With the New Year comes the ability to make a fresh start. Take this opportunity to set new goals for yourself and to come up with different ways to continue to better yourself as an individual. A resolution that is gaining more and more popularity every year is the resolution to travel more.  Whether that means going overseas for the first time or exploring everything that’s right at your backdoor, we want to give you some amazing and achievable travel goals that we can all strive for in 2019.

Discover what’s just outside your front door

More often than not, people focus on going to destinations that are outside of their own city, but how many of us have actually taken the time to explore where we live? Maybe you live in New York City but have never actually been to the Statue of Liberty? Maybe you haven’t been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial but you live in Honolulu. While it’s cool to see your own city the way that tourists do, you can also explore the local sights such as your city library, seeing a movie at an independent theatre, or checking out the eccentric coffee shop right around the corner from your house. Dedicate some time in 2019 to actually explore what’s already right outside your front door!

Friends pose for a photo in front of the Golden Gate Bridge on their summer teen tour of San Francisco, California.

Cross state lines

When people think of travel, they often dream of distant places and exotic lands. As an American, it’s easy to forget how amazing and diverse the United States can be! Marvel at the beauty of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, hit up the beaches in Florida, see the Santa Monica Pier lit up at night, and chow on homemade gumbo in Louisiana. There are so many incredible regions, cities, and national parks in the U.S. to see and some of them might even be just a stone’s throw away!

Teens enjoy epic views of the Grand Canyon during their summer travel program in Arizona.

Start checking off your bucket list

We all have a bucket list. Even if you’ve never given it any real thought, there are things that each of us hope to accomplish during our lives. Maybe it’s watching the sun rise over the ocean in Tanzania or learning to cook paella like a pro in Spain. No matter what is on your list, figure out a way to check off at least one travel related item not just this year, but every year! I guarantee that you will feel more confident tackling everything else that you hope to do too!

High school student feeds an elephant on their teen tour to Thailand

Make the old feel new again

We all learn something new every time that we travel to a new place, but we learn even more when we go there a second time. The first visit is usually about seeing the important sites and getting a vibe for what the place is like. Did you like that vibe? If you did, then why not go back a second time? The second or even third time you visit makes it a lot easier to focus on enjoying the little things that you might not have noticed the first time, like a beautiful vineyard or a hidden street café. So don’t let focusing on the new get in the way of revisiting the old ever again!

Remember: travel is not a competition

Avoid the temptation to want to check off as many places on your travel list as possible. When we get caught up in the numbers game of who’s been to the most places, we lose sight of what traveling is really all about, which is living in the moment and embracing each new destination. The traveler whose main goal is to check off as many places as possible probably won’t have a full appreciation for each place they visited and they certainly won’t go back to those places to get to know them even better (see number 4). The savvy traveler knows the benefits of spending that little bit of extra time getting to appreciate each destination and going back a second time to discover more of it. So instead of only focusing on filling up your passport before your friends, focus on getting to know each place and encouraging others to take their time discovering new places too.

High school students adventure on sand dunes in Fiji during their summer program

Do something that scares you

We’ve all heard it time and time again: try something new even if it scares you. And you know what? That is some of the best advice you could possibly put into action! Pushing beyond your comfort zone is a big part of growing as an individual, and travel provides opportunities galore for this. Are you afraid of heights and happen to be going to Switzerland? Why not give paragliding a go? Does the mere thought of great white sharks make you break into a nervous sweat? Then go shark cage diving in South Africa to help alleviate those fears. Maybe you’re an extremely picky eater but are visiting France for the first time. Make it a point to try some escargot (you can thank us later)! Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to surf but were afraid of looking silly. Well, you won’t look so silly once you’re catching those waves!

High school teens pose while scuba diving in Fiji on their summer high school program.

Be a traveler, not a tourist

If you only take one resolution from this list, we hope that this is the one. Traveling is not about visiting all of the famous sites and monuments that the tourists love so much. It is WAY more than that. Take time to learn about what the locals do, and do it too. Don’t eat at a place just because it received 5 stars on Trip Advisor. Instead, ask the locals about their favorite place to eat, go there, and try their top recommendations from the menu. Explore, get lost, and never be afraid to stray from the guide books. Just because you’ve been given a “top ten” list of necessary sites and activities to see and do doesn’t mean that it’s a requirement. Take a cooking lesson, spend time helping local children, wander around an old neighborhood, find somewhere off the beaten path, and above all else, pride yourself in being a real traveler who lives in the moment no matter where in the world you might find yourself.

France Paris teen travel