My 2014 New Year’s Resolutions in Travel

Every year around this time I find myself posting the same things as the year before.  If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you’ve probably noticed as much.  But believe me, there’s a method to my madness.  The reason I do this is because I think there’s so much importance in both reflection and resolution.

In reflecting on the year past, as I did in posting my favourite travel photos from 2013 and I’ll do in this post, you get a sense of where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.  Living your own life, it’s easy not to see the progress and change.  It’s kind of like growing up.  As you age, you never really see the change.  However, if you’ve ever not seen a family member in a couple months, you might see them and think “wow, they’ve grown/changed so much.”  Growth is a transition that you can’t see without reflection.  Reflecting on the year’s events really does remind you how long ago one year was.

2014 New Year's Resolutions

Last year this day I was here, in Burkina Faso.

In resolution, we can look back on our reflections and see the things we need to fix, adjust, or add to our lives.  New Year’s resolutions, as cliche as they may be, offer the perfect opportunity to force yourself to create goals.  Furthermore, when it comes to any goal-making, I feel it so important to post these things in a public place so you can be kept accountable for them.  Then, in a year’s time go back to that place and re-visit your resolutions and find out what you made good on and what you didn’t.

This post, is that public place for me.  I’ve been doing this for years, and I love how effective it’s been.  So I’m going to let it roll for another year.  First things first, let’s evaluate last year’s New Year’s resolutions.

Reflection on 2013 New Year’s Resolutions

  • Speak the Local Language More:  I’d say this was a success, but it was also a bit of failure.  In Africa, I spoke all the colonial languages, so speaking with the locals was easy.  If I was in a country long enough I would learn the slang, and please and thank yous in some of the tribal tongues as well.  This year again, it’s something I have to build on.
  • Work out at least 3 Times a Week: HA! Not even close.  It’s been hard, and I think nearly starving to death in Africa made things worse.  I’ve gotten a bit fat, and this will likely be on the docket again this year.
  • Contact Relatives more Often: I was better, much better than in the past.  I sent postcards to family members and was really good at emailing people.  Even in the depths of Central Africa I managed.  I am proud of the progress I made here and I will continue building on this.
  • Make it to Cape Town: I did it.  I f**cking did it!
  • Meet my Niece and Nephew: I did, and they were maybe the cutest people I’ve ever met in my life.  If you don’t believe in love at first sight, you’ve never met new family members in the flesh and blood.  I’m so proud to be an uncle to these beautiful kids.
  • Find a Home for Vagabundo Magazine: I think the thing I found for Vagabundo is that our home is on the road.  We need to be smarter about where we go, since we need the internet, but I’ve definitely started carving out a groove.  What’s even better is that the Vagabundo crew is almost starting to meld into a family which is awesome and an added bonus.
  • Take Fewer Pictures: I did very well on this one.  I worried much less about taking pictures this year, and spent more time enjoying the moment and immersing myself in travel.  Actually, I think I could have taken the camera out more this year.  However, it was much better than the year before where I was shooting photos constantly.

Conclusions on 2013?

Really, the only thing I failed at was working out.  It was hard to do in Africa, but that is an excuse.  All I need to do is fall to the ground and do some push-ups or sit-ups, but I always seem to make excuses.  This year, I will make an effort to change that.

All-in-all, I’m very happy with the progress I made through my New Year’s resolutions.  I look back and see how I’ve improved at many things I would have liked, and I really did grow a lot.

2014 New Year's Resolutions

One year later, I’m here in Bali, Indonesia. Between I was in 26 countries on 4 different continents. A lot happens in a year as a traveller.

My 2014 New Year’s Resolutions

  • Get fit Again: This is really the only carry-over from last year.  People always say that as soon as you hit 30 the fat starts to stick on.  Well, it happened to me at 29.  However, considering I have done nearly no physical activity in a year, I’m not doing so bad.  I’m going to try and do a little bit of exercise every day this year, even if that just means a set of 50 push-ups.
  • Eat more Street Food: So far in Indonesia I’ve been good at this.  However, last year in Africa I spent far too many meals sitting in French restaurants when I could have been out on the street with the locals.  And honestly, it doesn’t have anything to do with the food.  Eating at street stalls gives you a good chance for interaction with local people, as I’ve found out almost every evening here in Bali.
  • Be a Better Brother: Of all my family members, the relationship that comes most naturally is that with my brother.  Though we are so different in so many way, we have similar personalities and click.  That might not seem like a problem, but when you have a strong natural relationship with someone, you often forget to nurture that one.  This year, I’ll try to be a better brother.
  • Be a Better Uncle: The hardest thing about travelling is not getting to see my niece and nephew grow up in person.  It’s hard being an uncle from afar, and hopefully I don’t miss the chance to watch them grow into slightly bigger people.  I’d like to think I was an OK uncle last year, but this year I want to do as much as I can to make sure I’m a positive influence on them.
  • Get Deeper into the Culture: I’ve always had a hard time getting into the local cultures for some reason.  I’m completely game to play along, but I think I fall into the trap too often of hooking on with other travellers rather than locals.  This year, I really want to make a deeper connection with the cultures of the places I go.
  • Waste Less / Consume Less: Being in Bali has been an eye-opener.  This week, Kuta beach has looked like a trash dump.  The beach itself has garbage on it, but the sea is saturated with chip bags, plastic, and cups.  Now, it’s easy to say “this is disgusting” and move on to somewhere cleaner.  It takes a stronger person to realize that you’re a part of the problem and realize how much of that garbage you are creating yourself.  This year, I really hope to create less waste and consume less.
  • Re-Visit Old Destinations: I’ve always followed the adage of “new is always better“, however I’m starting to feel the draw of some old destinations.  Towards the end of 2014 I’m going to have the chance to get back to some old destinations.  I’m looking forward to seeing what has changed, what’s still there, and how I can dig deeper into these familiar places.

What are your 2014 New Year’s Resolutions?


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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18 Comments

  1. Great post, Brendan! I’m inspired to publish my own resolutions and hold myself accountable in this fashion too. (Except, I don’t normally make resolutions. Maybe I should resolve to start!)

    Your resolutions about wasting/consuming less and getting deeper into the culture resonate with me.
    In my style of travel, I find it much easier to get into the local culture if I stay away from hostels (hence, no “safety net” of fellow travelers to hang on to). Opportunities like house-sitting and volunteering in trade for accommodation allow me to stay much longer in a place, and to integrate and experience a slice of “local life”.

    As for wasting/consuming less, I learned first-hand how much you can reduce your waste when I volunteered in Hawaii (six years ago) at a totally ecologically sustainable place. It was a hard life, but I learned a lot. Since then, I’ve had trouble in places where garbage is strewn everywhere, recycling is non-existent, and power and water is wasted. At the same time, it’s a slippery slope, and very difficult to exert the extra effort to “do your part” in the face of waste all around you.

    Good luck with your resolutions, and may 2014 be big and bright!

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    • I love that you want to be a great uncle to your niece and nephew! As you travel, look for things for them – hand-crafted toys are awesome – it will open your eyes to another part of each country’s culture. It gives you something to talk tothelocals about, and can help their economy a little. It will also likely inspire your niece and nephew to be bitten by the travel bug as well! I still have a wooden doll that my grandfather brought me from Ethiopia. It was one of the first things that really made me want to see the world.

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      • Good advice Charmagne, getting gifts and toys for them abroad is something I really should do more often. If only I were home more often to deliver them!

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    • Thanks for the comment Nora!
      Yeah, you’re very right on all your points. I wish I had the chance to stay longer in places this year, but I’m really in a hurry to get back to a buddy’s wedding. I’ll have to find other ways.
      Also, as to wasting, I totally agree. In Haiti I was at a compound that was self-sustaining and realized how much work is involved in reducing waste, but how possible it is to reduce the impact.
      Anyways, have a nice 2014!

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  2. Loved the honesty in this post about resolutions.Some resolutions you ,resonate with me too.Inspired by them and wishing you a resolute 2014 ahead.

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    • Thans Hitesh, all the best in the new year!

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    • Haha, priority #1. I just didn’t want our bromance to take over he blogsphere.

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  3. My New Year resolutions are to publish at least a post a week on my blog (I have a full time job as well) and to do a web design course part time – I would love to live a ‘location independent’ lifestyle!

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    • Some good stuff! Once a week is a really nice start!

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  4. I did not create New Years Resolutions, instead I created Bali Resolutions, now that we are living here. One of mine is also to keep in touch with people more, like you had in 2013. So far, not so good, and it is only 5 days in!

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    • Uh, already breaking the resolutions 5 days in! Hahah, just kidding, all the best in 2014.

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  5. My resolution is to slow down. I nearly burned myself out in my first 10 months of travel and I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I could have. Nora Dunn’s article about Travel Fatigue really resonated with me. This is my goal for the coming year.
    And being a more communicative family member and friend – always something to work on.
    Happy New Year!

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    • Something I need to do too, Laura. However, as soon as I look at all the cool things I’ve yet to see, it’s hard for me not to race after them.
      All the best in 2014!

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  6. Great post, very candid. I was disgusted when I was in Kuta too but I like the observation you made that we are all a part of the problem, its always all to easy to blame everyone else. Good luck achieving your goals! Peace and happy travels :)

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    • Yup, Ele. I was just thinking of tourists sitting there eating ice cream talking about how much garbage there is on the beach. I just don’t think people realize where all their plastic and garbage goes.
      All the best in 2014?

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  7. What an uplifting yet realistic blog! I can relate to most everything your wrote and offer my encouragement as you strive to meet your 2014 resolutions! It amused me to read how you’ve grown and still realize you have a ways to go, as all of us do. I appreciate your honesty and humility and above all, the easy way you make me feel that it’s ok to not be there yet, whatever the goal. I especially want to push you to exercise every day, as you plan. Out of 24 hours, you can find at least 20 min to do it. The days will turn into weeks and months and this time next year you will feel great about your body and your body will feel great! Good luck and best wishes and keep writing..I need the amusement! Lol
    Trish

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for the comment and encouragement, Trish. I really appreciate it. All the best in 2014!

      Post a Reply

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