10 ways to not break your travel resolutions

You’ve made your travel resolutions, but how do you keep them? We all know the resolution drill. Sometime around the end of December, in the glow of holiday cheer when all things seem possible, we make a list of how we’ll improve. As travelers, perhaps we leaf through a copy of 1000 Places to See Before You Die and make a list of our own must see places. Or we decide that we’ll travel smarter. We’ll travel greener. We’ll be the best traveler there is.

Then roundabout January 5, the glow is gone and it’s same old same old. Your travel habits are the same they’ve always been except for perhaps a tweak or two.

There are things you can do to break your travel pattern. It has to do with your thinking. Here are 10 thoughts to keep you traveling and happy with your resolutions intact.

1. Be flexible: Let’s say you decide that you really, really, really need that trip to Hawaii. Only that trip to Hawaii will do. But round about February, it’s clear you don’t have the money to get to Hawaii. Flexibility allows you to pick another destination within your financial reach. However, you understand that not going to Hawaii this year doesn’t mean you are never going. This trip could be your pre-Hawaii trip. Voila! Your resolution to make to Hawaii is still intact.

2. Ignore aches and pains: So, you have a bit of a backache. Your joints slow you down. Your feet hurt when you walk a lot. You need a hip replacement. Go on that rafting trip anyway if it’s that once in a lifetime opportunity. Here’s the thing. You can ache at home on the couch, or you can ache in an unusual destination or on that trip you’ve always wanted. This happened to us two summers ago. My hubby’s hip was not doing him any favors but we had an opportunity to go on a group five day raft trip on the Smith River in Montana. We took the trip with my husband as one of the main rafting guides. His hip is now replaced. Six weeks after his operation this year we took a three week road trip through the West. Not to brag, or anything, but if you knew us, if we can do it, so can you.

3. Don’t give up easily: You have a trip planned, but it seems that life is not helping you out one bit. Your car, for example, needs unexpected work. Or you’re toilet on the second floor has leaked enough that your kitchen ceiling has caved in a tad. Mop up the floor, find a mechanic who can fix that car lickety-split and hit the road. Keep saying to yourself that life is not telling you to not go on the trip, but your resolve is being tested. Go, man! Go!

4. If it’s raining–so what? You’ve planned a day at the beach, or you’re heading to Disneyland–or you’re going to visit the Statue of Liberty. This is the one day you can make it to this outdoor destination. Don’t whine about it. Get out the umbrella, wear a pair of shoes that can get wet and head out the door. If you’re going to an amusement park, believe me. There are rain ponchos to be bought there. The beauty of a rainy day is that ride lines are not so long. As for the beach, enjoy the solitude. Also, it may not rain all day.

5. Be delighted with the cheapest thing on the menu— You are on a tight budget and the place you are going is not known for being inexpensive. Go anyway, but aim for the cheapest thing you can do while there. What’s free? Visiting religious places is free. Walking is free. Parks are free. Going in and out of stores is free. Some museums are much cheaper than others. Go to the cheap ones. When eating out, look for the cheapest thing on the menu, it’s yours. The whole time you are on this trip, be happy you are on this trip. Don’t keep saying if only I had enough money to do or buy . . .Be happy, for heavens sake!

6. Nothing is perfect–Don’t aim for a trip to be perfect. If something has to be perfect, you can be derailed before you start. If what you have in mind is not possible, look forward to the surprises you’ll find when the trip is not just the way you wanted it. It could be better. If it’s worse, what a great story you can tell others. People love worse travel stories better than the best times ever stories.

7. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you can’t travel–The worst advice I ever heard was “Travel now because when you have kids, it all changes.” Harumph! Not true. If you ignore all these other resolutions, maybe that person is right, but kids will travel if you travel. When my son was three months old, we went to Thailand for several days. Once when our daughter was five and she was pulling her pull behind suitcase through Narita Airport in Tokyo, she exclaimed, “I want to travel the world.” We’ve done a pretty good job of it so far.

8. Just because your significant other has different travel likes doesn’t mean you can’t travel— Just because you have a partner, doesn’t mean you’re a salt and pepper shaker set that always has to be together. If you have different ideas about what to do on a trip, pick places that have things for both of you. Meet up at night after a satisfying day. If your partner doesn’t want to head home for the holidays but wants to go to Myanmar instead, don’t see who can get the other to bend first. Do what’s in your heart. You’ll both end up merry and bright.

9. Be open to opportunities–When any one ever says, would you like to go to–or an opportunity you hadn’t thought of before comes up, say yes. This adage has found me in Mexico building houses, on a six-week trip Rotary club trip to Nigeria, on a 7-day cruise to Greece from Venice, at my Danish family’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration in Denmark and Los Angeles meeting Mark Saltzman, one of my favorite authors.

10. Let the house go for a change–Do not ever not go somewhere because the house is a mess. Sure don’t let it go to seed, but seriously, does the vacuuming have to be done today? Don’t’ let the list of things that need to get done keep you a prisoner. Schedule your must do things, around travel. Keep resolution Number 1 in mind.

Here’s to happy travel in 2010 with your resolutions in tact. It is your life after all.