In 2015, 'volunteerism' and 'giving back' will be firmly out, but there’s a new breed of travel that's in. One that says we can travel well, and travel right. Choosing this type of travel experience has more benefits than I can list, but at a time of year when we're all counting up the ways we'd like to be 'better' next year, it offers an all-round solution. Whether your new year’s resolution is to meet new people, budget better, get fitter, see something new, challenge yourself (emotionally, socially or physically), help others, or just to be more adventurous, then read on – we have a fool proof plan for helping you stick to it.
First, a few tips that can help make any resolution stick:
1. Make it achievable - If you haven't been in the gym for 10ys, is it likely you'll climb Kilimanjaro in 2015? Perhaps, but it's more realistic to set yourself a goal that will still challenge you, but won't feel insurmountable, like walking the Inca Trail.
Likewise, setting too many goals will make it much more difficult to succeed. Rising to a personal challenge is hard enough, without having to split your focus five ways. And deprivation is tough. It will be extremely hard to budget better, get fitter and meet new people all at the same time. Unless of course you choose one experience that can help you achieve all three. Oh, perhaps not impossible after all…
2. Write it down - Start planning immediately and make a record of it. You’ll need to decide what your over-arching goal is, and then chose an experience that will help you achieve it. Decide where would you like to go, and when is best to travel there, then work backwards. How long do you have to get ready? When should you book?
Put all these dates into a calendar and set reminders so you have milestones to work towards. If you’re unsure about where or when to go, then get some help. Talk to travel experts who can help you design a trip to help you achieve all your goals, within your budget and timeframe.
3. Create a budget - This is all the easier if you've picked a trip with most of the costs included, because there will be less unknown to plan for. Once you've worked out how much you'll need, break it down and work backwards. When is the final balance due, when will you be able to afford the deposit, and how soon can you secure flights?
4. Tell people about it - As soon as you've set your heart on the adventure for you, make sure people know about it. This has a two-fold benefit - first, you’re much less likely to give in and book that fortnight in Marbella you're more comfortable with, and second, you'll be helping to spread the word about a good cause.
5. Seize the day - If you have a goal in mind, put it into action on day one. Whether that is actually booking your seat, or simply announcing on social media what you’re planning to do. The earlier you commit, the more likely you are to follow through. And that’s the real upside of these types of resolutions - it’s not about what you won’t do this year. It’s not about doing without, giving up or compromising. It’s about action, change and positive momentum. So get the ball rolling and make that enquiry, tell your Facebook family and buy that guidebook!
Now you've got your resolve nailed down, here are some specific guidelines for bringing some of the most popular resolutions to life.
RESOLUTION - Get fitter. Choose a goal to work towards – perhaps it will be cycling across Southern India, or taking on the three peaks challenge in the UK. Whatever it is, and however physically demanding I suggest joining a local gym that offers free introductory personal trainer sessions. If you can discuss your goal with a professional, they will be able to help you design a programme that will help you reach it in time, whilst taking account of your current fitness.
RESOLUTION - Help others. There are many ways to help others, many charitable, and some questionable. The real secret to using your resolution to best effect is getting to know the people you want to help. It's only by spending time with them that you'll truly understand what they need. It's a common misconception that money is always the answer. Of course it will normally help, but your energy, skills and friendship are often just as valuable. Take the time initially to understand the difficulties faced by the people you are visiting. Then decide how you can help.
RESOLUTION – Meet new people. It’s widely acknowledged that travelling on your own is an excellent way to meet new people. Travelling with friends is comfortable and easy, but how often do you strike up a conversation with new people that you cross paths with? Having said that, solo travel solo can be daunting for even the most adventurous amongst us. So what’s the compromise? Small group travel allows the best of both worlds – independence from all of the things that keep you locked up inside your comfort bubble, but exposure to a wide variety of different people all sharing one incredible experience. Will you become best friends with everybody? Maybe not. But I’ll eat my well-travelled flip-flops if you don’t come home with at least a couple of new friends you’ll keep in touch with for life.
RESOLUTION – Be more adventurous. What makes this resolution so great? It’s all about you. Adventure is entirely individual, and the trick to becoming more adventurous is first reflecting on who you are right now. For some people, adventure would be coming face to face with an Orang-utan family in Borneo. For others it would be running a marathon in Uganda.
Understanding what adventure looks like to you is crucial. Don’t say you’ll throw yourself out of a plane, if what would actually feel adventurous (rather than ridiculous) to you is seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland. Adventure is personal, so as long as it gets your heart thumping you can consider it a success.
Whatever it is you want to achieve, it’s more often than not your own mind that will stand in your way. How many years will you have made yourself these promises, only to get caught back up in the humdrum of daily life? The truth of the matter is, the only person who can make it happen is you. And where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? So put your best foot forward, grab the bull by the horns, and chant whatever other clichéd mantra’s will make this the year you do it. Just make sure you do it.
Inspired Escapes are curators of adventure travel experiences that change lives; both for the traveller, and the local people they visit. Whether you want adrenalin-fuelled excitement, or to become one with the wild, every Inspired Escape is designed to put you at the heart of the local community that you are visiting by giving you quality time with local people. To find out more visit www.inspiredescapes.com, or download our eBook here: "Adventure Less Ordinary"