2015 is officially done and dusted and in slides January with its tenuous promises of a better you. People are buying gym memberships, contacting old friends and relatives and juicing vegetables. You hear the same people moaning about the same problems year after year and you can feel your brain turn to actual slush inside your skull as you nod and smile and reassure them that yes, of course they will find love this year and no, they definitely haven’t gained weight over Christmas. All the while you are wondering if your Christmas coin will stretch to cover a one-way ticket out of here. You are a backpacker. You aren’t going to spend your year kissing your boss’s ass for a promotion or revamping your tinder account with the hopes of finding the ‘one’. No. A new year means only one thing: a new adventure. So for all you intrepid backpackers who are looking to make some new year’s resolutions that are realistic and won’t make your friends want to stab your eyes out, here’s a little helping hand.
1. Stretch Yourself Linguistically
Make it your policy for 2016 to learn how to say a few useful words or sentences in the language of any countries you go to. This can be as as simple as “hello” and “thank you” or something a bit more complex like asking someone how their day has been or rordering a meal. You will be amazed how much more friendly locals become when they realise that you have actually put some effort in to learning and understanding some of their culture. You will also be able to differentiate yourself from all the other tourists who expect English to be spoken everywhere and just will keep speaking louder and slower until they are understood.
2. Give Something Back
Backpacking is inherently selfish and that’s fine. We want to see new things, try new foods and make ourselves better and more cultured people. However, what if in 2016 you challenged yourself to try and give something back where ever you went. This doesn’t mean build and run an orphanage or try and teach an entire village economics. Anything that benefits someone or something else counts. Buying a homeless person a meal; taking the time to listen to someone’s history or teaching a child how to count to ten are all valuable things that you can do to leave a trail of smiles where ever you go.
3. Just Say Yes
Always wanted to go travelling alone but were too scared? DO IT. Fancy checking out the Middle East but have been put off by the fear-mongering media? DO IT. Want to explore the world but worried about quitting your job? DO IT. Life is far, far too short to live your entire life within the narrow confines of your safety zone. The world is an incredible place and the more you experience and understand of it the more connected and fulfilled you will feel.
4. Document Your Travels
This doesn’t mean post more on Instagram. In ten years time you will still remember what you did while you were backpacking and if you don’t your copious photos will help. What I mean by document your travels is keep a record of not just what you did but what you felt. What did you learn while you were travelling? Who did you meet? Who inspired you? Was there anything you didn’t like about your travels? This will help you remember, in the future, exactly what it is about travelling that you love and value so much.
5. Be Happy
New Year’s resolutions don’t always have to be about changing yourself. Sometimes reminding yourself to be consistent is just as important. You know how happy backpacking makes you and you can’t help but fall in to a slump when you’re home. Coming to the end of your travels is inevitable (usually) so there’s no point in getting down about it. Turn your itchy feet in to something creative and try and see the positives of being settled in one place for a while. Use the time to self-reflect, earn some money and plan fun things. Don’t be the person your friends avoid because all you do is bitch about how much you miss travelling.