Determined to make some travel resolutions that stick? According to life coach and best-selling author Penny Zenker, relying too much on willpower to force a change in behaviour doesn't work. With that in mind, it might be time to ask yourself why you haven’t booked that once-in-a-lifetime trip or why you can’t become a deal-savvy booker. Whatever your goals, these ideas will help you up the ante on your travel plans for 2020. 

A man in a red T-shirt is sitting in the open door of a bright blue VW campervan reading. The can is parked on grassy terrain beside a beautiful lake lined with green trees.
You owe it to yourself to stick to your travel resolutions this year © Justin Foulkes / Lonely Planet

Try something adventurous 

There's nothing wrong with lying horizontal on a beach, but predictable vacations are so, well, predictable. Let's face it, if high-octane adventures weren’t a little terrifying, they wouldn’t be adventures. “We underestimate the power of the change in environment,” says Zenker. “The bigger the change, the greater the recharge. When we try new, exciting things it changes our perspectives and this, in turn, can make us more productive.”

Adventure is as much a state of mind as it is an activity: it’s about saying "yes" before stepping into the unknown; "yes" to that half marathon through the ruins of Cambodia; "yes" to shark swimming in Australia; and, if you can stomach it, "yes" to that fermented fish delicacy in Sweden.  

Not having an iron-clad itinerary will help you explore © Shutterstock

Less planning, more spontaneity

Planning is a prerequisite for any travel, but a tightly scheduled trip leaves little room for spontaneity, which often leads us to uncover the most memorable places. Leave the phone in your pocket and be ready to modify your plans if something piques your interest.

Take the dog-leg off your planned road trip; ditch the dinner reservation in favour of a local spot with a crowd; or take a turn down a side alley – what’s the worst that could happen? You may lose a few minutes but that's what holidays are all about: appreciating the beauty of the unexpected.

Learn to unplug

Does the mere idea of cutting the digital cord give you palpitations? Consider prising that phone from your steely grip for just one day and enjoy the way travel can disconnect us, in a good way.

“Holidays are supposed to be the time to relax,” says Lena Waizenegger, co-author of a study that examined the effect of gadget-free holidays on travellers. “While instantaneous access to information like maps makes it easier to travel, we are missing out on chatting with locals or those hidden gems that aren’t advertised.” The study revealed that disconnecting from the virtual world helped travellers reconnect with the people and nature around them. You can always #latergram your holiday snaps.

A group of women are cooking up a feast in a homestay. There are many woks on a stove, and behind them there's lots of cookware hanging from the wall, and sitting on a counter.
Staying in accommodation owned and run by locals is a more sustainable choice © Mark Read / Lonely Planet

Be more sustainable

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the responsibility of sustainability rests on all of our shoulders, and it’s not just about our carbon footprint or the environmental impact of our trip.

“The biggest misconception about sustainable travel is that it’s more expensive,” says Mac Gaughan, owner of Australian ethical travel company Clean Travel. “Travel should strengthen the community around it, and by buying local produce, staying in hotels owned by locals and travelling with local organisations, you are cutting out the international middle-men.”

Avoiding flying is often not an option but, where possible, take a train and travel with the mantra of  "leave no trace". In a nutshell, it’s really about being a responsible traveller. 

Go domestic

Stumped when asked to recommend destinations on your own doorstep? Most of us tend to turn to our bucket list when it comes to travel goals, often losing sight of the incredible destinations right under our noses.

A staycation can make your home feel like a new destination, says Stefan Artesis, one half of seasoned travel vloggers The Nomadic Boys. “You always underestimate what’s in your own back garden. It wasn’t until we came back from a big trip with the attitude of a traveller that we saw our home in a new way and set out to explore it.” 

Journal every trip

When a few Instagram posts just won’t cut it, and you can't be bothered to upload all your photos to Facebook, consider a travel journal. Taking the analogue approach can be a great way to log your travel memories, but if the idea of carrying a notepad to jot everything down makes you groan, there’s a host of digital journal apps that will collate everything for you, including Lonely Planet Trips. “Journaling is a fantastic way to gain great insights into your trip,” notes Stefan Artesis. “Just remember to lift your head every now and again and enjoy the moment.” 

Items including boots, a hat, a belt, a thermos and a camera are laid out neatly on a wooden floor, ready to be packed.
Knowing what you'll find most useful when you're on the road is a learning process © Pinkyone / Shutterstock

Travel lighter

It’s basic science: the bigger the suitcase the more you’ll squeeze into it – and the heftier the baggage charge. Even seasoned travellers sometimes make the mistake of including ‘just-incase-I-need-it’ items. But are they really essentials? And have you spared a thought for your ‘destination self’ who will be sweating their way through airports, train stations and cities with oversized luggage? A few rules of thumb: if you cherish it leave it at home; fill every space (footwear can be stuffed with socks); and edit ruthlessly. 

Snag those early flight deals

According to Misty Belles, Managing Director, Global Public Relations at travel network Virtuoso, it’s not about when you book but when you travel. “The least expensive travel days are Tuesdays and Saturdays, while the most expensive days are Fridays, followed by Sundays and Mondays. Any time you’re competing with business travellers, the fares are going to be higher.”

To save a little, she recommends adding a layover. “Connecting flights are often less expensive than direct, and while no one relishes more airport time, taking a later flight at a less desirable time can save a bundle.” 

Maximise long weekends

Lots of travellers are ditching the traditional two-week holiday in favour of shorter, more frequent breaks. What matters is not how long you go for but how you spend the time when you're there. And think of the benefits: time away is like a punctuation point which, in frequent doses, can be better for us than one long break. Packing is usually simpler, and you’re more likely to find someone to feed the cat for the weekend as opposed to a week.

To really maximise your short break, Belles suggests shifting your dates. “By switching from the traditional favourite of Friday to Sunday, to Saturday to Monday, travellers can see hotel savings that range from 5–25%, depending on the city.” 

A woman is walking away from the camera, across a rickety bridge in a rainforest. A river runs over a rocky riverbed below.
Travelling solo can give you unrivalled freedom and a unique perspective © Don Mammoser / Shutterstock

Take a solo trip

Gone are the days when requesting a table for one elicited condescending head tilts from waiters. Nowadays, solo travel has a new cachet, born from a growing desire for independence, regardless of whether you’re coupled or single. There's need to worry what your partner will think if your ideal day is spent lolling poolside; you get the freedom to choose.

Although often travelling á deux, the Nomadic Boys admit that their time together is often enhanced by travelling alone. And, according to a recent survey by Mintel, it’s adventure and something unique that you solo trippers want: learning a new language, sailing down the Amazon, hiking the Scottish Highlands or a silent retreat in Bali, where quite frankly, two’s a crowd. 

You might also like:

Sustainable travel: 6 ways to make a positive impact on your next trip
How to pack like a pro for a backpacking trip
Why you should travel solo while in a relationship

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