The traveler’s guide to realistic New Year’s resolutions for 2019

With the #NewYear approaching, have you got your travel resolutions down pat? Source: Shutterstock.

THE new year is upon us and this means it is time to make new travel resolutions and goals.

Depending on what you are aiming to achieve this year, your new year’s resolution can be either grandiose or realistic. Are you planning on taking a sabbatical to travel the world? Will you finally be checking those adrenaline-inducing activities (such as skydiving in Australia or caving in Malaysia) off your travel bucket list?

Or should you be going back to the basics and simply aim to be a better, perhaps more responsible traveler?

Here are some easy tips to improve the way you travel in the coming year.

Don’t leave things until the last minute

When traveling or planning for a trip, getting things done on time (aside from booking flights and accommodation ahead) should be your utmost priority.

First, ensure you have all the paperwork needed such as a valid passport and an approved visa. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip so be sure to get it renewed on time to avoid difficulties.

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Also, some countries in the Asia-Pacific require a prior approved visa while others offer visa on arrival. If you are planning to travel through various destinations in the Asia-Pacific, you will need to take note of the requirements before you leave home. Read up before actually heading there.

This is where a detailed itinerary will also come in handy.

As much as being spontaneous during your travel will inject just the right amount of fun and “free spirit,” being on time for your flight, bus, or any other chosen mode of transportation is important as well. So have that jotted down on your itinerary alongside preparing the travel documents you will need for each country.

Pack right

Overpacking is truly the bane of every traveler’s existence. It is by far one of the biggest mistakes a traveler can make, especially if you are planning on a trip that is longer than two weeks because you will have to lug all that extra weight around.

One easy way to get around this predicament is to not pack to your luggage’s full capacity. This is because you will undoubtedly make new purchases while on a trip.

If you are unsure of what to bring and what to leave at home, pack in phases over time. Gradually put in and take out whatever you think you may need or may not need. It is likely that you will end up with just the essentials.

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Knowing a little about your destination or accommodation will also ease this process. Will your Airbnb come with a washer and a dryer? Does it come with toiletries (so you can skip bringing salon-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner with you)? What will the weather be like on the days you are there?

Again, a little research will go a long way.

Use less plastic

Sustainability has been a major buzzword for the past year. Ask yourself, are you as eco-friendly as you are at home as when you travel?

There are many commonly overlooked things that you as a traveler can do to ensure that your trips are eco-friendly.

This includes packing reusable straws, chucking a foldable tote in your luggage so you can refuse plastic bags, packing a water bottle for easy everyday drinking, and even choosing to walk instead to offset your carbon footprint instead of renting a car.

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Make a conscious effort to help save the world while you discover its many nooks and crannies, and hidden gems.

Always be prepared

And we are not talking about just throwing a first-aid kit into your carry-on.

International medical coverage or insurance is absolutely essential when you travel. If you think about it, you will not travel without your passport or tickets, so why would you board a flight to somewhere halfway across the world without a proper health insurance plan?

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Picture being in a foreign land where you cannot speak the local language during a medical emergency. What would you do? At the very least, a recognizable international health insurance will be able to cover you.

And if you find yourself stranded somewhere hundreds of kilometers away from home in the event of a disaster that is beyond your control, the very same comprehensive plan will afford you an emergency evacuation via a helicopter transfer if need be.

No vacation is worth risking your life for. So, do you need health insurance to travel? Yes. Yes, you do.

Be in the moment

Sure, we cannot help getting sucked into the big black hole that is social media even during our travel, which has made it hard for us to truly be in the moment, especially when we are too busy “live updating” from our destination.

While social media is great for keeping our family and friends informed of our whereabouts while we travel so they will not worry about you, it has also taken the joy out of traveling.

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Platforms like Instagram has dulled our travel experiences and impaired our memory, and that is because we are never really there in the moment. But it is not too late to pull yourself out of the social media funk.

Before you jet off again, maybe invest in a camera and take pictures with it instead of your smartphone to minimize your activities on it.

Alternatively, use Instagram’s carousel slideshow photo album feature to post a compilation of your adventures later, perhaps at the end of a day. There is absolutely no harm in posting up #throwback content.