2020 | New Year’s Resolutions for Travel

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It’s kind of crazy to think that in a few hours’ time, the fireworks and countdown at midnight will mark the end of a decade. As I reflect on the year,  memories captured on my phone and experiences that provoked thoughts have become lessons for the future. Before the clock strikes twelve, I want to look ahead at the upcoming year and set some goals. As far as new year’s resolutions go for travel, 2020, I have high hopes for you.

Climate change, political climate and overtourism continue to be issues that influence travel plans and challenge the industry to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape. 

With the rise of the middle class and flights becoming more affordable thanks to low-cost carriers, plane travel has boomed in recent years and is projected to double in the next 20 years. At the same time, concerns for the environmental impact of plane travel has prompted questions of alternative travel options. Conde Nast’s list for 2020 travel trends includes the launch of electric planes to eliminate carbon emissions that come with plane travel. Concurrently, frequent flyers may have heard of the term flygskam, or flight shaming, as recently popularized by the likes of climate activist Greta Thunberg. Back in August, the Swedish teen attended the UN Climate Action Summit in New York after sailing across the Atlantic for two weeks on a yacht. She has since returned to Europe for COP25 in Madrid by hitching a ride on the Youtube-famous catamaran La Vagabonde.  Her unconventional and carbon-neutral travels have effectively inspired travellers from many European countries to follow suit and opt-out of flying. While it is not yet realistic for airlines to adopt sustainable fuel, many travellers have turned to train travel as an alternative and sparked the wide use of the term, tagskryt, or train brag. 

The socially conscious millennial and emerging Gen Alpha travellers are also driving a shift in how we travel. While all-inclusive and family vacations continue to be popular, the younger generation prefers to pick up a backpack and travel solo in search of opportunities to be mindfully tuned in and connect with the local experience. Due to the boom in solo travelling, co-living accommodations have become popular for local-independent workers and lone travellers looking to stay socially connected. Ancestry or heritage travel is nothing new, but with 26 million people all over the world now having taken an ancestry DNA test, the number of travellers travelling to reconnect with their roots has also increased in recent years.

Source: Trekk Soft’s report for 2019-2020

  • Spain is the most “travel-ready” country according to the World Economic Forum 
  • France is the most popular destination with an estimate of 100 million visitors a year by 2020
  • Solo travellers make up more than half (57%) of the 31.5 million passengers at Dublin Airport in 2018
  • Hotels and flights are usually booked 12 weeks before the trip
  • Travellers tend to search for experiences 3 months prior to the start of the trip
  • Monday is the most popular day for booking while Saturday is the least busy
  • Over the past year, “Near Me” searches on Google Maps have grown 150%

My New Year’s Resolutions for Travel in 2020

For me, my new year’s resolutions are often just hopeful dreams written on the first page of a brand new notebook at the start of the year that I soon forget and pick up again 8 months into the year, wondering if it’s not too late to start. Without some structure and a way to measure incremental successes, it just ain’t happening. But with a four-months long travel plan coming up, I do want to give some thought to how I can be more responsible in my travels, both to the environment and the cultures I encounter. To that end, I’ve decided to list my top 3 goals for travel this year and come up with actionable ways to implement them.

Reduce my carbon footprint

A while ago, I tried the Footprint Calculator which is a fun and interactive way to calculate just how much we are contributing to carbon emissions with our daily habits and frequency of travel. If everyone lived like me, we’d need more than 5 planets. Yikes!!

The first foremost way to reduce my carbon footprint is to make use of public transportation when travelling locally. I already do this on a daily basis, albeit always with a scowl and a groan because waiting for the bus in the rain is absolutely miserable. But it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to avoid flying at all given that at the start of the new year, I’ll be travelling halfway around the world and then throughout Asia… 

Fortunately, I’ll still be able to travel around locally by train and bus in each of the countries I’ll be visiting. My train trip across Canada in 3 weeks back in 2017 has trained me well to take in while tune out, and I am looking forward to long stretches of time exploring the landscape with my eyes. On a similar note, I’ll be travelling slowly and spending at least one month in each of the places I visit. This not only gives me a deepened insight into local life and experiences but will also help reduce my carbon footprint. 

Shop ethically and use eco-friendly products

Shopping ethically means considering the environmental and economic impact of my purchases. Travel minis are great for short-term travel but wasteful as they need to be replaced more frequently. I’ve replaced my toiletry bag with products that not only last for much longer but are also less harmful to the environment. My eco-friendly Mobius backpack from Canadian brand Tentree is also made entirely from recycled materials, which is an amazing feat! You can read more about how I manage to pack only one backpack for 3 months of travel, while paying attention to eco-friendly and space-saving products. Shopping ethically also means contributing to the local economy by employing local services, buying groceries from local markets, and buying handmade souvenirs directly from local artisans, as opposed to mass-produced products from factories.

Tell stories

Whose stories?
As the great late Anthony Bourdain said it,
“I look, I listen, but in the end I know it’s my story. Not Kamau’s, not Kenya’s, or Kenyans’. Those stories are yet to be heard.”

It’s not often that we hear the stories of the locals in our travel narratives. We like to speak from our own experiences and discuss local cultures as being the other. The art of listening seems to be lost in translation. My new year’s resolution is to continue to hone my ability to observe and listen when writing about my travel.

Is videography better at capturing the real essence of the local story? I think not. Wielding the power of a pen or a camera, we inevitably see things through a lens and project what we think is happening. In this new year, why not position yourself as the other and learn to negotiate that.

23 comments
  1. Great list! I’m also hoping to reduce my carbon footprint this year and use more eco-friendly products. My biggest problem is that I live in an archipelago – literally impossible to get to many places quickly without going on a flight. 🙁 Then again, I don’t really drive anymore these days so not having to use a car has significantly reduced mine in the past year. At least… that’s a plus, I guess.

    1. I totally agree with you– for most of us, it’s unrealistic to just swear off flying. But every little bit helps; taking public transportation or even carpooling when travelling locally are a good start!

  2. This was such an amazing post to read! Besides you being a great writer, the content was so enlightening!
    I had no idea about tagskryt, (train brag) or flygskam (flight shaming). It totally slipped my mind the traveling can add to or climate issues or over-tourism!

    Thanks for the share!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! As I travel a lot by plane, these are new concepts for me as well! I’m not ready to give up flying, but its environmental impact needs to be better addressed. Hopefully there will be better solutions in the near future.

  3. Eco friendly is so important and it’s good to be mindful even as we are traveling. I look forward to hearing about your future adventures.

  4. I have been noticing a lot lately how much garbage my family and I are creating and it’s crazy. I have been shocked more and more lately. I would love to reduce our waste and be more eco-friendly. Its definitely on my list of things to do this year. Thank you for sharing such a great post!

  5. I enjoyed those statistics! I think I am one of those ‘near me’ searchers. I use them everyday. lol. I wish to travel more this year. Definitely use more eco-friendly products and travel more responsibly!

  6. I love your emphasis on being eco-friendly! Especially while travelling it can be so tough, but you’re absolutely right: every little bit counts. Thank you for sharing – wishing you a happy & exciting new year!

  7. Great list. Amazing post to read.Eco friendly is so important. My kids are small so its really had to travel with them, hoping to travel soon

  8. Very unique resolution to use eco-friendly products. This is really encouraging to think about the impact of the environment.

  9. I thick exactly the same way. Being Eco-friendly is so very important.. Keeping few simple things in mind if we try to follow small things we are somehow helping our environment and protecting ourselves.

  10. These are good new resolutions for travel to follow. It’s like traveling with the purpose of helping preserve our Mother Earth, and not just to travel for fun.

  11. These are great resolutions for travel. I love how you are striving to shop locally and ethically during your travels this year. Good luck!

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