4 New Year’s traveler resolutions

Mummer's Parade, Philadelphia, PA by Chris H Connelly, http://www.flickr.com/photos/c_conn/

It’s become “de rigueur” for writers to look back at the past year and suggest resolutions for the coming year, so I’m going to take the opportunity to suggest resolutions travelers might want to adopt for the upcoming year.

After viewing the actions and habits of many infrequent travelers this past year, I think I have some traveler resolutions which will enhance many vacations in 2013. Many frequent travelers have already adopted some of these ideas. I hope, if you haven’t, you might consider doing so.

Traveler Resolution #1 — skip the ice to chill your drink while traveling in foreign countries.

Most travelers, even ones who travel but once per year understand that waterborne illness can be a serious source of health problems. These illnesses include intestinal diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery. Just about everyone drinks only bottled water when traveling, especially out of their home country. Most travelers are even brush their teeth with bottled water.

Unfortunately, many travelers, however, forget that the ice they request for their soda, alcoholic beverage, or bottled water, is generally made from ordinary tap water at most locations. I’ve been on trips where I’ve seen travelers use ice to cool their bottled water, only to get sick soon after.

Traveler Resolution #2 — take at least one day per week to rest, relax, slow down, and rejuvenate yourself.

If you’re a twenty something, you might be able to skip this next one, but I suggest you don’t. Sometimes even seasoned travelers, like me, get “caught up” trying to extract something from each and every second of a trip, especially when it’s to a storied land.

Last year, I was on a fabulous two week Regent Seven Seas cruise in the Middle East. During the three week trip, I flew from the US to the Middle East and back, was off the ship touring morning to night, on thirteen of the fourteen day cruise, and out all day, each day, both before and after the cruise. I had just one day during the twenty-one day trip with any leisure time. It wasn’t enough. Throughout the trip I was constantly “on the go,” and was “dragging” by the time I went home. Take time to rest, it will immeasurably enhance your overall enjoyment of your travels.

Traveler Resolution #3 — pamper yourself, if you can afford it.

More and more the airlines are reducing the seat pitch and recline of the economy seats in their planes, crowding in as many seats as possible into the economy cabin and reducing its services “to the bone.” On long international flights the difference between business class seating and services compared to economy is startling. While business class seating is too expensive for the average air passenger to purchase outright, it’s possible to secure those “lie-flat” seats on the cheap.

Many travelers with lots of frequent flier miles, some obtained by flying, and many by airline credit card purchases, tend to use their miles to purchase economy seats to reduce travel costs. While it’s hard to argue with that strategy, I’ve got an alternate suggestion.

Instead of using your frequent flier miles to obtain economy tickets, purchase economy seating for your next international trip, then use your frequent flier miles to upgrade to business class seating and those marvelous “lie-flat” seats. You’ll arrive happier, well rested, and immediately ready to enjoy you trip. I think you’ll find the upgrade is very much worth the expense of purchasing the underlying ticket.

Traveler Resolution #4 — get out from behind your camera viewfinder or monitor and see the wonders to which you’ve traveled with your own eyes.

Digital photography has dramatically reduced travel photo costs by virtually eliminating the cost of processing your travel photographs. Today, most travelers post their keepsake photos in free online galleries for their family and friends to view, and never print any of their photos. More than ever before, everyone is documenting their travels with their digital camera, or even their smartphone or tablet.

As a professional photographer, I know what it is to make lots of travel photographs daily, during my travels. I see many travelers literally viewing their entire trip from behind their camera’s viewfinder or digital monitor. Last year at Petra, Jordan, I saw travelers who went from location to location taking photo after photo of this amazing ancient city, never once looking up from their cameras.

Take more than a few moments to actually view and experience your trip yourself. You’re wasting your time and money traveling if you’re only going to see the sites though digital “eyes.”

I wish for everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

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  • Anonymous

    Good advice, though #3 is easier said than done these days. Mileage upgrades are pretty heavily capacity controlled, and come with hefty co-pays to boot (or can only be obtained by purchasing an expensive full fare coach ticket). This is one of those cases where working with a TA might well be worth it, as they can sometimes access deep discount biz or first class fares that you otherwise can’t. Or try pressing your luck at check-in. My last couple of trips to Europe, the agent has offered to sell me an upgrade for $500.

  • Anonymous

    Some good suggestions Ned. Sometimes the rest and rejuvinate suggestion is hard for many of us to do when you have a limited time to see things you know you won’t get a chance to see ever again. How to balance this is tricky but certainly worth giving thought to in your trip planning. We fell victim to doing too much on our month long trip this past summer and overslept one morning, which was the day of the one outing I traveled 16 days and 16,000 miles to get to and at the last day of our time in that region. At least with an FIT trip, we were not holding anyone up which is something to think about on escorted trips that keep to a tight time schedule. If you aren’t a morning person, those 7am baggage calls, 8am breakfast times for an early morning departure each day can be tough.
    For a long time now, I have told clients that the best use of miles is for upgrading, but I learned a lesson a few years ago when we encountered an unscheduled aircraft change. When you upgrade using miles, you may not get that in that type of situation if they have to reaccommodate passengers and where to go for assistance can also be an issue. You technically are a coach passenger, with an upgraded seat. Sorta like an unwanted step child in this type of situation.
    The photo taking tip is one I learned years ago when filming my kids sports events. A lense has a narrow focus and you miss out on whte else is going on if you keep the camera to your eye, either too long or too often.

  • http://www.waterhabitatretreat.org/ Partha Mandal

    post but I don’t believe in taking resolutions while traveling and
    enjoyment :) …… But safety and some other important things as
    you mentioned always should keep in mind while traveling……….