. And that beer in Munich tasted so much better because I had biked through the Englischer Garten ahead of time. I like to be active, and a little physical activity seems to make my day a little better, so I’d like to work a little of this in to every day that I’m traveling.
- Invest in quality gear: I travel enough now to want things that make my life easier. I’ve been making do with the things I have, but it’s time to start replacing things. I want a purse that has tons of compartments so I can find my passport and boarding pass quickly when transiting security. I want a suitcase that’s super lightweight, yet sturdy enough to hold up to some wear and tear. And I definitely want some good walking shoes that are a little bit cuter than a pair of sneakers.
- Learn how to use my camera: I bought a new camera right before our Germany trip this year when I found my old one was kaput, and I had no idea how to use it. I ended up with a lot of crappy photos. Thank goodness for digital cameras, since it meant I could try and try again until I got a decent shot, but it brought a lot of wasted time and frustration along with it. Worse yet? I still forgot to put some time into it before heading to Florida.
- Always bring my own GPS: Okay, I’ve made this mistake twice in eighteen months. We rented a GPS in Cancun, not wanting to buy maps for our own GPS since renting the unit was actually cheaper, and while we were there we had a heck of a time programming it and using it to find nearby points of interests. I can do those things in nanoseconds on my own Garmin, so we vowed never again. On our trip to Germany, we wisened up, buying a European map package and hauling the GPS with us and it worked like a charm. Then when I went to Florida, I fell into the same trap and used my sister’s GPS. This was a really poor decision, since I had assumed my sister would know how to use her own model, but didn’t. Next time, I’ll bring my own GPS again, no matter what the cost.
- Stop flying US Airways: I don’t mean to pick on an airline, but this falls into the same category of learning from my mistakes. I think I’ve had about two good flights on US Airways, but about fifteen bad ones. Regional jets from PHL always seem to be delayed (often by hours), and that’s my primary connection option with US Airways. “When you’ve got time to spare, fly US Air”. My time is worth something, so this year, I’ll pay up to get a better flight experience.
- Eat Less: I love to go out to eat, even at home, but especially while traveling. Menus always look so enticing, and trying local favorites gives me a thrill. This is all great, but frankly, I overstuff myself a lot on vacation or end up overpaying by only eating half my entree and never eating the leftovers. In 2012, I want to be smarter about this and wean myself down to two meals a day on vacation. If I’m still hungry, I’ll definitely get a snack, but there’s no reason that I need to eat out for three meals a day given the size of restaurant portions.
- Realize that I know my travel preferences best: I’ve made this mistake a couple of times now, and trusted other people to make recommendations for my vacations even when my gut tells me it’s not the best choice for me. While planning my California trip, I just wasn’t getting excited about San Francisco as a destination, but I included it anyway because everyone said not to miss it. I put two days in San Francisco on the itinerary, and when I was there, it still didn’t have my heart racing. That’s not to say the city isn’t worth a visit – just that it’s not the right place for every person. Next time, I’ll keep my travel plans to only include destinations and activities that sound wonderful to me…regardless of what friends, family, or guidebooks may say.
What are your travel resolutions for 2012?