If experience has taught us anything, it’s that bad habits are hard to break and most diets and fitness plans don’t last into February ... but our wanderlust is here to stay.

These resolutions are not only achievable – they’re a joy to keep. So take your pick and make 2020 your best year of travel yet.

A woman sits at the front of a boat with her legs up as the sea breeze blows through her hair. Beside her are two small book bags and two larger duffle bags.
Dropping your bags in a new destination is a great feeling – especially when they weigh as much as you do © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

1. Pack lighter

Next time you’re stuffing a pair of impractical shoes and a bumper-size shampoo into your bag, stop to consider the feelings of future you: the one sporting a sweaty back patch and a face riddled with regret. The "I’ll manage" attitude dissipates in a flurry of expletives as you drag your luggage up a broken escalator, straining your bicep and stubbing a toe in the process. Worth it? Not so much.

Stick to it: Downsize: restricting suitcase volume soon hinders overpackers. Prioritise: it’s OK to take three paperbacks if you’re willing to forgo the laptop. Enlist a ruthless packing buddy who won’t give in to the words "but I neeeeeed it!".

A man squats on a green hill taking photos of ice capped mountains in the distance.
Beautiful destinations don’t always equal beautiful pictures … but it helps © Jeff Schultz / Getty Images

2. Take better pictures

Sick of returning home from a trip with thousands of hastily snapped images that you’ll never have the time to sift through and edit, let alone share? Whether you’re shooting for social media, an online portfolio or the family album, investing a little time and effort can take your creations from amateur to incredible.

Stick to it: Read up on how to take a decent smartphone snap; enrol in a photography course; join a photographer’s meetup while you’re on the road; or take a tour that combines travel and education.

Related article: Photography tips for smartphone snappers 

A man sitting on a wooden bench next to a tree watches an elephant drinking water from a large watering hole
‘I so regret going on that safari’ said no one ever © Buena Vista Images / Getty Images

3. Stop putting it off

Family, finances, your career ...  even fear. There are plenty of factors that prevent people from travelling – but when valid reasons become comfortable alternatives to taking a risk, it’s time for a reality check. You have one life on this planet. Stop making excuses and start making plans.

Stick to it: Whether you long for a round-the-world extravaganza or simply a weekend away, it’s not going to land on your lap. Identify your true barriers to travel and tackle them head on. Strapped for cash? Start saving. Option paralysis? Consult the experts. Worried what your boss will think? Propose a trip that will boost your résumé.

Related article: Best places to visit in 2020

A woman wearing a bright red backpack stands on top of a fallen tree branch in the middle of a verdant green forest
Lack of phone signal can be liberating on your travels © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

4. Learn to unplug

See it, share it. Try it, tweet it. The impulse to reach for your smartphone can be near impossible to resist, even on the road – but just as technology seems to have rewired our brains to crave constant connection, travel can be the ultimate antidote.

Stick to it: Can’t go cold turkey? Minimise distractions by deleting email apps and disabling social media notifications. Rediscover the joy of writing postcards. Keep a travel journal. Go for a walk without the safety net of Google Maps… and see where you end up.

A large humpback whale breaches from the ocean. Snow-covered mountains can be seen in the background.
Do your bit to protect creatures like this © Betty Wiley / Getty Images

5. Travel responsibly

As global tourist numbers continue to increase (1.4 billion international arrivals recorded in 2018 and counting, according to the UN), understanding the impact our travel choices have on the planet has never been more important. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to go green.

Stick to it: You know the drill: steer clear of plastic bottles; take public and overland transport where possible; choose ethical tour operators who respect wildlife and give back to local communities; reduce or offset your carbon emissions (calculate your footprint at carbonindependent.org).

Related article: How to ditch the plastic water bottle 

A woman wearing a bathing suit stands on the shore of a beach looking at large green-covered rocks coming out of the ocean water
You don’t need to travel far to recharge … but it helps © Massimo Colombo / Getty Images

6. Use your time off wisely

It’s easy to fritter away precious paid leave on family events and close-to-home happenings, leaving little time for escapism. But this makes it tough to return to work feeling refreshed – and worse still, you’re no closer to seeing the world than you were last year.

Stick to it: Make no mistake: you earned your days off, so take them – every last one. Plan in advance; if you prefer regular short trips, get them booked in early. Capitalise on national holidays, adding a day or two either side for extra-long breaks. Alternatively, have that chat with your manager about using your leave in bulk for that three-week trip to Southeast Asia.

A woman poses for a photo with a trio of Huli Wigmen in the Tari region.
Chances are you’ll fascinate the locals as much as they fascinate you © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet

7. Engage with the locals

The dream: gaining true insight into "real" local culture. The reality: befriending an international crew of fellow travellers on Facebook and coming home with an "authentic’ souvenir made in China.

Stick to it: Let’s face it: it can take years to unravel the complexities of foreign cultures. But there are ways to increase your chances of having a meaningful encounter. Brush up on your language skills; you’d be surprised how far "hello", "please" and "thank you" can take you. With the sharing economy showing no signs of slowing down, it’s easier than ever to find homestays, cooking classes and local tour guides.

A couple examine fruit at a stall
Durian: how bad can it be? Try it to find out! © Jim Purdum / Getty Images

8. Get out of your comfort zone

Travel is a simple yet effective way to shake up your status quo – but even seasoned adventurers can get stuck in a rut.

Stick to it: Make this year the year you mix up your travel style. Too shy to go solo? Dare to go it alone, or join a group tour for ready-made companions. Over planner? Tear up the itinerary and see what happens when you wing it. Stick to the mantra: "say yes more".

A busy cobbled stone street in Centre Place in Melbourne filled with people walking or sitting outside a shop
You'll be surprised what you find on your own doorstep © David Hill / Getty Images

9. Explore your own backyard

More confident sharing tips on the best restaurants in Bangkok or Bilbao than your nearest city? So often seduced by the lure of faraway places, we travel addicts often lose sight of the gems right under our noses.

Stick to it: Buy a guidebook to your local area to see your ‘hood from a visitor’s perspective, including the touristy attractions you’ve never made time for. Try out that new cafe or bar that you often overlook in favour of reliable old haunts. Heck, you could even start a blog about your area.

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First published in December 2016. Updated November 2019. 

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