It’s that time of year again. January has rolled around, and it's time to think about setting goals for the coming twelve months. Here at Rough Guides we're naturally focused on travel. Not settled on your new year resolutions yet? These are our top ten suggestions.
Go somewhere new each month
Travel isn’t just about taking big trips. Sure, we all dream about picking up a backpack or suitcase and heading off for months on end – but the most rewarding travel experiences aren’t always the grandest. Think about where a budget flight could get you for a weekend, take that road-trip you’ve been wondering about and don’t overlook places closer to home.
Take a second-city break
From Delhi to London, capital cities tend to hog all the limelight. And with that comes higher prices, bigger crowds and more touristy attractions. Second cities can be just as fascinating and cosmopolitan as their larger counterparts, and often offer much better value for money. We’ve run down our favourite second cities – including Shanghai, Glasgow, Barcelona and Porto – to get you started.
Join the sharing economy
This year is going to be all about personal experiences. Instead of booking a chain hotel, try being hosted in a local’s home with Couchsurfing or Airbnb. Rather than eating in an overpriced restaurant, search out the latest supper-clubs or arrange a home-cooked dinner via a community like EatWith. And, finally, forgo that group tour for a personalised approach: companies like Vayable will hook you up with local guide.
Everyone loves a party. In 2015, think about booking a trip to coincide with a world-class festival or an unforgettable carnival. There's something for everyone, too, from the extravagance of Kerala's Thrissur Puram, Rio's Carnaval and Sydney's Mardi Gras to more sedate affairs like the Sapporo Snow Festival, Semana Santa in Spain and the Hay Festival in Wales. The tomato-throwing madness of La Tomatina, however, remains one of our all-time favourites.
Carbon offset your flights
According to the UN-run IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we’re on track to make “long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system” unless we change our ways. Air travel isn’t the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions by any means, but we can do something to counteract its effects. Numerous organizations and airlines will help you carbon offset your flights, ploughing the money into conservation projects and renewable energy initiatives.
Seek out unusual accommodation
Has picking a hostel or hotel become more of a chore than a delight? Shake off accommodation ennui by stepping outside of your comfort zone. From tree-houses to undersea resorts, there’s a world of unusual options out there. We’ve got some ideas to get you started, too: live like an Airbnb king in one of these magical getaways, branch out at a British B&B or spend a night in one of the world’s weirdest hotels.
If you’ve never travelled alone before, this is the year to try it. There are numerous benefits to hitting the road solo: freedom, independence and more chances to engage with locals to name but a few. Don’t be daunted, read our top ten tips for solo travel and get advice from other travellers on the Rough Guides Community.
Broaden your palate
Sometimes meals can be the most memorable part of a holiday, but it's easy to stick within your comfort zone. On your next trip, make an effort to try something new each day. We're not just talking fried locusts and century eggs – try the dish on the menu you can't translate or buy your lunch from street food stalls rather than a restaurant. From bunny chow to halo-halo, there are a ton of new flavours to discover.
These days there's a whole host of travel apps and start-ups trying to make your life easier. And if you're savvy about roaming charges, there's no reason ingenious apps like CityMapper, HotelTonight and Uber can't enrich your trip. Ready to jump in at the deep end? This is also the year to test out virtual reality travel with the Oculus Rift or venture into the world of wearable tech with the Apple Watch or Google Glass.
Learn a language
There's no better time than January to start learning a language, whether you choose to build your skills online or enrol in a local course. According to the British Council, just “five or ten phrases will enable most people to navigate many countries at a basic level” – barely a lifetime of learning – while “1000 words can be enough to feel autonomous, confident and secure in another country and brings some cultural understanding".