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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

White Water Rafting
White water rafting, Costa Rica

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 Borneo with the calls of wildlife resounding 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

Photographer on safari in Africa
Life through the lens on safari in Africa

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 ok to just relax

Hammock, beach resort
Rest and rejuvenate

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.

Travel responsibly

Collecting water at Araveli, India
Collecting water at Araveli, India

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.

A great example of this is when Audley traveller Lindsay visited Tanjung Puting National Park in Indonesian Borneo after much of it was affected by forest fires. The national park rely on money from tours to protect the wildlife and their environment. As Nepal returns to normality the local people are actively welcoming back travellers to improve the country’s economy.

Our partnership with Free the Children also provides the opportunity to get involved in some of the rewarding Me to We initiatives in Ecuador, India and Kenya – all of which make a great addition to any trip. You can get involved with community projects, and meet the local people, whose lives are being improved through the projects.

Take a digital detox

Lian Lodge, Longji
Lian Lodge, Longji, China

Travelling somewhere so remote and off the beaten path 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, instead of opting for Google Maps or Trip Advisor, why not ask a local where the best place to eat is? 

Feeling inspired? Here are seven of our favourite off the grid hotels.

Be brave: try local food

Thai street food stall, Bangkok
Thai street food stall, Bangkok, Thailand

As travellers we’re always looking for ways to get under the skin of the countries we visit, and while we’re often keen to visit local communities and immerse ourselves in colourful festivals, we can be tentative when it comes to trying unusual local dishes. 

This year we plan to challenge our perception of food and 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 Peru’s national dish of roasted guinea pig, or trying stewed snails from the Djemaa el Fna food stalls in Morocco.

Be awake for sunrise

Monks with alms bowls
Monks with alms bowls, Luang Prabang, Laos

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 tai chi practice on the beaches of California, or giving alms to Buddhist monks as they wander through the streets in Luang Prabang. (We'd advise finding a less crowded, quiet street for this experience).

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

Dusky dolphins, Kaikoura
Dusky dolphins, Kaikoura, New Zealand

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 amongst 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.

Packing light

Lady with colourful scarves
Colourful silk scarves, Thailand

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

Less weight on your shoulders means you can truly immerse yourself in the local culture, buying treasures and trinkets to remind you of the fantastic experiences and memories you made.

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