With a brand new year of travel ahead of us, full of new experiences and destinations, we've pulled together a list of travel resolutions we think will make a difference to your travels in 2016.
Travel outside your comfort zone
In 2016 we’re all vowing to push ourselves outside our comfort zones and travel provides some of the best opportunities to do this. There are pulse-heightening activities on offer all over the world, from white-water rafting in Costa Rica, to sleeping under the stars in Indonesian Borneo with the calls of wildlife echoing all around.
There are challenges you can take on too — whether that be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or walking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. Or it could be a personal challenge, maybe you want to travel alone but have never quite taken the plunge or perhaps you’ve longed to visit a destination so far removed from the everyday like Mongolia.
Step back from the lens
There’s no denying that travel and photography go hand in hand, and our specialists love nothing better than sharing their best-loved images on return from their research trips. We certainly wouldn’t be without our cameras whilst travelling, however, there are definitely times we think it’s good to step away from the lens.
Safari trips are a good example of this — where you can be so consumed by capturing that ‘perfect’ shot of the leopard climbing up the acacia tree that you don’t drink in the full majesty of the creature with your own eyes.
It's okay to just relax
Exploring the local sights and getting under the skin of a destination is most certainly recommended when on your travels, but taking some time to simply relax is often much needed on a trip too. There is nothing wrong in spending time unwinding on a white-sand beach in the Maldives, watching the world go by from a floating sundeck in the Indian Ocean or admiring the stunning scenery from your veranda on a private island in the Seychelles.
Our Hidden Beaches properties provide the best of both worlds to ensure you get some much needed downtime, as well as the opportunity to explore when you want to.
Many of us feel like we want to give back to the communities we visit, but struggle to find the right way to do this. By travelling responsibly you can do just that without compromising on the enjoyment of your trip.
As destinations recover from natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Nepal last year, the local people actively welcome back travellers to improve the country's economy.
Our partnership with Free the Children also provides the opportunity to get involved in some of their rewarding Me to We initiatives in Ecuador, India and Kenya — all of which make a great addition to any trip. Join in with community projects and meet the local people whose lives are improved dramatically as a result.
Take a digital detox
Travelling somewhere so remote and off the beaten path where there’s no mobile connection can sound daunting, but unplugging from our digital devices while travelling is a great way to immerse ourselves into the country we visit. Li-An Lodge in Longji, China, is a fantastic example of where you can get away from it all. Soak up the stunning surroundings without the distractions from modern gadgets and everyday life.
Be brave: try local food
As travellers we’re always looking for ways to get under the skin of the countries we visit. From visiting local communities and immersing ourselves in colourful festivals to trying unusual local dishes.
This year we plan to continue to sample some of the delicious but exotic fare on offer around the world, whether eating fresh street food on a walking tour of Bangkok, sampling fresh sushi and sashimi in Tokyo, or trying a traditional pastilla (minced pigeon meat in flaky pastry) from the Djemaa el Fna food stalls in Morocco.
Be awake for sunrise
Rising before the dawn may not sound like the most appealing thing to do when you’re on your travels, but there are some occasions when getting up early is worth the effort. Early morning is a wonderful time to witness local life, whether joining the lively market sellers at Cai Rang floating market on the Mekong, quietly observing t'ai chi practice on the beaches of California, or giving alms to Buddhist monks as they wander through the streets in Luang Prabang.
At this time of the day you’ll have the opportunity to witness the fast-paced tuna auctions at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, or admire the changing light over Uluru in Australia. Sunrise also tends to be the time of day that wildlife is most active, meaning better viewing opportunities, whether you’re searching for the elusive tiger in India, or watching big cats return from a night of hunting in Africa.
Get closer to the wildlife
A close encounter with wildlife can be a very moving experience and often a highlight of a trip. In Kaikoura, New Zealand you can swim with dolphins and snorkel with sea lions. It’s a great way to enjoy views of the surrounding landscape and understand the importance of conservation in the area.
The Galapagos Islands are famous for their fearless wildlife, ideal if you’re a keen photographer. Sit among iguanas, giant tortoises and sea lions and set up the perfect photograph. Africa offers many types of safari, with the opportunity to see the Big Five, or if you’re feeling brave, test your mettle with shark cage diving in South Africa.
It’s easy to over prepare and pack too much when going away on your travels, but packing a little lighter gives you the freedom to bring home even more tokens and gifts from your trip. Use the extra space to stock up on silk scarves from Thailand, handcrafted items from Singapore or colourful Maasai tartans from your safari in Kenya.
Bringing treasures and trinkets home with you from local markets and traditional shops will make lovely momentos of the fantastic experiences you had.
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