2017 will be the first year of my life that I have a full-time job for twelve straight months. Writing that sentence practically caused me physical pain. I am the model of a commitment-phobic millennial, so despite the fact that the last few weeks at my job have actually been pretty good, the thought of the next twelve months (and longer) at this desk is scary.
Also, I realize that I am very lucky to have this great job right out of school, and I shouldn’t be complaining. But I’m going to do so anyway.
My favourite way to make 2017 seem less intimidating is by planning trips and adventures. My day planner is packed with tentative long weekend jaunts and a few longer trips. I wanted to write this post to make sure I actually accomplish some of my travel goals in 2017: otherwise, who knows how quickly the year could slip away!
GO ON A MULTI DAY HIKE
This is the one I’m most excited about! If you read my Best of 2016 post you may remember that I talked about how strange it is to realize I’ve become a hiker. If you haven’t, five of my highlights are hikes and you should go read about them.
Anyway, in 2016 I want to take this to the next level and go on a trek. I will admit it’s very likely that this will happen since I have one planned for February, but it still counts as a goal. The thought of hiking continuously for multiple days makes my entire body feel sore already, but even some of the four-hour hikes I’ve done have felt life-changing: think what a four DAY hike could do!!
More on my plans: I’m off to Colombia for nine days in February and the anchor of my trip is the Ciudad Perdida trek; kind of an off-the-beaten-path Machu Picchu. It’s four days through the jungle and I’m SO excited.
KEEP LEARNING LANGUAGES
Learning languages is my favourite activity, as nerdy as that is. There’s something so magical about teaching your mind some new sounds and then being able to actually talk to people across the world with those sounds. Every time I communicate in a new language it blows my mind – I speak French pretty much fluently, and have picked up enough Italian, German and Spanish that I can get by. However, Spanish is definitely the weakest link out of that list.
Since I’ll be in Colombia to immerse myself, and Spanish is such a widely spoken language anyway, I want 2017 to be the year that I drastically improve my levels of Spanish. It’s also the perfect time to do it because I’m living with two Spanish-speaking guys who I can force to practice with me. I’m already fairly confident in my Spanish reading abilities, so speaking and listening are the goal for 2017.
DON’T FOCUS ON COUNTING COUNTRIES
One of my main sources of anxiety in life is the worry that I might not be able to visit all the places I want to visit. Ah, the luxury of my first world problems. However, this worry often stops me from revisiting places, in favour of whirling through a bunch of new countries. There are a few places I consistently return to (London and New York come to mind) but those really just keep happening because they’re convenient. There are so many places I’m desperate to see again like Italy (all of it), Switzerland (more of it) and Austria.
There’s nothing wrong with going back to somewhere I love deeply, and I need to recognize that! I’ve been to 35 countries, which is not bad for a 21 year old, but it’s not all about the list. Aside from that, I sometimes book a trip to a new country rather than an unexplored region of an old one (like the west coast of the US or anywhere other than Paris in France) just because I want to see new countries. A valid reason, but not a good one.
Again, I’m already on my way to achieving this – next weekend I’m headed to London for the fourth time – but like I said, I always seem to end up in London! I just want to remember that even if I only visit one new country this year, there’s nothing wrong with that.
MAKE THE MOST OF WEEKENDS
It is frightening to me that I’ve been at this job for six months – the days feel like they each last an eternity, but when I think back on the last six months it feels like no time at all. I don’t want to feel like that six months from now, because I need to intentionally fit things in other than work. I’m still not adjusted to the 9-5 model; I tend to get home, crash on the sofa and watch 6 consecutive episodes of Jane the Virgin or whatever show I’m binging at the moment.
I need to figure out how to fill evenings with more happiness, but weekends are an easier battle – I can book trips! I did pretty well in the latter part of 2016 with trips to Stratford, Muskoka, New York and Winnipeg, but I can do better, especially with my long weekends. Tentatively this year, aside from two long trips (Colombia in February and somewhere else in September) I’m hoping to make it to Montreal, Miami, Cuba, the Bruce Peninsula, London (already booked) and Iceland. Ambitious, but doable.
TAKE BETTER PHOTOS
My dad is a great photographer, and I’ve always been very mediocre. I have a few photos I’m really proud of, but the vast majority of my travel shots are just okay. I’ve definitely seen an improvement since the beginning of my travels, particularly in the realm of solo travel self timer pics, but there’s a long way to go. I also used to edit my photos in Lightroom but then got too lazy, and I’d like to get back into this – they look SO much better when I touch them up. Basically, just putting more effort into my photography is all that really needs to happen.
VISIT MY SIXTH CONTINENT
This goal is also cheating, since I’ve already booked my flight to my sixth continent. However, I’m super excited about reaching that milestone so I’m putting it here anyway. I’ve never been to South America, and my trip to Colombia will get me there in just under a month!! After that, all that’s left is Antarctica, and I need either a lot of time to wait for a good deal or a lot of money to just book something, so that’ll have to wait. I’m pretty proud that I’ll have been on six continents (and to more than just one country in every continent!) by age 21.
What are your travel goals for 2017?