New year, new you, blah blah blah, right? Wrong. Why does January 1st always have to mean overhauling your life? After all, your life is probably already pretty awesome. Sure, maybe there’s a few things you could improve, but there’s something to be said for appreciating who you are right now.
So instead of planning to lose 10 pounds or get our inboxes to zero, how about we just aim to be better people this new year? No changing who we are or getting angry if we skip the gym two weeks in. Instead, who wants to join us in committing to at least one of these responsible travel resolutions?
Step aside, Gordon Ramsay, this is the year we learn our way around the kitchen — but not just any kitchen. We want to put our international skills to the test and cook something completely unfamiliar, whether it’s Moroccan tajine, Dutch pannekoeken, or the perfect pho. Tackle dishes from a land you’ve always dreamed of visiting, or dive into a meal that reminds you of a favourite trip. What better way to get a “taste,” so to speak, for another culture than by learning about the ingredients, flavours, and cooking techniques?
Guidebooks may be the go-to resource for trip-planning, but we think that non-travel books are the resource for trip-dreaming. This year we want to escape every day, even if only for a moment, with our head in a story that takes place somewhere far, far away. Sometimes the best travel tales don’t actually come from travel writing. Fiction set in a foreign culture will give you perspective you can’t gain from a Google search or guidebook tips, and even non-fiction, from cookbooks to political memoirs, can give you a travel high. We’re vowing to learn more about the world and to travel far and wide on the page (although we’ll happily head to these places in real life, too).
If you’re like us, morning isn’t morning without a cup of caffeine, preferably from a local café where they know our name and our order when we walk through the door. But so many of us don’t realise the power we hold with our coffee choices. Coffee is the world’s most valuable tropical agricultural product, and a handful of multinational traders and roasters control a large chunk of the market. A typical coffee farmer earns less than $2 a day and may work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. This year, we vow to check that the coffee we buy is environmentally responsible and supports local economies and independent farmers.
Right now, somewhere in the world, there is probably a festival happening — and we want to be there. And yeah, while we realise we can’t actually attend every celebration on the planet, this year we want to check out at least one that we’ve never heard of before. Checking out small local festivals is one of the best ways to dive into a culture and meet locals. Let the tourist masses go to Oktoberfest and the Full Moon. We’ll be checking out Independence Day of the Republic of Uzupis.
Travelling with friends and family is great, but there’s a huge sense of accomplishment when you tackle the open road on your own. The freedom, the challenges — it’s equal parts terrifying and exciting as you dive into the complexities of a strange place without the comfort of someone holding your hand. Even if we don’t go somewhere far from home, we still want to spend at least a few days this year exploring an unfamiliar place completely on our own. Solo travel opens you up to what you really like and dislike while travelling, forces you to zone in on what you want to do, and reminds you that you’re a lot stronger and braver than you probably think you are.
To take a photo or not to take a photo. That is the question travellers are always asking. Is it better to snap a memory or savour it? We can lean both ways depending on the mood (we fully admit we loves us some Instagram), but one thing we are certain about is the responsibility that comes with photographing other people. When you’re excited by a new place, it’s easy to forget that the people making up that perfect shot you’re trying to snap are just that: people. This year, we vow to be more ethical photographers and more respectful of those around us when we pull out our cameras.
When was the last time you savoured a sunset? We’re not talking about taking a 10-second pause to snap a photo, but really settling in and appreciating the light and colours. The world can be a pretty place, and too many of us don’t take the time to appreciate it as we’re rushing from work to home to outings and back again, day in and day out. This year, we promise to take the time to breathe it in, and value the quiet, peaceful, beautiful moments that Mother Nature hands us. After all, sunsets are universal — you don’t have to be travelling or on vacation to enjoy one. They’re right outside your window, wherever you may be.
Don’t worry, we’re not pushing a new exercise regime. What we are pushing, though, is letting your feet do more exploring. Real travellers know the best way to see a city isn’t behind the window of a tour bus — it’s on foot. When you’re walking (or running), you can find hidden alleyways, make impromptu stops at sidewalk cafés, and make detours along routes inaccessible to traffic. And yes, okay, there’s that exercise aspect, too. But getting off your butt is hardly a bad thing, right? This year, we vow to spend more time on our feet, maybe even tackling a new running route or two.
The best part about travel, hands down, is the people you meet. Nothing opens your eyes to the world quite like conversations with strangers, and it’s the new friends who always stick in our mind after the trip has ended. This year, we want to keep meeting people (and animals!) around the world, learning about their cultures, their traditions, their beliefs, and their homes. The only problem is that, often, the friends travellers keep in touch with are fellow travellers. And while there’s no fault in that (those party nights in a backpacker bar are the stuff of legends), we can all learn a lot by making friends with those who actually live in these faraway corners of the globe.
We know that locals know. They can tell you where to find the best craft beer, where to catch the best view of the city skyline, where to hear the best bands on a Friday night, and where to avoid if you want to bypass the tourist traps. And that’s pretty much what we’re all about here at Urban Adventures, all the time. But this year, we promise to dive even deeper, to dig up the haunts that only insiders know about, the quirky hidden gems that will make us feel like we’ve got the secret scoop on a place. And then we’ll share those finds with you because we really like you. Just promise us you’ll show us around when we’re in your town, okay?