How many times have you broken a New Year’s resolution? If your answer is all the time, here’s one to try for 2015: Travel more.
Instead of shooting for the stars, or trying to right a habitual wrong, make a promise that you have every incentive to want to keep.
The below jet-setting guide contains feasible, affordable and do-able goals that are sure to skyrocket the quality of your year (and overall number of Instagram Likes).
Because, who doesn’t want to scratch off a once-in-a-lifetime destination, have an epiphany during a walkabout, or make a spur-of-the-moment decision that ends up being unforgettable? No one, that’s who.
Check a trip off your bucket list
Whether it’s conquering Machu Picchu or witnessing the spectacle that is the Northern Lights, chop your bucket list by one item. These dream trips are no joke: They require some heavy lifting before they can become a reality.
Start hoarding vacation days and putting aside paychecks so you have enough time and money saved up before the end of the year. There are a handful of apps that can easily help you manage and help to reach your goals, like iWish and Bucket List Pro.
Invest in chic luggage
Why does it feel so great to update your Facebook profile photo? Because sending a message to others that you look good, feels good. Like any other hobby, traveling is an extracurricular activity that begs for you to look the part, and owning must-have travel gear will motivate you to use it.
Explore your own city
No one is a tourist at home, so it’s common — and somewhat embarrassing — to have major, must-see sites in your own city that you have never actually set your eyes on. The next time a friend or family member comes to town, have yourself a tourist day and keep your secret safe by doubling as an educational host.
Once the mainstream attractions are out of the way, head off the beaten path for urban hidden gems. From an outdoor bike racing track in New York City to an abandoned Nazi camp in Los Angeles and a Technicolor church in Washington, D.C.’s arts district, reference Thrillist for city lists of creative things to do that you didn’t even know existed.
Travel with a close companion
You and your best friend aren’t getting any younger. If you’ve been brainstorming co-trip ideas for years, there’s no time like the present. From girlfriend getaways in Charleston and Miami to mancations in Las Vegas or Montreal, turn your best pal into a travel buddy.
After spending 24 hours together in uncharted waters, you might want to kill each other, you’ll certainly learn something new about one another, and no matter what, you’ll emerge with an even stronger bond.
Unplug for a week, or weekend
Leave your phone at home. In today’s day and age, everyone is so reliant on mobile and technological devices that a weeklong rejuvenating spa retreat might not be enough relaxation to steer you back to center.
“Digital detoxes” are leading the growing unplugging trend by stripping participants from any connection to the outside world, and that includes social media. When you quietly camp in Big Sur, watch real birds chirp in Chile and graduate from a Stress Release & Burnout class in Thailand, that vibrating urgency of your smartphone will be a distant need.
Set out on a road trip
A rocking playlist, a full tank of gas and the right passengers are the only components you need to have a successful road trip. Whether driving across the country or down the coast, hitting the pavement as the wind blows through your hair is a rite of passage that every American should experience at least once.
If anything goes wrong during your travels, it’s sure to make for one helluva story when you reminisce about the adventure. For bucket-list drives, here’s a list of 10 that take the tank.
Take a walking, hiking or biking tour
Active travel companies like Backroads, Butterfield & Robinson and National Geography offer guided excursions where you can truly take in the sights. The mantra of these groups is that by seeing less, you will see much, much more. The organized journeys take travelers across continents for an up-close-and-personal cultural adventure.
When you’re pedaling through the countryside of Tuscany, coming face-to-face with elephants during a Tanzania walking safari, or boarding a junk cruise through Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, you aren’t just seeing the locales, you’re living them.
Go to a new U.S. city
You don’t have to spend a fortune or hop continents to soak in a spectacular sight. Have you crossed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, earned a necklace made of beads in New Orleans, or skied down Aspen’s Colorado Rockies?
What about listening to the sound of Niagara Falls, kicking up pavement through Badlands National Park or waterskiing across Lake Tahoe? There’s no shortage of homegrown lore in the U.S., so go ahead and pick one.
Plan a solo trip
No matter where you go, do the research. Since traveling alone can up the risk ante, you can also hook up with groups of other solo travelers through communities like the Travel Buddies app, which gives users profiles and filters to find others with shared interests.
Brush up on a language you learned in school — and use it
It’s time to break out the foreign language textbook. If you learned Spanish or French in high school, college or while studying abroad, take a refresher course, and then travel somewhere that will have you using what you’ve re-learned in the field.
The best way to experience another culture is by immersing yourself in their ways and customs, but language isn’t exactly like riding a bike. Use Duolingo, which is a free app and website that will have you conjugating verbs again soon with their video game-like approach.
Check out a festival
From music to food and wine, there are enough festivals across the country to keep you busy for the entire year. For tunes, kick off the music circuit with Coachella in April, followed by Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza in the summer months, and then head down to Austin City Limits for the closing set in October.
On your nibbling and imbibing menu, the appetizer is the New Orleans Food & Wine Experience in May, the main meal is the Aspen Food and Wine Classic in June and for dessert, devour the savory treats at the NYC Wine & Food Festival in October.
Use all of your vacation days
Most people are guilty of telling a vacation-day white lie. This year, throw down the gauntlet and promise yourself that binge-watching, staycationing on the couch and being hung over in bed are no longer reasonable uses of this valuable time away from work.
Instead, vow to actually take advantage of the desk freedom and spend it the way it’s intended: outside. You’re sure to squeeze in an extra trip or two a year.
Book a last-minute trip
Lastminute.com is another one-stop shop where you can grab an entire travel package, including cars and hotels. Be flexible, impulsive and spontaneous, and the result will be you living a little.
-By Jackie Strause, Yahoo Travel