2016 (Non) Resolutions and My Travel Wish List

Perth Australia fireworks

I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, and for once it’s not just a case of me being a contrarian. Personally, I don’t think we should wait for an arbitrary date on the calendar to start improving ourselves. It’s a continuous process, one without a firm start and end. I also believe that setting a series of personal goals on the first of January every year is a recipe for failure. It’s too contrived and doesn’t really hit at the heart of whatever issues are bothering you, whether it’s losing weight or being a more patient person. That being said, there are a few ways I’ve been trying to improve my own travel experience, and while they’re not New Year’s resolutions, they are changes I’d like to see realized in 2016 and beyond.

Carry on only – This may seem silly, but I desperately want to travel carry-on only. It would save me so much time and stress, but based on past attempts I’m not sure I can manage it. I honestly don’t understand how people can pack two weeks worth of clothes into a teeny, tiny bag. It’s a magical skill set that has so far eluded me. While I know I won’t be able to perfect it for every trip, I’d love to try to accomplish this herculean feat at least half of the time in 2016.

Talk to more people – A couple of months ago I was asked to chronicle some of the people I met while traveling in 2015 who made a difference in my travel experiences. The problem was I couldn’t think of very many, which worried me greatly. It showed me that I didn’t do a great job of getting out and chatting with people last year, one of the most important aspects of the travel experience. I need to get back to my roots in 2016 and take the time to engage with as many people as I can when I’m on the road.

Walk the road not taken more often – I think I’ve fallen into a travel rut, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not good either. In 2016 I need to make sure that I stop being so regimented, and put down the guidebooks and just go off and do my own thing. I think I’ve become so obsessed with documenting everything and making sure I don’t miss something “important” that I sometimes miss the most crucial aspect of travel – the spirit of discovery.

alm Cove Queensland Australia

2016 Travel Wish List

It’s also that time of year when I dust off the planner and look towards setting my travel calendar for the next 12 months. I’m not a typical blogger, in that I have a home, partner and a nice suburban life so I can’t (and don’t want to) travel continuously. That means I’m judicious with my travels, never leaving more than once a month and usually never being away from home for more than a week or so. I already have a couple of trips planned and many more in the works, but there are also many places I would love to visit and explore for the first time. Looking back at last year’s version of this list, I did a horrible job of traveling to my bucket list destinations. Whether it was a question or time or opportunity, 2015 was not the year of transformational experiences like I had hoped it would be. 2016 will be different and it’s with a focused attention that I will plan my next 12 months of travel experiences, hopefully journeying to many areas around the world that are completely new to me. I’ve had these destinations on my travel bucket list for a long time and while I know I probably won’t see them all, I am hoping to finally visit at least a few.

South Pacific/French Polynesia

My first real travel obsession and one that I STILL haven’t been able to check off the list yet, despite its prominence on similar lists year after year. When I was a kid I read Michener’s epic tome Hawaii, which set off a furious bout of wanderlust not just for Hawaii, but for the South Pacific as well. Even though I am not normally a beach kind of guy, there is just something about the perfect waters of French Polynesia that gets my heart beating a little bit faster. Will 2016 be the year I finally make it to the beautiful islands of the South Pacific? Who knows, but I’m hopeful.

China

My only experience with China is visiting Hong Kong – I’ve never been to the mainland and I am frankly intrigued. It’s obviously a massive country and requires many visits to see properly, but I would like to at least visit to start the process of education and to see for myself Beijing, pandas and of course that large wall for which they are so famous. I have to be honest though, the food and language barrier both intimidate me.

Myanmar

Closed off to foreigners for years, Myanmar suddenly finds itself as one of the hottest new travel destinations in the world. It’s not its trendiness that appeals to me though; it’s the photos I’ve seen my friends take. The people, the temples and the countryside all look like something out of a movie – it’s just that beautiful. While traveling there definitely comes with some headaches, I’d be happy to take those on to experience the country before the rest of the world changes it too much.

Alaska

I’ve been to almost every state in the Union, but the 49th state has eluded me. I’m not exactly sure why either, but I just haven’t managed a visit to this massive and beautiful place. Chatting with family members though, I think I’m getting closer to talking them into taking a cruise and so finally I’ll be able to experience the glaciers and quirky communities that make this last frontier of America so very appealing.

Tasmania

Australia is one of those countries I could visit a thousand times and never get tired of the experience. It’s a special place but Tasmania in particular currently has piqued my interest. Slightly remote, amazingly beautiful and somewhat different from the mainland, Tasmania is an intriguing place. Of all of these destinations, I really do hope that I can make this one happen in 2016.

West Coast National Parks

Although I’ve technically visited almost every state, I don’t feel like I’ve really SEEN my own country. Its impressive size means that lifetimes could be spent exploring America and still things would be missed. What I haven’t done yet and would love to try this year is an epic road trip through some of the Western states, including stops at a few of our amazing National Parks. More than a century ago the US began the conservation movement and our National Park system was the first in the world to recognize the inherent societal value these pristine wildlands possess. So they’re important. Add in quirky roadside stops and I really think this adventure will be a personal favorite.

India (Maybe)

India is one of those places that evokes a visceral reaction from people who have visited – they either love it or hate it, there is no middle ground. I honestly don’t know if I would like it or not and up until now I haven’t felt prepared enough to visit. But I think I’m ready mentally to see what the subcontinent is really like. I want to travel there though in very specific ways and see very specific things and it’s owing to this level of particularity that I’m not sure it’ll happen and frankly, I’m not completely convinced that I want it to. But we’ll see!

What are some dream destinations you’d love to visit in 2016?

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

5 Responses

  1. Jozefa

    Hi Matt,
    Wish you a fun and carefree 2016 filled with magic moments, places and people.

    I wanted to react on your statement about China. I had the pleasure of working in Beijing for six months and travelling around a bit . I absolute fell in love with this country, its landscapes and stunning imperial architecture.
    One of the pleasant surprises was how much I liked the food. Of course there are the fried insects on sticks that scare any Westerner, but the cuisine of China is so varied thanks to its regional flavors and a far cry from what is served in Chinese restaurants in Europe. I was lucky to mostly eat out with colleagues who advised me well; and as the Chinese order dishes for everyone at the table there is ample chance to sample what is on offer.
    I agree that the language is a challenge as for example taxi drivers don´t understand English. That makes it difficult to get to know the locals, which is a real shame. At least I got to know some of their interests and rituals through my colleagues who spoke English. To get around, most hotels will provide you with a card in English and Mandarin that you can give to taxi drivers with tourist destinations and most common requests ( E.g. take me to the airport).
    One of my best experiences was taking a cooking class in a traditional hutong dwelling and going to the local market for ingredients – so very different from our supermarkets.

    Warm regards from Munich,
    Jozefa

    Reply
  2. Liz Smith

    I also DREAM of going anywhere in the South Pacific, and even living in Hawaii hasn’t softened that dream – I just need a push! Meet you there???

    Reply
  3. Jenni

    I went to Myanmar in December with my mom and sister and I would highly recommend it. The people are very friendly and the scenery and temples are gorgeous. Definitely worth working out the logistics in advance. Our transfers and hotels were all secured in advance. We had local guides in each city who were so friendly and personable, telling their own story in addition to sharing the history and showing us the sights. Good luck on your non-resolutions!

    Reply
  4. Krista

    Great list! I traveled with someone recently who went to Myanmar last year and she spoke very highly of it. I’m told the logistics can be challenging, but it was a fascinating country with a LOT to discover. Looking forward to hearing more about your travels in 2016!

    Reply
  5. Our Wanders

    Exciting list! South Pacific is on our dream list for a while, too, but it’s definitely not for this year. Excited to hear your stories about it though!
    We are planning a lot of European destinations for 2016: places which are on our list long time ago (like Paris, Croatia, Austria) and some which we got excited about recently (like Slovenia, Slovakia, Iceland, the Baltic countries). We also don’t travel continuously, so we’ll see how all of it will fit into one year. 😀

    Reply

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