1Step Away from the Instagram
Instagram has been, and probably will continue to be a source of travel inspiration for me. But something I’ve been noticing about myself found articulation this year when I read a description of millennials as “aspirational materialists.”
We’re bombarded on Instagram with images of the perfect life with the perfect belongings, and it’s easy to think that life would be better with that immaculately decorated apartment– or hotel room. It’s fine to enjoy nice things, but I don’t like that I’m increasingly tempted to prioritize beautiful hotels over actual experiences when I travel (and don’t get me started about the idiotic impulse to choose the most instagrammable meals).
If I can stretch my limited budget by staying at a boring but acceptable hotel and spend more time at my destination, shouldn’t that be a no-brainer? Let 2019 be the year of boring hotels, ugly-delicious food, and much more travel!
2Get Serious about Points and Miles
For years I’ve avoided seriously delving into the point and miles game, feeling that it was only for the wealthy or the obsessives who accumulate dozens of cards that they literally need a spreadsheet to keep track of.
I’m starting small with just a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and some tweaks to rewards programs I participate in, like switching from Upromise Dining to Skymiles Dining. In 2019, I’ll be looking into additional credit cards to add to my roster, so long as I can meet the minimum spend responsibly.
No, I won’t be traveling like The Points Guy anytime soon, but those credit card bonuses and rewards points do add up. I’ve been settling for crappy “rewards” from my credit cards for a lot of business and personal spending. With just my Chase card, I should earn enough for a free transatlantic flight by the end of the year, and hopefully much more.
3Let go of Guilt about Playing Favorites
With so many people focused on crossing countries off their list, my urge to return to the same country over and over sometimes makes me feel like an un-serious traveler. It’s a silly thing to feel guilty about, and I’m letting it go this year.
Japan was the first country I spent any significant amount of time in, and one of my first international trips. But something about Japan captured my mind in a way that none of my other early trips did.
I’m returning to Japan for the fifth time this spring, and planning on spending about a month exploring, eating and being 100% happy to be back in the familiar foreignness of a country I love.
4Make Travel More Social
I’ve gotten into a rut of only traveling almost exclusively with my boyfriend, and in 2019 I want to shake things up.
When you’re traveling with someone you’re close to–especially if that someone is also an introvert– it’s easy to barely interact with locals. You ask for directions, say please and thank you, and never really open up to new connections. I want to move beyond my comfort zone, be friendlier, and learn more. I’m looking into things like small group tours led by locals, like Airbnb Experiences, and dinners hosted by locals.
I’d also like to coerce, errr, encourage more people I care about to travel with me. I know it’s difficult for so many people to get away from their jobs and family responsibilities, but I truly believe travel is a valuable experience. It’s also a great way to force yourself to be in the moment and bond with friends and family.