I learn something new every time I travel. I’ve also been challenged a lot, whether it’s getting lost in Monaco or trying to order dinner in Italy, but I always walk away stronger and more confident. Here’s some goals I’ve set for myself over the years and encourage everyone to attempt as well.
- Do something that scares you.
Whether it’s bungee jumping in Costa Rica or speaking a few words of French to the shopkeeper next time you’re in Paris, challenge yourself. You’ll only get stronger from it and realize your fear probably wasn’t as bad as you thought.
- Travel alone.
We tend to do what our travel companions want to do and compromise what we really want to do sometimes. Go on a trip by yourself and spend the day getting lost in a new city. You’ll learn to really appreciate simple things like the smell of fresh bread from the Austrian bakery or the fresh noodles in Thailand.
- Just go.
If you’ve said for years that you’ve been meaning to visit New York, or wanting to see where your ancestors are from in Europe, stop making excuses and start making a plan. Travel can be expensive, but at least sit down and start planning out how much you would need to save each month to make that dream trip, even if it’s years away.
- Learn a new language.
You don’t have to become fluent in a language, but next time you’re traveling to a different country, attempt to learn the basic phrases there. The locals will appreciate your effort, and you’ll be surprised at how rewarding it feels when you can successfully communicate a phrase in another language.
Spend your time helping others who are less fortunate. While it can be as simple as helping out at the food bank in your home town, see what’s available in the areas you’re traveling to. There’s everything from helping build houses to rehabbing injured or abused animals. Just make sure you research the organization before going.
- Pursue your passion.
Have you always wanted to become a certified scuba diving instructor? Become fluent in Japanese? Now’s the time to start! Take the first step and research how to start today.
- Start up a conversation with a local.
While the language barrier can be intimidating, you’ll learn way more from talking to your waiter in Athens or the baker in Japan than just sticking to “touristy” places. When I went to Italy, I wanted to know where the locals would eat instead of having “Americanized” food (like the Olive Garden). Asking around took me to family-owned, hole in the walls that ended up being some of the best food I had the whole trip. If the restaurant is filled with locals in whatever town you’re in, that’s usually a good sign.
- Pack your bags and set off for a random location with no itinerary.
If you’re from America with a regular 9-to-5 job, you’re probably used to working hard just to have a small amount of time off per year. When we do get our precious vacation, we tend to jam pack our vacation with as many items as possible so as to not “miss out” on anything. Why not pick a location and not make a plan next time? I guarantee you’ll actually see much more than if you had stuck to a busy schedule, and discover some new places along the way.
- Live in a different country for at least six months.
I know many people who have gone to Germany once for a week and claim they know it like the back of their hand, but you really have to spend an extended period of time to understand the culture. Not only is it a great way to learn a new language (you’re forced to learn quickly if you want to get around well), you’ll start to observe how the locals act. What does everyone do on Sundays? How are holidays celebrated? What’s the local wine of choice? It’s simple things like these that you can’t understand until you spend a decent amount of time in one place.
- Make a bucket list for yourself.
Writing goals down is the first step to achieving them. It may take you 10 or even 50 years, but have clear, defined goals of what you want to accomplish. Do you want to see the Northern Lights? Go on an Africa Safari? Make a list now to inspire yourself to complete all the amazing experiences you want to do in your lifetime, and get started on checking them off one at a time.
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