‘New year, new me’ — but does it ever go to plan? Whether you usually stick to your new year’s resolutions or let them fall by the wayside (or never bother with them in the first place), our specialists have put together some goals for 2023 that you can combine with your travels for a greater chance of success — and enjoyment. From exploring Japan’s healthy cuisine instead of counting calories to swapping your gym membership for an active trip in Australia, we share our own take on classic resolutions.
Classic resolution: stick to a healthier diet
Our take: explore one of the world’s healthiest cuisines
By Japan specialist Tamatha
Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa has the world’s highest proportion of centenarians — many give credit to the Okinawa diet, which largely consists of stinky tofu (chòu dòufu) and bitter melons known as goya. I’ve tried both and honestly, I’m not sure I want a century of that. Instead, I suggest embarking on a culinary tour of Japan.
In Kyoto, a local woman can teach you to make various dishes from the healthy obanzai style of cuisine, which features plenty of fish, vegetables, and tofu. Japanese cuisine is highly seasonal, but you might cook with radishes, eggplant, spinach, or mackerel.
We can also arrange for you to learn how to make two of Japan’s most familiar dishes, ramen and gyoza. Exclusive to Audley, the class takes place in Tokyo’s Kappabashi street, which boasts a dense concentration of culinary wares, from chef’s knives to realistic plastic foods.
Osaka is known for its big appetite — for life, for food, for drinking — and I feel like a stop here is vital to any culinary tour of Japan. A walking (and eating and drinking) tour of the city’s eateries will let you sample fried octopus balls, cabbage-and-pork pancakes, and plenty of whisky.
Classic resolution: spend more time with family
Our take: make some time for yourself on your family trip
By concierge specialist Thora
When I was four, we visited Costa Rica and I remember seeing a sloth hanging on a tree in an alfresco restaurant. Suddenly, my young mind understood I was far from home — a memory that’s endured to this day. As a concierge specialist, I often help families choose a location that works with the school calendar but still has something for all members, so you can each take time to enjoy the destination in your own way.
A family trip to Thailand is a great option for an active family looking for something a little more adventurous. The trip might include kayaking and cycling for energetic teens, responsible elephant encounters for children, and a cooking class for any gourmets in your group. And then, after so much togetherness, you can unwind on the sun-soaked beaches of Koh Samui.
Another great option is Egypt — even the youngest family members can appreciate the size and scope of the pyramids and temples there, while history buffs can delve deeper at the country’s museums. Then, you can all head to the beach, where kids can play in the sand while teens and adults snorkel the coral reefs just offshore.
Classic resolution: give more to charity
Our take: stay somewhere that gives back to the local area
By South Africa specialist Louise
We work hard to make sure our trips only change the world for the better, and part of this means hand-picking places to stay that support the local economy, communities, or ecosystems (and, often, all three). Giving back doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice luxury on your trip, though — many of the places we work with that offer the most direct support also provide indulgent stays.
One that I particularly recommend on a trip to South Africa is Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. Tucked on a fynbos slope between ancient milkwood forests and the mountains, the lodge is at the edge of the richly diverse Walker Bay Nature Reserve. The rooms and suites are luxe, spacious, and sleekly modern, and you can choose from a wide mix of experiences, from botanical safaris in 4x4s that help you explore the endemic fynbos vegetation to assisting the reserve’s beekeeper or heading out on whale-watching trips.
Your stay here helps support The Grootbos Foundation’s efforts to preserve the ecosystems and support local communities. For example, its Green Futures initiative provides education in horticulture, ecology, and guiding, helping to provide jobs and foster another generation with vital conservation skills.
Classic resolution: get out of your comfort zone
Our take: stay in the zone to take a deep dive into what you love
By Vietnam specialist Mark
New dishes, adrenaline-driven experiences, and words that feel awkward to your tongue… travel offers plenty of opportunities to get out of your comfort zone. However, I think the most rewarding type of trip is when you embrace your niche interests. You still get that thrill of the new, but it’s paired with the satisfaction of indulging in your passion.
Take arts and crafts as an example. If you love getting creative, I could plan a trip for you to visit Vietnam and explore the country’s rich artistic heritage. I suggest starting in Hanoi, where you can take a guided tour of the Fine Arts Museum, including time in the gallery cafe for an in-depth discussion with your specialist guide. Afterwards, you can visit Bui Thanh Phuong's private studio to enjoy his original masterpieces.
Continuing down the length of the country, you can stop to meet a whole raft of different specialist makers, artists, and craftspeople along the way. For example, you might visit a village just outside Hoi An where the city’s iconic lanterns are made for a class on how to make one for yourself. If you plan to travel as a family, you could include a workshop in bamboo paper art in Hue — a simple but effective creative process for any age.
Classic resolution: learn a new language
Our take: Embrace the untranslatable – and go explore it for yourself
By Costa Rica specialist Caitlin
Pura vida — it’s an emotion, it’s an attitude, it’s happiness, it’s a way of life in Costa Rica. You’ll hear Ticos (Costa Ricans) calling it to one another as a greeting, or in response to the question, ‘how are you?’. Pura vida — literally ‘pure life’ — also means being thankful for what you have, being carefree, and not dwelling on the negative. Amen to that, I say — and on this highlights tour of Costa Rica, you’ll get to live it for yourself.
Witnessing the country’s thriving biodiversity in its many unspoiled natural environments helps, I think, to understand pura vida — Costa Ricans are aware they’re ‘rich in paradise,’ a phrase I once heard a resident use, and which has always stayed with me. Accordingly, they live in balance with nature. On this trip, you’ll explore the waterways of Tortuguero National Park and the Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve, looking for everything from rare birdlife to green basilisks. You’ll also gain a first-hand understanding of the country’s conservation efforts.
The trip ends with time in Nosara, a bohemian beach town with good surf breaks and many a yoga class — an ideal spot for enjoying the peacefulness that’s all part of pura vida, too.
Classic resolution: visit as many places as possible
Our take: slow down and explore a destination in depth
By Canada specialist Grace
We all have a list of places we want to visit, and it’s tempting to check off as many as possible in a year, or even on the same trip. However, I’d argue a better way to explore is to slow the pace, picking one or two areas to base yourself for longer so you can get to know them beyond their headline highlights.
One region that really benefits from this is Alberta, Canada. Almost everyone visits Lake Louise, whizzes along the Icefields Parkway, and enjoys whistle-stop tours of Banff and Jasper, often as part of a wider trip through western Canada. But, stay longer and you can visit quieter but just-as-turquoise lakes like Maligne, Moraine, Bow, and Peyto, hike to little-known waterfalls, or venture beyond the Rockies completely to explore windswept prairies and Dinosaur Provincial Park’s fossil-strewn Badlands.
You could time your visit to coincide with the Calgary Stampede for an insight into the Old-West culture that still thrives here. Or, spend a few days in Waterton Lakes National Park, near the US border, where the mountains and lakes echo those of its better-known counterparts but it’s far easier to find your own corner of wilderness.
Classic resolution: plan something big to celebrate a birthday or anniversary
Our take: seize the moment – set off on that epic trip today
By Antarctica specialist Nik
There’s nowhere on Earth like Antarctica. Yes, you can visit snow-and-ice-bound landscapes all over the world, but nowhere has that same sense of overpowering isolation and pristineness as the Great White Continent..
It’s an epic trip in every way, requiring you to fly to Argentina’s southernmost tip then cross the fabled Drake Passage before glimpsing the Antarctic Peninsula. Many expedition cruises focus on this region alone, while some offer the bonus of seeing king penguins in South Georgia, plus the Falkland Islands’ avian and marine life.
Expedition is the word — your crew adapt your itinerary according to the elements, sometimes changing the plan at short notice if there are reports of, say, whale sightings nearby. You might hike or even bivouac on the ice, explore ice floes by Zodiac boat, kayak among seal colonies, and observe penguins at close quarters.
Throughout it all, you’re guided by experienced leaders and experts in their field: one might be an authority on Shackleton, another on glaciology, another on polar conservation.
And, it’s all closer than you might think — several of our preferred vessels are currently offering good deals depending on when you’re able to travel.
Classic resolution: Join a gym, get fit
Our take: Think outside the (sweat)box – plan an inspiring trip to help you get more active
By Australia specialist Tom
Keeping fit outdoors is a way of life in Australia. With year-round sunshine, warm waters, and roomy stretches of sand (often) on your doorstep, it’s the ideal place to forget about more conventional forms of exercise, and embrace the life aquatic.
On this trip to Western Australia, you’ll have the chance to swim, kayak, and dive on the Ningaloo Reef, one of the world’s finest marine ecosystems. The main draw are whale sharks, huge filter feeders that you can observe while snorkeling close by.
I’m a big fan of snorkeling as an activity in general and you’ll see a lot here — potentially four species of turtle, comical-looking trumpetfish, gentle groupers, and more.
For a slice of Australian beach culture, head to one of the many great spots outside Perth. I suggest Cottesloe Beach, for swimming in calm seas, and Scarborough Beach, for surfing.
Beyond the ocean, there are countless ways to explore this region while enjoying a workout. Cycle around Rottnest Island, a reserve that’s home to ever-curious quokkas. Or, hike the Cape-to-Cape Track, for coastal views and spring wildflowers.
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