Five travel resolutions to improve your holidays this year

people passing through shibuya pass in tokyo - Batchelder / Alamy Stock Photo

people passing through shibuya pass in tokyo – Batchelder / Alamy Stock Photo

The month of January has come, and with it the semi-serious promises to make a serious lifestyle change. Yes, you can do intermittent fasting or cut down on expensive lunches, but there are many New Year’s resolutions that are actually pretty fun and will improve your travel experience in the process.

Maybe you were frightened by the idea of ​​boarding a plane for your summer vacation in 2022, or you felt like spending a day by the pool was out of the question because of a lifetime fear of water. Maybe you just couldn’t bear the thought of speaking anything but English. Fortunately, there are solutions for all these worries and more – so set a new year travel resolution to enhance your 2023 getaways.

Fight your fear of flying

The fear of flying may not actually be as simple as being afraid of getting on a plane. As Dave Smithson of Anxiety UK puts it, aerophobia is essentially “fear of a catastrophic event, contracting an illness, being confined to a confined space, lack of access to medical care, extreme turbulence, being high in the air, or simply embarrassing oneself in front of other passengers.” This is a list that can be pretty tough to tackle, but for those who want to beat them, there are a number of options available, from self-help courses to clinical hypnotherapy.

The latter can be particularly transformative, according to Smithson. “Therapy teaches you to put yourself into a state of deep relaxation so you can ease your emotions during the flight.”

For something more intense, airlines offer courses for anxious customers. Beginning with lectures in a conference room, the courses take the nervous traveler through check-in, security and eventually boarding a real plane. “This gentle approach can be really effective because it increases your exposure to fear until you’re essentially resilient,” Smithson said.

As for those who can stand to get on a plane but really, truly hate its performance? Distraction is key – watch movies, listen to music, get stuck on a puzzle or two. Guided breathing exercises can also help. But if watching Mamma Mia on a BA flight to Athens doesn’t work, it may be time to seek professional help.

learn a new language

There is a certain awkwardness that baffles the British when it comes to speaking a different language. No matter how many vocabulary books have been consulted, or how many times you have muttered ‘est-ce que je peux avoir…’ to the mirror like a strange French spell, there is an undeniable sense of shame when it comes to the critical moment. . This year, eliminate the discomfort by taking classes long before a trip.

Vanessa Villalobos, who runs the Japanese London teacher’s guide, says it can help to think about what a culture you find interesting and use it as an entryway. “For example, in Japanese, etiquette is just as important as the language,” she says. “It might be interesting to learn this through language rather than learning it separately.”

According to Esteban Touma, a teacher at language learning app Babbel, the key to learning a new language is to take some time to practice it seriously. “It can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life,” he says, an experience that can only be achieved in ten minutes a day.

Of course, travel can be a great motivator – ordering a Spanish paella in Spain can save you some extra shellfish. But Touma thinks tools specific to your context are also important, whether through an app like Babbel, a tailored self-study program, or the more traditional tutoring path Villalobos offers.

And perhaps the most helpful advice? Lower your expectations. “You won’t be able to recreate perfect pronunciation or correct grammar right away, but that shouldn’t stop you,” Touma says. “It’s like jumping straight into a cold lake – once you get in there you’ll have fun, but at first it seems like a very scary thing to do.”

There’s also a serious element – ​​even a small amount of learning a new language can improve your memory and the ability to empathize, which are valuable skills.

Both Touma and Villalobos believe that language learning can also be a great excuse for some humble cultures: Watch trashy TV from the country you work in or listen to really simple podcasts. Or better yet – go out for a drink with a fellow student and try to speak only French to each other. If nothing, it will be an excuse to order another bottle.

Travel alone

Abigail Akinyemi runs The Lady Who Travels, a blog for women on solo vacations. She thinks that the fear of traveling alone isn’t really about the destination, but rather is our embarrassment about not being able to perform basic tasks alone. “I always say it’s like shopping at a different grocery store,” she says. “The elements are familiar, but the layout is unusual and that can be confusing.”

It’s worth remembering that any activity you do abroad is probably something you’ve done before: jumping on a bus or ordering at a restaurant may seem daunting, but realistically, you’re probably skilled. But traveling alone forces you to seek out new experiences: you can’t normally trust a group of friends you’re traveling with (and all the stories you tell each other about Marseille ’03 over and over).

Traveling alone for Akinyemi can necessarily increase our self-confidence: you are completely confident in planning, budgeting and executing the trip. “It’s a great way to work your intuition,” he says, without having to focus the journey so much on personal growth.

“I always recommend people start with accommodation and then go on a bigger trip,” she says. Then it might be worth taking a little break from the Cotswolds. Another option is to take a private package tour to take in some of the errands, but when you’re alone you inevitably miss out on some fortuitous experiences.

traveling with baby

Even the most determined parents can be afraid to travel with a baby. If it’s a car ride to see the father-in-law, expect a tantrum on the M6. Traveling by train? It’s a sure thing that there will be delays. Regarding the airplane’s biggest challenge of infant travel, you’ll need a military-grade scheduling program to sync sleep schedules and take off.

However, it is entirely possible. Some airlines allow babies up to seven days old to board and all operators realize that this is a very stressful time for parents. While your sane child may feel like a burden on other passengers, it probably helps to remember that they all thought about caring too much about their own vacation. Even if they do, they’ll forget when they finally lie down on the beach.

The key is preparation, says Carrie Bradley, a former stewardess and blogger at Flying With A Baby. “Do a lot of research to equip you with all the information you’ll ever need,” she says. From baggage allowances to the snack menu, there are many factors to consider. Writing a definitive packing list is undoubtedly the best place to start.

As for putting together a row? Some airlines, such as BA, allow parents to choose seats immediately after boarding at no extra cost, while others do not. “When you factor in all the extra baggage and reserved aisle seats, cheap flights may not be all that affordable,” says Bradley.

There is also the issue of packaging to consider. A spare suit, small bags of Calpol, and extra diapers are always a good idea. Plus a little courage – “whatever your fears, the flight will be over,” says Bradley. Finally, you’ll be sitting in the hotel bar as a distant memory with six hours of wailing.

learn to swim

At the last count, Swim England found that one in three adults in the country cannot swim 25 meters. While it’s ideal to rely on water for a vacation in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, baby classmates wearing armbands may discourage you from taking classes.

However, there are many options. Adult travelers can now combine an excursion with adult swimming lessons, making the learning process much more enjoyable. BodyHoliday, a resort in St Lucia, offers one-week, all-inclusive courses for beginners, taught by Olympic athletes. Or for those looking to transform their form more holistically, Pine Cliffs in the Algarve combines adult swimming lessons with pilates, badminton and yoga.

For many, however, it’s probably more reassuring to start locally. Leisure center operator Everyone Active has produced a number of resources to assist adult swimmers who are eager to allay their fears. It’s understandable to feel frustrated, says Jacqui Tillman, the organization’s Director of Aquatics and Health. “But swimming is a great, low-impact activity with water supporting 90% of one’s body weight,” she says.

Does the possibility still intimidate you? It looks like the pandemic has sparked a new wave of adult students wondering how to learn a new skill, so you won’t be alone. Tillman thinks it can be helpful to build trust by visiting your local pool before taking classes. “Staying on the shallow side of the pool and getting used to the environment without swimming can help,” he says, “or practicing water-breathing techniques.”

Everyone Active also has a policy of allowing swimmers to wear tight-fitting clothing such as leggings, T-shirts and swimsuits, which means you don’t have to wear that old swimsuit from ten years ago. Come summer, pool anxiety may become a thing of the past.

Do you have any travel-related New Year’s resolutions for 2023? Join the conversation in the comments section below

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