In May of 2011, we began our second around-the-world trip. Now almost eight months in, the New Year has begun, and it seems like a good time to look both back and forward.
While we both believe that resolutions that are too broad are doomed to fail, specific goals aid in planning and act as reminders of why we are traveling in the first place. A number of the resolutions below have been in place since before we began this trip. The more specific ones are what we hope to accomplish in 2012.
1. Learn numbers and at least basic pleasantries everywhere.
We’ve been more successful in some places than others, but this is an important one. A little but of effort goes a long way. People everywhere really seem to appreciate even the most basic attempts to communicate in the local language. For us, Bhasa Indonesia seemed the easiest to absorb, while tonal languages like Chinese and Thai were super difficult. Having just arrived in India, we have our work cut out for us.
2. Ride a bike in every country we visit.
Traveling slow has been a theme, and the slower we go, the slower we want to go. Cycling gets you much further than walking, while still being gentle on the environment. You can’t help but get up close to the people, places and things you’re trying to discover. Even getting lost often results in chance meetings with new friends in spots you never would have found on a tour or on motorized transport.
3. Eat street food in India.
It can be scary. It can be intimidating. It is ultimately rewarding. For most, it takes a while to warm up to the idea of buying something from a cart or stall on a busy city street, but no one said you have to leap right in and bite the head off a scorpion. There always plenty of items in the yummy yet harmless pancake, fritter, dumping category. Start with some of those, and you really can’t go wrong. Our favorite street food so far was in Thailand! What will our first bite of India’s street food be?
4. Meet family for the first time.
Arriving in Adelaide, Australia a couple of years ago we were met at the airport by a group of the friendliest folks you’d ever want to meet, and they just happened to be my family. My father’s mother’s sister was close to 90, and it was the first time we’d met. This sweet lady was accompanied by several of my 2nd cousins and their families. Cousin Jean (whose mother we were also able to meet) and her husband put us up for a week+ in their home and were amazing hosts. In England and Scotland I have more cousins I look forward to spending time getting to know. Shake your family tree and you may be surprised at all the new connections to be made.
One of our best travel memories is volunteering for English conversation practice with students of the Big Brother Mouse project in Laos. Opportunities to get involved abound, and can be just as rewarding for the volunteer as those receiving the help. Whether its working with kids, helping to clean up after a disaster, lending a hand to build or rebuild, or planting a garden, it’s satisfying on a most basic level to help others when you can.
6. Get together with friends we’ve met while traveling, in their home country.
You never know who you might meet on the road, but the shared experience of travel often forges lasting friendships. We met Fred from Belgium and Kadir from Southern India in Laos, Oliver from Germany in China, Charlotte from France in Indonesia. In 2012 our best bet may be seeing Pam from Scotland who we met in Zambia!
7. Continue to Couchsurf.
This program connects travelers who really want to meet people from the places they visit with those who really want to share their homes with travelers. We are huge fans of the concept and have had awesome experiences so far. The hosts we stayed with in Japan made our visit to their cities something really special, introducing us to places, food and hospitality you just can’t find in a hotel or hostel.
8. See a whale shark
You’ve got to dream. This one will remain on the list until it happens. We dive every chance we get, and one day we will be in the right place at just the right time.
BootsnAll has an inspiring list HERE. Take a look and pack your bags!