The best travel new year’s resolutions

NYE could just be the beginning of your next set of adventures (Getty Images)
NYE could just be the beginning of your next set of adventures (Getty Images)

It’s that time of year again: when we all write down our best intentions for the year ahead (safe in the knowledge that at least of half of them will have fallen by the wayside by the first week of January).

But when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, it doesn’t have to be all marathon lists of rigorous self-improvement.

We can also set ourselves fun challenges or ambitions, especially when it comes to travel - such as exploring new places, getting to know destinations on our doorsteps a bit better with a deep dive, or finding different ways of transporting ourselves across the globe.

On The Independent’s travel desk, we’ve set ourselves the task of coming up with the travel-related resolutions we’re going to do our best to adhere to in 2024.

Looking for inspiration? Feel free to join us in our pledges for the next 12 months – or come up with some travel goals of your own.

Read more on travel inspiration:

Make the most of the journey: Simon Calder, travel correspondent

The turn of the year is a time for retrospection: learning from the past as you look to the future. Compared with my bright young colleagues, I have a somewhat longer personal travel history in which to delve. In particular, 2024 marks half a century since I first went further west than Cornwall and Ireland. The destination: California. The means: the cheapest possible ticket between the UK and North America, which happened to be to Montreal on the now-defunct Belgian airline, Sabena, together with a pair of one-week Greyhound bus passes. Unlike today’s 11-hour flight from London to Los Angeles, that great continent was gradually revealed to me from the endless plains in the east, threading through the Rocky Mountains and across the desert to the promised Pacific shore – while meeting a succession of welcoming strangers who unlocked their corner of this new world. Coming home through the deep south of the US, I paused in cities and towns and learnt infinitely more about this patchwork of humanity than ever I could when gazing from an aircraft window. I won’t be repeating the road trips in 2024, and I will still be taking advantage of the widest horizons in aviation history. But for a summer trip to the Greek islands, for example, I resolve to fly in one direction and return slowly, curiously through still-strange and wonderful lands.

Going flight-free for 2024: Helen Coffey, travel editor

So, this isn’t a new one for me; I’ve been making the same New Year’s Resolution since 2020, when I first decided to take a year off flying in response to the climate crisis. If I complete 2024 without hopping on a plane, it will mark five full years without taking a single flight – something I never would have thought possible back in 2019, especially for a travel editor. But I’ve discovered two things over the course of my ongoing flight-free journey. 1) Slow travel – by train, bus, ferry, coach, bike and my own two legs – is a hugely enjoyable experience, where the journey becomes an integral and glorious part of your trip. It’s infinitely more rewarding than the usual stress-filled aviation experience, allowing the traveller to relax, slow down, see the world go by and actually get a sense of the distance travelled. And 2) now, more than ever, we need to be rethinking our emissions-heavy travel habits and flying less wherever possible. Air travel is already back to pre-pandemic levels, with international travel trips expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2024 by 3 per cent and surpass two billion for the second time ever. For those of us privileged enough to travel regularly, swapping flying for overland transport is one of the most impactful ways of slashing our carbon footprints.

Is 2024 your year for swapping short-haul flights for slow travel? (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Is 2024 your year for swapping short-haul flights for slow travel? (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Staying local(ish): Benjamin Parker, deputy travel editor

This feels like a pandemic throwback – remember the debates over the definition of ‘staycation’? – but I’m going to make an extra effort to have fun exploring without straying too far from home. This is heavily influenced by the imminent arrival of a lovely baby boy, which is likely to curtail international swashbuckling for the time being. But it is also a great chance to recapture that enthusiasm for the UK that many (including myself) found – then quickly paused – during the time Covid halted overseas holidays. I want to spend time in the cities that have never seemed exotic enough compared to European counterparts (I’m looking at you, Leeds), to climb the hills I’ve seen in pictures but never set foot on, stroll the streets I usually ignore. It doesn’t mean I won’t be going abroad, with plans already in place for a hop over to France in the summer, but having just read Peter Ross’ brilliant A Tomb With a View, my first days out will be discovering London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries. If anyone has any other suggestions (especially pushchair-friendly ones), I’m all ears...

Lightweight luggage: Natalie Wilson, junior travel writer

My ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach to packing has firmly cemented me as the prepared friend, complete with plasters and a portable charger – but it’s time I hung back up my spare hoodie and started lightening my travel load. Albeit largely influenced by my screaming bank account at check-in, I could do without the holiday shopping stress for seven perfectly curated outfits pre-airport – obviously all white and blue if I’m heading to Greece – that I will never wear again. Having taken to suitcase sharing on girls’ holidays this year to scrimp an extra £50 for boat trips, street food tours and actually experiencing the destination, the concept of compromise has finally been introduced to my holiday wardrobe. Apparently, I don’t need 10 bikinis for a five-day trip. Revolutionary. Who knows, maybe I’ll even take to the skies with just the bag on my back in 2024... You win, Ryanair.

Take in the towns less-travelled: Chris Wilson, junior travel writer

Even as one of the most tourist-centric places in the world, Europe has managed to hide some fascinating, under-the-radar gems. The second cities, lesser-visited capitals and provincial towns have caught my attention, ones that have a culture and history you hear much less about. My resolution is to visit more of these types of destinations in 2024 to find out what sets them apart, whether that’s a particular cultural festival – such as Krampusnacht in Salzburg, Austria – or just a picturesque setting and Christmas markets in somewhere like Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. Perhaps this year I discover new places on a flight-free interrail tour of northern and eastern Europe; I definitely know how to plan an intriguing route after writing about some of the best last year.

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