Let 2021 be the year to set realistic travel goals
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Washington - We've finally reached the end of a year of cancelled plans. With the coronavirus vaccine starting to roll out, travellers are getting excited about making plans again, so much so that travel companies and organisations are seeing an uptick in late 2021 bookings.
You don't have to pull the trigger on booking a trip just yet to start feeling hopeful for 2021. A travel New Year's resolution can help with that.
Thomas G. Plante, a psychologist and professor at Santa Clara and Stanford universities, says that after the "mental health tsunami" that was 2020, we need hope more than ever, and setting goals can provide just that.
"New Year's resolutions historically have had to do with diet, exercise and weight loss, stop drinking, those kinds of health habits," Plante says. "This year might be different given the pandemic. When it comes to travel, people who like to travel have been grounded for almost a year now, and it makes a lot of sense for people to have some specific goals around travel."
However, it's possible to do more harm than good when making New Year's resolutions.
"Realistically, it's going to take a while to get everybody vaccinated," Plante says. "It's great for people to have travel expectations and hopes, it's just that we've got to be thoughtful and realistic so they're not terribly disappointed."
Instead of thinking, "I'm going to visit 12 countries in 2021," a more realistic resolution may have to do with how you're going to travel in 2021. Do you want to see more art? Tackle more physical challenges? Live more in the moment?
Plante says travellers can think of resolutions like using a map for a road trip. If you don't have a goal and a direction, you may get lost along the way. What travel did you dream about during the pandemic? What do you miss about travel that you'd like to experience next year?
To help you get your brainstorming going, we asked avid travellers, many of whom are writers, to share their 2021 travel resolutions. Here are some examples as you reflect on your own travel goals.
Stacey Leasca, travel journalist and journalism professor
My travel resolution is to stay up late no matter where in the world I am. I have a deep love of waking up early to see the sunrise in every new spot I see but always wind up asleep far too early. I want to see the way each spot spends its mornings, noons and well into the night. I'm so ready to experience it all.
I look forward to also thanking every TSA agent from now on, and rather than get flustered, assist my fellow passengers who don't understand that yes, you do need to take your shoes off and laptops out.
Erik Cooper, founder of Erik Cooper Adventures
Guiding adventures leads me to some of the world's most remote locations from Mongolia to Patagonia; my lifestyle is one that's always on the move, it's been a tough year having to stay put. Covid-19 and the restrictions it's brought has made me make a resolution to dig even deeper once the pandemic is over.
The freedom to travel really is something special, and once it's back I'm not going to take it for granted. I'm going to focus my energy on creating more intimate experiences and spending more time soaking in the nuances that make them memorable.
Ben Pundole, founder of A Hotel Life
If there's one thing I'll be taking with me, in what I can only hope will be the beginning of the roaring '20s when taking to the skies is patience. Lives have been lost, jobs have been lost, homes will be lost and the sanity of humanity is questionable. Everybody is going through something that we know nothing about. This should be remembered every step of the way, from the ride to the airport, the lines at check-in and security, and the disembarking from the flight.
This I would like to highlight: Be patient, have some compassion and use your grown up thoughts before dashing off the plane before your row is called. You don't know what your neighbour in 34D is going through. You don't know what type of anxiety your "uptown" neighbour in 2B could be battling. Travel, especially in a post-coronavirus world, will be a luxury. A little kindness will go a long way.
Benjamin Liong Setiawan, lifestyle writer
I'm not sure what 2021 will bring, none of us are really, but I'm certain my first flight back in the saddle will be an emotional one. My resolutions for 2021 involve some destinations, but also some mind-set adjustments.
I had a trip scheduled with friends to eat our way through Japan last April. If things go well with the vaccine distribution, maybe we'll be able to plan for some time in the second half of the new year. My family has been talking about going on a holiday to Hawaii for years and the hope is to say Mele Kalikimaka with them on the islands in December.
On the mind-set side, I hope to be more cognizant of the great cost it takes to travel the world. The impact on the environment and our bodies is immense. In the "Great Before" I was so concerned about chasing miles and earning the top status that I would nonchalantly crisscross oceans just to attain or maintain that status. I will be trying to find ways to be more responsible and maximize future trips by spending more time in a given region, discovering what other stories can be uncovered while I'm there.
Samantha Brown, travel expert and TV host
Just about all my travel is for work, and therefore I already have plans in place to travel a lot in 2021.
My resolution this year, however, is that I bring my kids with me as much as possible. I realized during the pandemic how important my kids' travel memories have been and how they've actually sustained us as we navigated through this emotionally difficult year without school, friends and family. So it's not just the experience of travel itself but building up that reserve of wonderful experiences to always strengthen us.
Bill Ezparza, James Beard award-winning author
I wouldn't consider myself jaded about travel, but this halt to my travel routine that has been nonstop since I was around 22 has given me time to reflect.
I'm not going to hesitate when that quick side-trip comes up, and I'm going to be more in the moment when dining or sightseeing. I miss the spontaneous discovery and joy that comes from travel. My resolution for when travel returns is to focus on the many delights I'm privileged to savour.
Next time I'm in São Paulo, I'm going to fly to Curitiba just to dine at Manu, and I won't even spend a moment worrying about the inconvenience, or logistics. No more taking anything for granted.
Marianna Jamadi, travel photographer
My travel resolution is to support more local entrepreneurs in the destinations I am visiting. This year has really taught us that small businesses need support to survive and are also the heart of many communities. As a freelancer myself, I look forward to putting my money into the local markets that feed a community, artisans that create beauty in the world, and other creatives that celebrate innovation.
Kim Haas, travel TV producer and host
This year is an unforgettable reminder that we are all connected, and in seen and unseen ways, we rise and fall together. So, I pledge to be an exceptional traveller. I will travel with a spirit of enchantment and wonder, with my eyes wide open, my heart and soul focused on discovering more and more about the African Diaspora. For me, this means amplifying awareness and heightening my devotion to sharing the brilliance, genius, talent, resiliency and humanity of African descendants, wherever I travel.
Konrad Waliszewski, CEO and co-founder of TripScout
I will stop letting life and work get in the way of my next trip. I took for granted that travel would always be there for me. I assumed that there would always be a flight tomorrow and an open border waiting. I'm now reminded how much of a lucky privilege that was and how quickly it can be taken away.
Post-pandemic, I feel like I have a second chance with one of my true loves and I won't take it for granted. Last-minute flight deal in my inbox? Booked. Hotels are too expensive on those dates? Oh well, I will figure it out. Work is too busy? I will work from a cafe there. I will not put the trip off to next month.
Once I depart, I will travel slower. I will do less, but go deeper. And most importantly, I will savor every single physical human interaction. Seriously, I will probably hug to the first tourist-hustler who tries to scam me.
Celine Bossart, wine, spirits, and travel writer
Once it's safe to travel again, I envision myself prioritizing my comfort and mental health more than I have in the past, even in the smallest ways. I used to travel like a maniac, almost exclusively for work purposes, sacrificing things like sleep or nourishment and finding myself in a constant state of stress and anxiety.
I want to give myself enough time between trips to recover, reset and spend time with the people I love. I think that if I'm able to strike more of a balance between home life and life on the road, I'll be able to make the most out of both.
Mickela Mallozzi, travel TV producer and host
As a professional traveller and travel TV host, I usually have a limited amount of time in each destination I visit. If my crew and I have a five-day shoot in a destination, we're usually filming 10 to 13 hour days with little to no sleep, and definitely no downtime to enjoy the destination more slowly.
I've always said I should do this, but now I will definitely implement this going forward. Therefore, my 2021 travel resolution (and beyond) is to take my time with travel by spending a little more time in the destination and allowing myself to tack on at least one full day to explore the place without a camera. And I think this can translate for all travellers. You don't need to jampack your travels or your itinerary. Take a breath and take your time to travel slowly within that destination.