If Your New Year's Resolution Is To Travel More, Read This

Do you plan to travel more in the new year? Do you dream of visiting remote locations or simply exploring new places close to home? This might not be the best time to travel because of the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on us, but you shouldn't give up. Research your options, come up with a plan, and take proper precautions to stay safe and healthy. Also, don't be afraid to try new experiences, such as farm tours and equestrian vacations. "Being on a farm in summer gives people a sense of relief and calm they likely haven't felt in a while, and the open space feels like a safe zone," FARMstead ED founder Lynette Sonne told Smithsonian Magazine.

Hiking tours and biking vacations are growing in popularity, too, reports Forbes. These experiences allow tourists to step outside their comfort zone and try new things while maintaining social distance. Plus, it's a fantastic way to stay active and engage in some healthy competition. "Overall, bookings are up by 80% in 2022. Active travel remains our most popular category, with biking trips taking the lead," says Christine Wilson, marketing manager at Butterfield & Robinson (via Forbes).

Not sure where to start? If your new year's resolution in 2022 is to travel more, use these tips to make the most out of your vacation time. 

Take frequent, shorter vacations

While it can be tempting to book a two-week trip far away from home, according to Today, you'd be better off taking shorter trips more often. Traveling the world requires a lot of planning, potentially causing unnecessary stress. Chances are, you may feel tired and burned out by the time you arrive at your destination. A three-to-four-day trip, however, is easier to plan and less stressful overall. Plus, you can drive or take a short flight to your destination without having to plan things out weeks in advance. 

You may also find it easier to disconnect from work and relax when going on a shorter trip. "If you're away for 10 days, sometimes it can take people a few days to get out of the work mode and settle into vacation mode," said psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert in an interview with Today. "What I also find with a lot of my clients is that a day or two before the vacation is set to end, they start to get really stressed about going back to work," he added.

Dr. Albert also points out that planning shorter trips more frequently will save you time and money than traveling once a year. On top of that, you'll have something to look forward to every few months. Would you prefer to spend the entire year planning a long trip or take some time off whenever you feel like it? 

Travel more and spend less

COVID-19 has adversely affected the hospitality sector, causing huge revenue losses. A 2021 review published by Tourism Management Perspectives found the U.S. hotel industry's losses to be more than $30B between March and May 2020. So it's no surprise that most airlines and hotels have been charging higher rates. "The 'rightsizing' of supply and demand may take time, leading to higher pricing in the medium term," explains airline executive Paul Simmons (via the BBC).  Despite higher prices for accommodation and travel, you can always choose less expensive options and still have fun.

For example, you could seek cheaper alternatives to Airbnb and hotels. If you don't mind living like a local during your trips, try couch surfing or home sitting. Another option is to "sell" your skills in exchange for accommodation. Workaway, Worldpackers, and other online platforms connect locals with travelers looking for a place to stay. Depending on the host, you may need to help out around the house, care for their pets, or share your knowledge in IT, digital marketing, or other areas.

Break out of your comfort zone while traveling locally

Getting out of your comfort zone doesn't require long trips to exotic locations. You can travel locally and still have life-changing experiences or wild adventures. For example, consider booking a horseback riding vacation in the countryside. Some ranches also offer horse riding lessons — and that could be a fantastic learning experience. For starters, check out Equitours, Hidden Trails, and other travel agencies specialized in equestrian tours.

Depending on your preferences, you can also sign up for archery classes, flying lessons, golf lessons, or hiking tours. These activities would give you the chance to try new things and broaden your horizons without traveling outside the city or state. You would also have the opportunity to get outside, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Moreover, you'll get to see breathtaking landscapes and connect with your inner self.

"Being in outdoor green spaces can increase a person's motivation, too," notes research social scientist Michelle Kondo (via the U.S. Department of Agriculture). She also points out that spending time outdoors reduces stress levels, promotes mental wellness, and supports heart health. So whether you're into horse riding, farming, cycling, or hiking, go ahead and plan a memorable trip around your hobbies. Better yet, step out of your comfort zone and pick a new hobby — all while traveling close to home.