We’ve finally made it — the year that has lasted a lifetime has finally come to an end. But as much as we all wanted the world to heal itself at the stroke of midnight on the 31st, it looks like we still have a way to go yet. Even though 2021 doesn’t look like the promising year that we all need right now, this doesn’t mean that we’re stuck with another 12 months of doom and gloom. Because the dawn of the year brings with it something that so many of us are craving right now — a fresh start. Although we can’t change the state of the world, we can make the changes that we need in our own life. If you’re looking for ways to improve yourself and make the most of 2021, these 5 travel based New Year’s resolutions could be exactly what you need right now.
Learn a new language
Yes, this one has been on my resolutions list for the past few years and it’s always forgotten about by the end of January. But this year, I’m determined to stick with it. And with lockdown the third undoubtedly making an appearance in the near future, I’ll have plenty of time to do it too!
Learning a language is probably the best travel related New Year’s resolution that you can do. How many times have you been left looking completely gormless when trying to communicate with locals whilst on holiday? Don’t worry, it isn’t just you. I’ve been left in this situation more times than I can count, and I’m definitely not alone. People from Britain are the worst at learning languages in Europe, with the majority of us only being able to speak English. And I’m ashamed to say that I’m part of that majority (unless you count the smattering of Spanish and French phrases that I somehow still remember from my GCSE’s).
So, this year I will finally begin my language learning quest. If you want to join me but you don’t know where to start, there are some great apps available that can help you achieve your resolution. Duolingo is the world’s most popular language learning app. This is hardly surprising — it’s completely free, it’s accessible and it’s seriously addictive. But it doesn’t come without criticism. Some feel that it can be repetitive, whilst others consider it to be too simplistic.
Whilst Duolingo is great for grasping the basics of a language, it certainly won’t make you fluent. If you only want to grasp the basics of a language, then that’s great. But if you want to become bilingual, you may need to splash out a bit. If you can afford it, Rosetta Stone is one of the longest running language-learning websites and it is well-loved by many. It goes into more detail than Duolingo and other similar apps, whilst still managing to be accessible and easy to follow. If you’re thinking about trying it out but you aren’t sure whether it’s right for you, you can try before you buy with a 3 day free trial, so you may as well give it a go!
Take a photography course
When you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, do you get pangs of jealousy when you see how well other people’s holiday snaps have turned out? If you want to take your pictures to the next level, take up a photography course in 2021 and wow your followers with gorgeous images.
Doing a course in person would be preferable, but for many of us this won’t be possible for a good while. Fortunately, there are plenty of courses that can be accessed online that are of just as good quality. However, they can range a lot in price so it’s important to do your research and decide how seriously you want to take your resolution. If you’re hoping to make living from your photography, it’s worth investing in a top quality course. The Institute of Photography’s course comes with a hefty price tag of £450, but the top notch reviews and 5 star rating on Trustpilot indicate that it’s more than worth it. If you’re serious about photography and you’d like to earn some money from it, this course is the best place to start.
However, not everyone is looking to turn their passion for photography into a career. If you’re interested in learning the skill just for fun, there are plenty of free online courses that you can take a look at. Shaw Academy are offering 4 weeks of their professional photography course for free, so that’s a great place to start. If you prefer to learn via reading rather than visual methods, this comprehensive guide of photography basics from lifehacker is a great resource. There are 5 sections to this guide, and they can be downloaded as PDF files too.
If you’ve read my article on travel gifts for backpackers, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Udemy. From personal experience, the several courses that I’ve taken have been fantastic and I can’t recommend them highly enough. And if you’re interested in learning more about photography but you don’t want to spend a fortune on a top of the range camera, they offer a range of courses on smartphone photography that are perfect for beginners. Two of the top rated ones include:
- Smartphone Photography | iPhone, Android, Instagram and more!: This course is usually £49.99, but it’s often on offer at a sale price of just £12.99. At a 4.6 star rating, this course is an absolute steal.
- Smartphone Photography: Take the BEST photos with your phone: This course comes with a cheaper price tag of just £19.99 and a rating of 4.6 stars, making it an affordable and reliable option for beginners.
Find something new near you every month
The chances are that it will be a while before we can travel internationally. But in the meantime, most of us are still able to explore our local area. So, make sure to make the most of it! If this hellish, miserable year has taught us anything, it’s the importance of loving where you live.
If you have access to a car, you’re in the perfect position to explore the world around you. One of the best and safest things we can do right now is explore nature by going on long, peaceful walks. Not only will it give you a health boost, but it’s the best way to enjoy yourself whilst still keeping your distance from others. There are a number of websites that you can use to find the best walks near you. The National Trust has a wide range of walks available, including challenging ones for expert hikers and family friendly, accessible strolls. If you can’t find the perfect walk for you here, make sure to check out this tool from the Ramblers website. It’s easy to navigate and it has a huge range of walks to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that takes your fancy.
However, if you’re a city dweller like me, you may not have access to a car. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t go exploring and make the most of your local area. Many of us tend not to do the touristy things in our own town — myself included. So why not take a wander through your local area and visit the tourist hot spots and monuments? Maybe there’s some stunning architecture in your town that you always seem to miss. Or maybe there’s a famous historical landmark that you used to pass on your way to work but you’ve never taken the time to appreciate it. Well, now’s your chance. Make a list of all the things you want to see in your local area in 2021 and get cracking!
Travel with food
Do you often find yourself stuck in a rut when it comes to food? After a long day at work, it’s easy to end up cooking jacket potato and beans three nights in a row. But why not try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone every once in a while? Travel the world from your own kitchen by experimenting with a whole host of different cuisines.
Not only will this resolution give you travel inspiration, but you might even learn a bit of history too. Food is an important part of many cultures, so recipes often have rich and detailed histories which play a big role in cultural identity. For example, Turkey and many of its surrounding countries have such strong coffee cultures as the Ottomans were once in charge of coffee trading routes. But your experimental cuisine resolution isn’t all about travel. Trying new foods has been proven to be beneficial for your health too — so tuck in!
If you’re stuck for recipe ideas, don’t fret as there are so many different ways to find them. If you prefer to read a recipe the good old fashioned way on paper, invest in a decent cookbook with a range of international recipes. One of the most popular is Rukmini Iyer’s cookbook, “The Roasting Tin: Around The World Recipe Book.” This is great for those of you who want to experiment but don’t like the thought of any extra washing up. If there’s a particular cuisine that you’re interested in, make sure to check out the Lonely Planet Shop for books that cover recipes from a range of different countries, such as “From the Source: Japan.”
And if you prefer to view your recipe on a screen, give the app “All Free Recipes: World Cuisines” a go. This app allows you to find a diverse assortment of international recipes at the click of the button, and you can even find a recipe based on what you already have in your fridge. It makes international cuisine far easier to find, so make sure to give it a try!
Keep on keeping on
Okay, so this last one isn’t strictly travel based. But after this year, it’s definitely necessary. If you want to give any of the above resolutions a go, that’s great! And you definitely should. But if it all feels a bit much right now and you can’t even think as far in advance as tomorrow let alone the rest of the year, that’s fine too. 2020 has been exhausting, draining and heart-breaking. So, don’t be afraid to give yourself a rest in 2021 — you deserve it! The world will still be there for you to explore whenever you’re ready.
Which of these resolutions are you planning on bringing with you into the new year? Do you have any resolutions that you want to share? Don’t be shy! Let me know in the comments section below.