Big plans in 2016: My travel resolutions

About eight months ago, I had a brilliant idea: Why not parlay my co-loves of travel and writing into a travel blog? Wow, how original, right? Little did I know that thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – of people were already doing just that.

 

Since starting my blog, nearandfaraz, in May 2015, I have explored countless travel blogs, and drooled over endless accounts of trips to stunning destinations. I’ve also taken a few trips of my own – most notably, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, Sonoma, Big Sur, Zion National Park, Seattle, and Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.

 

I’ve had a blast – both on the trips, on which I’ve given my iPhone a workout on more than 150 Instagram shots and hundreds of tweets; and later, at home, while writing my blog posts.

 

To commemorate my first half-year of travel blogging, as well as the start of a whole new year (YAY, 2016!), I decided to come up with my big-10 travel and blogging resolutions for the coming year. Here goes:

 1.

Follow the lead of so many of the intrepid young bloggers I’ve read recently, and plan a completely solo foreign trip. I’ve dabbled a bit by spending a few days alone in Hong Kong last year, and then by taking a mostly solo road trip from my home in Arizona to my son’s wedding in Sonoma, California. I’ve loved the freedom of being solo, and I really want to experience the feeling of setting off alone for a big destination, and returning solo. I’m thinking Eastern Europe!

 

2.

Indulge my interest in cooking by taking a class in a foreign destination. I learned while I was in Hong Kong that a cooking class can serve double duty – both in the experience of shopping and cooking in an unfamiliar and exotic setting, as well as in the interaction with local residents. Perhaps some Polish or Czech cooking is in my future?

 

3.

Continue my education in blogging. When I started out, I knew virtually nothing about the world of blogging, and it’s been a steep learning curve. I’ve been helped tremendously by my tech-savvy son and by blogging friends, but I realize I still have a long way to go. Sometime in the next year, I plan to take an actual course in blogging and SEO strategy!

 

4.

Take advantage of long weekends to do shorter trips to places around the American Southwest. The point of my blog, nearandfaraz, is that I love to explore my home state and the rest of the Four-Corners area (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico), as well as more far-flung locales. I made it to nearby spots such as Sedona, Arizona, and Utah’s Zion National Park this year, and they were amazing. I definitely need to do more of that in 2016. I have my eye on New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument.

 

IMG_0415

Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, Arizona

5.

Reach out to collaborate with a fellow travel blogger. This one won’t be easy for me. My main excuse: I’m too small; they won’t be interested. I guess I won’t know until I try!

 

6.

Return to my family roots. When I was a young college student years ago, I joined my sister on a visit to my father’s relatives in Norway. As a first-generation American, my dad had always known of his Norwegian family, but had never visited. When my sister and I traveled to Oslo, we were warmly welcomed by our Norwegian cousins. Sadly, we lost touch through the years. I intend to change that.

 

7.

Shun airport food. This one is wrapped up with the usual New Year’s resolutions about eating healthier. After I recently skipped lunch before leaving Seattle, and then scarfed a Starbucks chocolate-chip cookie while waiting for my bags at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, I decided that I need to plan better. Next time: Stock up on some healthy local snacks before I leave Seattle!

 

8.

Continue my roll on visiting U.S. National Parks. Over the past year, I’ve visited the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, and Zion. All amazing! In the next year, I have my sights set on Glacier National Park in Montana, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota (along with a few returns to the Grand Canyon, of course).

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Angels Landing, Zion National Park

9.

Learn the ins and outs of the airline points I’ve accumulated over the past year or so. I know from reading so many of the travel blogs out there that there’s an art to knowing which credit cards to get, and how to use the points once you get them. Hopefully, success in this area will help with several of the previous goals!

 

10.

And finally, I resolve to live even more in the moment while I’m traveling. Sometimes, it seems that I’m looking ahead to the next attraction, restaurant, or hike so much that I forget that where I am is pretty awesome as well. I need to constantly remind myself that even the little travel experiences can turn out to be worthwhile.

 

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