I’ve bounced back and forth, trying to decide if I want to make any New Year’s Resolutions this year. I’m good at sticking to big, thematic goals. But I’m terrible at resolutions. Anything that demands that much perfection doesn’t work well for me.
So instead, here are the travel skills I want to work on throughout the year:
1. Using the Local Languages
I have taken seventeen years of foreign languages (Spanish, German, & Russian), and I can’t speak any. I’ve stopped letting any fear about languages KEEP me from traveling, but I’ve also gotten sloppy about even attempting them. English is pervasive, and combined with Google Translate and my iPhone, I haven’t yet been in a situation where not speaking the local language has caused me too many problems. And I certainly can’t learn every language I’ll meet in the world. But I should try harder to learn the basics before I get there, even if only to be polite to my host countries.
2. Enjoying More Nightlife
I find it really hard to stay out after 9pm. It’s rare that I go to a club or bar, even in countries where my friends might be out all night. Of course, when I do go out I have a blast. It’s the making myself actually go that is the hard part. I need to find more ways to make myself go (organized pub crawls, making friends blackmail me, etc).
3. Keeping in Touch with the People Back Home
I wrote a round of postcards in September. I mailed them in November. Bad girl. I do a lot of posting on social media, so I feel like people know what’s up with me. But that’s not the same thing as keeping in touch with people and keeping up with their lives. I need to work harder this year to make sure I’m staying in touch with the people I care about.
4. Practicing Astrophotography
You know those gorgeous photos of nature with all the stars in the background? I have the equipment to take photos like that, but I’ve never actually gone out to practice it. Practice makes progress, right?
5. Making More Female Friends
For obvious reasons, it’s easier for me to make male friends than female friends. There’s a whole universe of technology and evolution designed to introduce men and women. But finding female friends is a little tougher. It’s not hard when you try, but I actually have to try. I’ve had the most fun though when I’ve been in places where I’ve had both male and female friends. I need to make sure not to forget that and to put in the effort early or even before I get somewhere.
6. Pre-Trip Planning
I’ve gotten really comfortable winging it, but maybe I’m too comfortable winging it? I could at least crack a guidebook on the plane, you know? It’s great getting information from locals and figuring things out, but there are some activities that need to be arranged in advance.