Setting Travel Intentions for the New Year

In this season of intention-setting, I’ve been contemplating how to make the most of my travel in 2023. Here are the three big takeaways I’m carrying with me into the new year, and some resources if you’d like to follow along with me.

Igniting wanderlust, even from the couch

Shopping around for trips can be titillating. And with all the amazing opportunities and rich webinars, it’s easy to poke around the W&A website and get inspired. It’s wonderful to imagine yourself standing in a street market in Morocco or driving the curving roads of Cicily. But with so many options, what can help you make a choice on where to go, and how long to stay?

Ragusa, Sicily
Ragusa, Sicily

Hearing other people’s stories is what helps me most. And nothing ignites my own sense of wanderlust like a well written narrative. Though fiction can easily scratch that itch (I am one of many hooked on Scotland after reading the Outlander series), I am especially moved by compelling travel writing. 

Eat, Pray, Love will likely always be a favorite travel memoire of mine. If you haven’t followed Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 story through Italy, India, and Indonesia, I’ll be blunt: You’re missing out.

But for fresher reading, the best travel writing of 2022 is likely The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World. Author Jessica Nabongo traveled to all 195 countries, writing about each place and its people. A perfect read for anyone dreaming of adventure but confined to their home for the season.

Another great one, especially if you’re intrigued by exploring the lesser-visited areas of Europe and the Middle East, is Rebecca Lowe’s The Slow Road to Tehran. Her story of road-biking on her beloved bike “Maud” through Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and the Gulf is informative, funny, and full of curiosity about the cultures she passes through along the way.

Ayvalik, Turkey
Ayvalik, Turkey

Though many of us would love to travel and explore most of the year round, our lives can’t often accommodate it. So, as you decide between getaway options, feed your daydreams with a novel or a travel writing piece set in your travel fantasy-land. 

Immersion

Once the destination becomes clear—the decision’s made or the deposit is placed, my intention is to go all in. With excitement and hope I’ll read what I can about the place in novels or travel guides. Find documentaries about the native ecosystems, watch snippets about different areas of the economy. 

One of my favorite places to learn about countries’ economies and niche artisans is Business Insider’s fabulous mini documentaries. From it, I’m now dead-set on trying fresh wasabi in Japan, finding books bound with traditionally-made paper in Vietnam, and eating authentic, hand-ground Mexican mole

If you’re a polyglot or a hopeful linguist, hop on a podcast or app to try out the new language. DuoLingo is a popular app that most of us are familiar with, which gamifies language learning. But if you want to try out a language they don’t offer, Ling fills many of their gaps. If you’re less app-oriented or prefer listening, I can’t speak highly enough about the “Coffee Break” series of podcasts. They have an array of languages and will get you to a functional baseline for conversation in no time.

"Hello" in different languages
“Hello” in different languages

Appreciating the here and now

My last intention for travel in 2023 is to be as present as possible here and now. I’ve written about my love of researching and daydreaming, but it’s equally as important for me to appreciate where I am now.

Being present in the familiar or even mundane realms of home and habit, I allow myself to bring my full presence to the excitement of travel and exploration. The most impactful moments of travel are when I connect with a new person, immersed in a wholly different culture and life than my own, and see them in their quotidian. 

Later, when I’ve settled back home, I’ll be sweeping the kitchen and think of them in theirs, doing the same. Or I remember a flavorful meal overseas and become inspired recreate it in my own kitchen. We integrate these voyages into our being and our lives. We often leave to gain perspective on the greater world, but a subtler gift of travel is our refreshed view of the everyday once we land back in our “normal” lives.

As we rebound from the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s difficult at times to feel safe planning and hoping. Freedom to fantasize about exploration got us through our roughest years. We regained our bearings and rebuilt our confidence in adventure in 2022, and 2023 is now the year of renewed hope. I hope these intentions and resources help you foster excitement as we move into a travel-filled year.

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