I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. For me, I know that I’m rarely able to make big, sudden changes become a part of my day-to-day life, and that if I see something I’d like to do or change I should start now rather than wait for January 1st.
But I’m also ridiculously bad at setting goals ahead of time, and recently I’ve had some time to look back at the past several months and realize that while a lot of amazing stuff happened, it wasn’t always on purpose and there were probably opportunities that I let pass by because I wasn’t paying attention.
To me, “goal” is a singular tangible thing, something you reach and then kind of stop…that’s probably not entirely true or accurate, but it’s a weird distinction in my head. And I’m making the rules here. SO, I’m going with intentions, and this year I’m trying to set a few of them. Yes, it’s almost February, so sue me. That’s actually kind of the point. Time flies by, stuff happens, and then it’s December again. Which brings me to my first intention.
1. Be more present/mindful
Sometimes I swear that I wander around in a fugue state, particularly in social situations. While I’m experiencing something I may be having a blast, but when I try to recall conversations or specific details later it’s all a blur. And when traveling, I’m usually trying to capture amazing pictures from every angle, and my mind is often racing ahead to the next thing we’re doing, next train we need to catch.
I’m making a concerted effort to stay in the moment when I travel. Capture not just photographs, but mental snapshots. Notice little details, smells, cute elderly men, brightly painted doors, ancient stonework, and hot younger men. Sit and have coffee for a while and just BE.
2. Do a better job journaling in richer detail
I’ve kept a handwritten journal since I was a little kid, but I absolutely hate it. I wish I could like…download my thoughts directly into a journal without doing any work? Is that a thing yet?? Science, where ya at?
But when I’m traveling is the one time I still try really hard to be consistent at journaling. I love being able to go back and read entries from years ago about a silly comment my dad made at a beer hall in Germany (that I recapped here). I don’t love going back and reading about my afternoon ziplining in Costa Rica a couple years ago and literally the only thing I wrote in my journal was, “And this afternoon we went ziplining, it was fun!” SERIOUSLY. So, details. It’s all about details.
3. Visit Asia for the first time
Yes, I technically set foot on the continent while spending time in Istanbul last year, but let’s be honest—that doesn’t really count. And yes, this is an actual “goal” that can be met, but just go with me here.
I say this is an intention because I want it to guide my decision-making over the course of the year. There are so many amazing flight deals out there right now, but I know my default setting is to keep booking flights to all corners of Europe because I LOVE Europe. So I need my intention to guide my hand so that I choose the more challenging option to, say, Kuala Lumpur instead of Amsterdam.
4. Earn airline loyalty
I know this is a very #firstworldproblems kind of thing, and if I don’t get there it’s definitely not the end of the world. I qualify this more in the intention space and not just a goal because I’m not going to do anything crazy or drastic. I just want to be more conscious of how my points get assigned, some of my work travel decisions and how they can help me get there, and overall just making sure I’m maximizing the potential of my current spending and travel.
I’ve traveled a few times with @FareWhispers in the past year, who is United Platinum level, and it’s been eye-opening to see the value that status can bring—in perks, in service, in comfort, and in helping to fix things when travel goes awry (which it always does at some point). Lounge life FTW!
5. Write down something amazing/happy/great/positive EVERY WEEK
Attitude of gratitude is the mantra for 2017. I’ve been going through some challenging things the last several months (not travel-related, in fact my travel was the main bright spot of 2016). But my general mindset has been mired in a lot of negativity and I’m really frustrated by it—it saps my energy and makes life much less enjoyable.
I saw this on Facebook and it stuck with me. Theoretically you’re supposed to write it on a piece of paper and put them in a jar, but I’m going a more digital route and just keeping a perpetual email draft with me (which is easier to look at when I’m having a bad day somewhere else). Sometimes it’s a big thing like a major work accomplishment or my first time dog sledding, and other times just a small compliment someone gave me. But this is a way to keep me more focused on all the amazing things in my life—which are many!
6. Visit one new national park in the U.S.
Again, this is a bit of a goal-like cheat. But like many travel nuts, I do a terrible job of exploring my own country. America is so blessed with diverse geography and cool cities, so I’m trying really hard to make sure I expand my experience with the National Parks Service this year. I’ve been to Yellowstone and the Tetons a few times and…that’s about it. That’s shameful.
Some places that are at the top of my list? Bryce Canyon, Mt. Zion and Angel’s Landing , the Grand Canyon, and Crater Lake. I also want to finally get out to Portland and spend some time there and the Willamette Valley. Score one for domestic tourism…
What are your travel intentions for 2017? I’d love to hear other ideas that can make our lives richer in the coming months!